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The route from Garmouth to Dufftown heads broadly south and is 20.3 miles in length. With climbing of 1,407 feet this has been given a difficulty rating of 7.
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.
This is a relatively tough stage and you will hope for a favourable wind. You head south out of Garmouth following the Speyside Way. You pass through Mosstodloch at mile 3 and cross the A96 – please take care. The first 8.9 miles are heading very gently uphill, and you then hit the hardest section of the route, a climb from mile 8.9 to mile 14.3 and the high point of 653 feet. The first segment is the steepest, and there is a false flat in the middle. The remainder of the route is rolling but it isn’t easy, and a small climb takes you in to the centre of Dufftown from the north.
This is Moray at its best – hills, farmland, woodland and whisky! You follow the River Spey upstream for the first 9 miles, passing close to Fochabers at mile 3. It is a pretty town with a rich musical and cultural history, as well as being the home to Baxters – their main factory is on the edge of town, and it has an excellent visitors’ centre. There is a lovely section of road from miles 7 to 9, with Tiendland Wood on your right, before you cross the River Spey. You pass Auchriosk distillery at mile 10.3 before heading southwest and through Maggieknockater and the Bridge of Balnellan at mile 15.7. You will be close to both Craigellachie and Charlestown of Aberlour at mile 16 before cycling past Balvenie distillery at mile 18.1.
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. There are a number of food and drink options in the town.
Ride the North 2016
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