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The route from Alford to Aboyne heads mainly south and is 15 miles long. There is climbing of 1,263 feet and has been given a difficulty rating of 5 (it’s a little generous as a 6 the other direction).
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. For a small place, there is a great deal to do here – The Alford Valley Railway; Grampian Transport Museum; and the Alford Heritage Centre.
This route starts on the River Don and finishes on the River Dee, 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 Alford, you head uphill for the first 1.9 miles, before a descent that takes you to the toughest section of the cycle lasting for 4 miles and peaking at the high point of 1,063 feet at mile 7.2. A word to the wise – the first summit isn’t really the summit, and the final half mile is quite steep! You then head largely downhill, with an easy climb at 8.4 miles, and the final stretch is on flat, rolling roads. You enter Aboyne from the north before heading east for a few hundred yards and finishing in the English style village green.
At mile 6 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. At mile 14 you will encounter 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.
Aboyne 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. There are lots of café, restaurant and supermarket options. An ice-cream on the banks of the River Dee is a splendid way to finish your cycle.
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
Onward rides from Aboyne can be found here