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The route from Aboyne to Alford heads due north and is 15 miles long. There is climbing of 1,312 feet and this has been given a difficulty rating of 6.
Aboyne is 26 miles west of Aberdeen and sits in the centre of Royal Deeside, just 4 miles from the Cairngorm National Park. The name was first recorded in 1260 and there is evidence of the Knights Templar in the immediate vicinity, though the town wasn’t formally founded until 1671. Aboyne and its inhabitants played a role in the Jacobite uprising of 1715. Because of its location it is a very popular tourist destination for those looking to explore Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms. It is a centre for outdoor activities including mountain biking, canoeing and gliding, and a full Highland Games is held annually in August.
This route starts on the River Dee and finishes on the River Don, so has a special place in the heart for us at Ride the North. It is classic Aberdeenshire, with numerous ups and downs set in bonnie farm and woodland. Starting in the centre of town, you head first west and then north, reaching the countryside after 1 mile. The first 3.9 miles are largely flat, and then you hit the longest and hardest climb of the day, lasting 3.9 miles and taking you to the high point of 1,063 feet at mile 7.8. There is a wee drop between two summits so don’t go counting your chickens too early! You then enjoy a shallow descent before another spike at mile 9.3, before once again heading downhill. The final challenge of the day begins at mile 12 and lasts for 1.1 miles, before a descent into Alford from the southwest.
At mile 1 you pass Aboyne Castle, first built in 1233 as a motte and bailey before being fortified in 1307. It is owned by the Marquis of Huntly and was derelict for many years, before being restored in 1979. At mile 9 you pass near Craigivar Castle which is definitely worth a visit. Built of pink harled stone, it is an example of Scottish Baronial architecture and was completed in 1626. Now operated by the National Trust for Scotland, the castle is set in 200 acres of woodland and gardens, and is reputed to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle motif.
Alford is a large village 23 miles west of Aberdeen. The name comes from the Scots auld fort, and it is the “home” of the Aberdeen Angus cattle breed, which is celebrated by a life-size model of a bull on the edge of town. There are a number of excellent cafes in Alford where you can enjoy a well-deserved slice of cake. For a small place, there is a great deal to do here – The Alford Valley Railway; Grampian Transport Museum; and the Alford Heritage Centre.
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 email@example.com
Onward rides from Alford can be found here