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The route from Turriff to Huntly is 23.5 miles long with climbing of 1,831 feet. This is a difficult track, extremely lumpy with some very steep climbs. It has been given a rating of 7 but will feel harder, especially if the wind is in your face. That said, it is also particularly beautiful, roughly following the path of the Deveron as it meanders upstream, through gorgeous farm and woodland.
Turriff is an ancient place, with links to the Knights Templar. Known locally as Turra, the town hosts a two-day agricultural show each August which is the largest in Scotland and has been running for 156 years. Somewhat strangely, the most famous former-resident is bovine rather than human. In 1913, sheriff officers confiscated a farmer’s cow after he (the farmer, not the cow!) refused to pay the newly introduced National Insurance. However, officers couldn’t sell the cow locally due to sympathy for the farmer, and the subsequent auction was disrupted by protesters and the cow escaped. Now an emblem of the town, a statue of the Turra Coo was erected in the town centre in 2010.
Starting at Turriff Academy, you head south out of town and then west. The first 4.4 miles are all uphill, but that is just a taster as you enter the hardest section of the cycle. After a steep, quick descent you hit a short but brutish climb of 0.7 miles, followed by three more uphill / downhill sections that take you to mile 8.4. The topography is quite severe, and the road surfaces cannot be guaranteed, so please take care. There is then rolling flat to 12.7 miles, before another really tricky section of ups and downs. You hit a steep descent at mile 15.8 and then there is a slow but steady climb to 20.8 miles and the high point of 502 feet. The final section remains lumpy (surprise surprise), and you enter Huntly from the north, finishing in the town centre.
There is much to see and do on this route, but the best bit (in the opinion of Ride the North) is the scenery – some of the views over Aberdeenshire and the River Deveron are simply stunning. After 4.5 miles you pass a stone circle and standing stone at Drach Law. You then cycle through farmland and suddenly find yourself on the edge of a cliff, looking west as the Deveron shimmers below you. At 16.6 miles you reach the pretty town of Milltown of Rothiemay which sits on the border between Aberdeenshire and Moray. You cross the Deveron here, cycle through the Bin Forest at mile 20 and then recross the river as you enter Huntly, passing the castle on your left.
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 sustenance, the shortbread maker Deans has its HQ (and a café) in the town, and there is a decent range of eateries and supermarkets. There is a train station in Huntly with good links south to Aberdeen and north west in 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