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The route from Elgin to Garmouth is 9.4 miles long and has 394 feet of climbing. It has been given a difficulty rating of 3.
Elgin is the administrative and commercial centre of Moray and the town was first recorded in charter in 1151. The 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.
Leaving from the centre of Elgin, you follow a circuitous route east out of town, simply to avoid cycling on the A96. Some of this is through a rather unflattering industrial estate, but it is better and safer than the alternative. You reach the edge of Elgin at mile 2.5, now alongside the River Lossie. The landscape is pretty farm and woodland, and the roads rolls for the first 3.9 miles before you hit a section lasting 3.4 miles that is all up and down – there are six spikes but they are all short, and you reach the high point of 141 feet at mile 7.4. You then roll downhill into Garmouth, entering the town from the west. Without wanting to upset the local residents, there is nothing on the route that could be described as a tourist attraction, other than the remains of a stone circle at mile 6.
Garmouth is a small village and is famed as the landing place of King Charles II on his return from exile in 1650. The River Spey is the dominant feature and the estuary is a constantly changing environment, creating a succession of habitats from bare shingle to coastal grasslands, and brackish saltmarsh to wet woodland. If you have time you could cross to the east side of the river via the magnificent Spey Viaduct and visit Spey Bay, which has a museum and offers dolphin watching trips. Food and drink cannot be guaranteed so you should pack 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