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The route from Dufftown to Elgin is 22.6 miles long and has climbing of 1,119 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 6.
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 town calls itself the Malt Whisky Capital of the World and 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.
This is a beautiful route that starts in the centre of Speyside whisky country. You head out from the centre of Dufftown, crossing the River Fiddich after 1 mile and then heading north, broadly following the Speyside Way with the river on your left. The first 4.5 miles are rolling and lumpy, and you hit a hill at mile 4.5 which peaks at the high point of 653 feet after 6.1 miles. You will then enjoy a long descent to mile 11.4, with a false flat in the middle. The road then gradually rises, with more noticeable climbs at miles 11.7 and 13.8, before heading steadily downhill all the way to Elgin from mile 14.9, inevitably with a few spikes. You enter Elgin from the south and have to navigate through the town for 1.9 miles, finishing at the cathedral.
This is Moray at its best – hills, farmland, woodland and whisky! You pass Balvenie distillery at mile 2 and you are close to both Charlestown of Aberlour and Craigellachie at mile 4, before heading through Maggieknockater and the Bridge of Balnellan at mile 4.7. You head northwest from mile 9, close to Auchriosk distillery, before a highlight of the stage when you cross the River Spey at mile 11.2. With the Spey on your right and Tiendland Wood on your left, this is a lovely section of road.
Elgin is a large town and could easily be a base for a holiday. It is the administrative and commercial centre of Moray and the town was first recorded in charter in 1151. The town’s economy is dependant on tourism and whisky, as well as the RAF and army which have bases in nearby Lossiemouth and Kinloss respectively. The ruins of the medieval cathedral are well worth a visit. Originally built in 1242, it was completely destroyed by fire in 1270, and the remains are those of the restored Cathedral. The wonderful Dr Gray’s hospital was built in 1819 and is a superb example of early 19th century architecture. If you have time you could visit Birnie Kirk (built in 1140) a few miles south of the town, or Pluscarden Abbey to the southwest which was built in 1230. We would recommend a visit to Glen Moray distillery in Elgin, which has long been a friend to Ride the North. There are plenty of options for food and drink in town.
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