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The route from Archiestown to Tomintoul is entirely in Moray. It is 23.8 miles long, has climbing of 1,923 feet and has been given a rating of 8. This is a difficult route, and what makes it particularly hard are the constant lumps and bumps. There is simply no respite and it could have been rated a 9. But we are cruel!
Archiestown is a small village that was named after the eldest son of the Ride the North founder, Neil Innes. Sadly, this isn’t true – it was built in 1760 and named after Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk. It is a planned village with a grid-street system and a village square. Originally intended as a weaving centre, whisky came to dominate the town from the early 19th century when its production was legalised under the Excise Act of 1823.
You start in the centre of Archiestown and head west. The road is rolling to mile 6 with slightly more downhill than uphill. You then get a small descent and from mile 6.8 you are ascending all the way to the finish line. There are some nasty wee spikes, but mainly this is a slog. You have a “proper” climb at mile 18.7, peaking at the high point of 1,158 feet at mile 20.6. The final 3.2 miles are again rolling but with longer peaks and troughs. You enter Tomintoul from the northeast and finish in the centre of the town.
There are so many sights on this route that it is simply not possible to mention them all. You mainly follow the Speyside Way and you are on the Malt Whisky Trail too. You cross the River Spey at mile 6.7 and then the River Avon at mile 9, where you could visit Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens. This is a superb example of the Scottish Baronial style and the home of the Macpherson Grant family. You cross into the Cairngorm National Park at mile 13.4 and pass the ruins of Drumin Castle soon after. But whisky dominates this route. The distilleries in the area produce some of the best whisky in the world (in our opinion) and include Cardhu, Tamdhu and Knockando (all around mile 3); Craggenmore (mile 9); Glenlivet (mile 14); and Tomintoul (mile 18). These are just the distilleries you pass close to – there are many more in the near vicinity.
Tomintoul, meaning Hillock of the Barn, sits at 1,132 feet above sea level. It is in Moray and the Cairngorms National Park, as well as being on the Malt Whisky Trail. It is home to the Whisky Castle, one of the best whisky shops in Scotland. Alongside tourism and whisky, the other major industry is farming. There are some café options in the town, but you might want to pack some extra provisions.
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