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The route from Inverurie to Alford meanders west for 17.8 miles and has 1,335 feet of climbing. The route is very lumpy, and if a west wind is blowing then this cycle will feel harder than its rating of 6.
Inverurie is the largest town in Aberdeenshire with a population of around 14,000, and is known as the Centre of the Garioch (pronounced “Geery”). The town was founded in 1308, though its first mention in royal charters isn’t until 1558. If outdoor history is your thing, then the Easter Aquhorthies stone circle dating back to the 3rd century BC is worth a visit, as is the Pictish stone symbol known as the Brandsbutt Stone. The largest livestock market in Scotland can be found just south of the town at Thainstone, and there is a train station with good links south to Aberdeen and northwest to Moray and Inverness.
This is a very pretty route and takes in some of Ride the North’s favourite places. Starting in the centre of town near the station, you will head south and west out of Inverurie, crossing the main A96 road after 1 mile (please take care). The first 11.6 miles are never flat, though there is nothing to overly worry the cyclist, other than a short spike 9.6 miles. The toughest hill of the day lasts for 0.9 miles and peaks at the high point of 669 feet after 12.5 miles. The remainder of the route is once again rolling, and you enter Alford from the north, finishing in the centre of the village.
This is one of those cycles where you might be content to just look at the scenery, though there are plenty of other sights to see. At mile 5.5 you pass Fetternear Bishops Palace in the parish of the Chapel of Garioch, a ruined archaeological site that was one the medieval residences of the bishops of Aberdeen. You join the River Don at mile 8 and then cycle through Paradise Wood and the Lord’s Throat – this road may be quite gravely but it is stunning, surrounded by hilly woodland and the Don meandering at your side. You pass Castle Forbes at Keig (mile 13.8) as well as a stone circle at Montgarrie (mile 16.6). After crossing the Don you will pass Haughton Country Park (mile 17.3) on your left, with pretty woodland and meadows set in 40 hectares.
Alford is a large village 23 miles west of Aberdeen. The name comes from the Scots auld fort, and it is the “home” of the Aberdeen Angus cattle breed, which is celebrated by a life-size model of a bull on the edge of town. There are a number of excellent cafes in Alford where you can enjoy a well-deserved slice of cake. For a small place, there is a great deal to do here – The Alford Valley Railway; Grampian Transport Museum; and the Alford Heritage Centre. The wonderful Craigivar Castle is 6 miles south, with the pink harled castle allegedly being the inspiration for Walt Disney’s motif.
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 Alford can be found here