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The route from Elgin to Forres on the north side of the A96 is 15.6 miles in length and has climbing of 689 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
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. 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.
You start in the centre of Elgin, passing the cathedral and crossing the River Lossie before hitting countryside at mile 1.3. It is an easy route, but it’s got a difficult start with a short, steep double hill from mile 1 to mile 2 – the high point of 243 feet is reached at mile 1.5. This is followed by an equally sharp descent that takes you on to rolling roads from mile 3.4 to 14. There’s a wee rise at 14.4 miles and you enter Forres from the north, crossing a bridge over the A96 and finishing in the town centre.
This is a pretty route through a mainly agricultural landscape. You follow route 1 of the National Cycle Network, and go through Kinloss after 12 miles which is home to thousands of military personnel. Kinloss sits on Findhorn Bay and you can see the ruins of a Cisterian Abbey that was built in 1150 by King David. At mile 14.8 you pass Sueno’s Stone, a 20 foot tall carved Pictish monument which is enclosed in armoured glass to protect it.
Forres is a good sized town situated on the floodplain of the River Findhorn. It was first mentioned in Roman documents from the 2nd century, and received royal burgh status in 1140. It has won Scotland in Bloom on several occasions and the town features in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Brodie Castle and gardens lie a few miles to the west – the original building (other than one tower) was destroyed by fire in 1645 and is an example of a Z-plan castle. It was home to the Clan Brodie before being taken over by the National Trust for Scotland. Your finishing point is beside Nelson Tower, which was built in 1806 to commemorate Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. There are lots of options for food so you won’t go hungry.
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