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The route from Rhynie to Dufftown is 18.4 miles in length and has climbing of 1,624 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 7. Welcome to the Cabrach everyone!
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.
You head northwest out of Rhynie on quiet roads. You go uphill for the first 5.8 miles, with two short flat sections in amongst the climbs at 0.4, 2 and 4.9 miles. This latter hill takes you to the high point of 1,391 feet, and you are now in the heart of the Cabrach. You enjoy a long downhill section from mile 6.5 to 11 and then start heading up again with a 2.7 mile ascent, the steepest section being right at the end. You then descend to mile 18 before a small rise coming in to Dufftown, crossing the River Fiddich from the east and finishing in the town centre.
Rhynie to Dufftown via the Cabrach (and its reverse) is an iconic Ride the North route and it’s all about the scenery… and the weather! If the sun is shining and the wind benign then you will enjoy Scotland at its very best – you’re in Aberdeenshire but you feel like you’re in the Cairngorms, long climbs surrounded by higher hills and moorland in a remote setting. But this is an exposed route, and if the wind is in your face then it will feel tough and unforgiving. The views can be spectacular – you should definitely take in the panorama between miles 6 and 7. There is a particularly pretty section around mile 10 when you cycle alongside the Deveron, one of north-east Scotland’s great rivers. The descent towards Dufftown takes you through heather-covered hills and forests, but you should take care as the road surface can be gravely and you might encounter large vehicles which service the windfarms in the area.
Dufftown is part of the ancient parish of Mortlach, and you can visit the historic Mortlach Church on the south side of town. The remains of Balvenie Castle is open to the public – the original building was completed in the 12th century. The Dufftown Clock Tower is lovely and used to be the prison. The town is in Speyside and calls itself the Malt Whisky Capital of the World. The industry is hugely important to the area, from farming and general employment to tourism. There are also some world renowned whiskies made near Dufftown including the Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Mortlach and Dufftown itself. You should try to make a distillery tour (and perhaps a dram!) part of your day. There are a few options for food in the town so you won’t go hungry.
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