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The route from Forres to Elgin on the south side of the A96 is 14.3 miles long and has climbing of 886 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
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. Sueno’s Stone is on the north side of the town – it is a 20 foot tall carved Pictish monument which is enclosed in armoured glass to protect it Your start point is beside Nelson Tower, which was built in 1806 to commemorate Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
The stage begins in the centre of Forres and you head southeast before leaving the town behind at mile 1. The first 1.6 miles are flat and you then have to negotiate the only hill of the day. It is quite tough, reaching the high point of 712 feet at mile 3.7. You will enjoy a 2.1 mile descent and the road is then flat all the way to Elgin – you will get some serious pace up if the west wind is blowing! You enter Elgin from the southwest, crossing the River Lossie at mile 13.1 before navigating through the town for 1.2 miles and finishing in the centre.
This stage is mainly through agricultural and woodland. You pass the remains of Blervie Castle at mile 2.6, where there is also a stone circle, and the remains of Asliesk Castle at mile 6.7.
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. There are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from 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