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The route from Rhynie to Huntly heads north via a meandering route and is 13.9 miles long. There is climbing of 764 feet and this has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
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 east out of Rhynie and straight in to the toughest climb of the day that lasts 2.2 miles and takes you to the high point of 827 feet. You pass the restored Drumminor Castle at mile 1.4. 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 Gordon families.
From mile 2.2 the route is mainly downhill for the next 4.4 miles. You head north from mile 3 and arrive in Kennethmont at mile 4.6. The Ardmore Distillery is nearby and well worth a visit – you might even see your way to buying a dram to enjoy at the end of the day. You will be cycling in the area known as Strathbogie from mile 6, roughly following the route of the Rover Bogie. You briefly join the Old Military Road (A97) at mile 7 before coming off at Gartly and hitting two minor hills, before mainly descending from mile 8.7 all the way to Huntly. You will rejoin the A97 at mile 11 – this is a busy and fast road so please take care – before having to cross the A90 via a roundabout at mile 13.3. You are now in Huntly and will head north before finishing in the town centre.
Huntly has had settlements dating back to the Neolithic period. There is an excavated Iron-Age fort on the edge of town, as well as numerous Pictish remains and stones. The town is the historic home of the Gordon Highlanders Regiment, and the ruined castle is worth a visit. If you are looking for some post-cycle sustenance, the shortbread maker Deans has its HQ (and a café) in the town, and there are a number of other eateries and supermarkets available. There is a train station in Huntly with good links south to Aberdeen and northwest to Moray and Inverness.
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 Huntly can be found here