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The route from Insch to Rhynie heads mainly west and is 10.8 miles long. There is climbing of 827 feet and this has been given a difficulty rating of 5. It will feel a bit tougher if you are battling a headwind as the roads are exposed in places.
Insch is a village in the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire (pronounced “Geery”). The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic word innis, meaning island, or in this case, “firm ground in a marsh”. Bennachie and the Mither Tap dominate the landscape in this part of the world. Insch is not a big place but has some fine architecture and some beautiful churches. There are also numerous examples of Neolithic and Pictish remains near Insch, including stone circles, moats and a fort and settlement . The town has a railway with good connections south to Aberdeen and northwest to Moray and Inverness.
Starting from the centre of Insch, you initially head south out of town, crossing the railway line and then heading southwest. You are immediately in to a hill that lasts 2.1 miles before settling in to a rolling landscape typical of Aberdeenshire. You start gently rising at mile 5.3 before hitting another hill which peaks at 7.8 miles at the high point of 827 feet. The run in to Rhynie is broadly downhill and you enter the town from the east, finishing in the square.
This is not the most touristy of routes, but there are still items of interest, including Dunnideer House just to the west of Insch and the remains of Christ’s Kirk at mile 1.7 (in an area known locally as Sleepytown!) There are a number of stone circles along the route and you pass the restored Drumminor Castle at mile 9.4. Originally built in the 13th century by the Forbes family, the castle has a bloody history, particularly in relation to a long-running feud between the Forbes and the Gordon families.
Rhynie is the spiritual home of Ride the North, having featured in every event since 2011. The village is most widely known for Rhynie Man, one of eight Pictish stones that were discovered in 1978. Rhynie Man is a 6 foot boulder carved with a bearded man carrying an axe, and might be a depiction of the Celtic god Esus. It is now on display at Woodhill House, the HQ of Aberdeenshire Council. A further archaeological dig started in 2011 near the site where Rhynie Man was found, uncovering substantial fortified settlements dating to the early medieval period. It is a small town so you might want to take extra provisions with you.
By clicking on the ‘play’ symbol on the graphic below you can see route map. The elevation profile of the ride can be seen via the Hills tab with files for use with a GPS device also available for download. If you take any photos of the route that you’d like to share, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
Onward rides from Insch can be found here