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The route from Alford to Insch heads mainly north and is 10.7 miles long. There is climbing of 741 feet and this route has been given a difficulty rating of 5.
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 for some pre-ride sustenance. For a small place, there is a great deal to do here – The Alford Valley Railway; Grampian Transport Museum; and the Alford Heritage Centre. Craigivar Castle is 6 miles south and is well worth a detour, with the pink harled castle allegedly being the inspiration for Walt Disney’s motif.
Heading north out of the village, you will cycle on easy rolling roads for the first 3.5 miles, crossing the River Don at mile 1. The single toughest climb of the day lasts for 3.2 miles on a steady gradient, reaching the high point of 741 feet at mile 6.7. You then descend for a mile to the village of Authleven before rolling roads for the final three miles, entering Insch from the south and finishing in the centre of the town.
There is much to see and do on this route. You pass Haughton Country Park at mile 0.5, with pretty woodland and meadows set in 40 hectares of land. There are the remains of a stone circle at mile 1 (Montgarrie), and you pass Castle Forbes at Keig (mile 4). You are now cycling with Bennachie on your right, which dominates the landscape. Bennachie actually consists of 11 different hills and a forest and offers superb panoramic views across the whole of Aberdeenshire. When you reach Auchleven at mile 8 you will cycle close to Lickleyhead castle, a good example of an l-plan castle dating to around 1600. There are also numerous examples of Neolithic and Pictish remains near Insch, including stone circles, moats and a fort and settlement.
Insch is a village in the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire (pronounced “Geery”). The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic word innis, meaning island, or in this case, “firm ground in a marsh”. Bennachie and the Mither Tap dominate the landscape in this part of the world. Insch is not a big place but has some fine architecture and some beautiful churches. The town also has a railway with good connections south to Aberdeen and northwest to Moray and Inverness and there are a number of café and supermarket options for food and drink.
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 Insch can be found here