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The route from Alford to Westhill is 25.2 miles in length and has climbing of 1,585 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 7 – hope for a westerly wind!
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. Craigivar Castle is quite close – this pink harled building is reputed to be the inspiration for the Walt Disney motif.
You head north out of Alford, crossing the River Don at mile 1. The first 3.4 miles are rolling and you then hit a steep hill that takes you to the high point of 669 feet after 5.4 miles. This is followed by an even steeper descent and you are then on rolling roads for the next 10.1 miles – this section has numerous spikes with little respite so will feel difficult. At mile 15.5 miles you negotiate another climb, which is actually a double summit with a pesky downhill in the middle After a descent of 2.1 miles, the final section from mile 19.3 is on rolling roads. You pass through Kirkton of Skene at mile 23 and enter Westhill from the west, cycling through the town and finishing in the centre.
This route is a favourite of Ride the North, taking in classic Aberdeenshire farm and woodland as well as the hills around Bennachie. From mile 5 to 9 you cycle alongside the River Don through gorgeous wooded section – this is the Lord’s Throat and Bennachie is to the north. You pass through the historic village of Monymusk at mile 11.6 and at mile 14 you will have the magnificent Cluny Castle on your right, which dates back to the 14th century and is now a privately owned venue. At mile 16 you pass Castle Fraser, which has been used as a staging post by Ride the North a number of times. Completed in 1636, it is considered to be the most elaborate Z-plan castle in Scotland. And at mile 18.9 you will be near the village of Dunecht – the stately Dunecht House and gardens are well worth a visit.
Westhill is a fairly new town, having been “founded” in 1963. It has grown considerably since then and has a population of around 13,000. Before Covid, the population would swell considerably during the day due to the number of oil and gas and sub-sea companies that call Westhill home. The town actually falls within the City of Aberdeen, and just east of Westhill is the new Aberdeen Football Club training facilities, and a new stadium for the club is also earmarked for the site. There are plenty of café and supermarket options in town.
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