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The route from Rhynie to Insch heads mainly east and is 10.8 miles long. There is climbing of 640 feet and this has been given a difficulty rating of 4.
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 the high point you slowly trundle downhill for the next 5.2 miles, before heading into a fairly gentle uphill section which peaks at mile 8.7. The remainder of the route heads downhill and you enter Insch from the south before the final half mile to the finishing point in the centre of the town.
There are a number of Neolithic and Pictish sites on route, with the best examples being in and around Insch, with stone circles, forts and settlements in abundance. You also pass the remains of Christ’s Kirk at mile 9, and Dunnideer House is just west of the town.
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. The town also has a railway with good connections south to Aberdeen and northwest to Moray and Inverness, and there are a number of cafes and supermarkets which will allow you to refuel.
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