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The route from Westhill to Alford is 25.2 miles in length and has climbing of 1,680 feet. It has been given a difficulty rating of 7, but might feel tougher, especially if you have an unfavourable wind.
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.
You start in the centre of Westhill and cycle through the town and Kirkton of Skene before reaching countryside at mile 2. Heading west and north, the first 5.8 miles are on rolling roads, before you tackle the first climb of the day which lasts for 3.1 miles – it is actually a double summit with a descent in the middle. After a short downhill section you are back on rolling roads, but it will test the legs as there are numerous small spikes. You hit a short, sharp hill at mile 16.9 and then have to negotiate the steepest climb of the day, which luckily is only 0.6 miles long – this is the high point of 669 feet at mile 19.9. The remainder of the route is again on rolling roads and you enter Alford from the north, finishing in the centre of town.
This route is a favourite of Ride the North, taking in classic Aberdeenshire farm and woodland as well as the hills around Bennachie. You pass near Dunecht at mile 6.2, and the stately Dunecht House and gardens are well worth a visit. At mile 9.2 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 At mile 11.3 you will have the magnificent Cluny Castle on your left, which dates back to the 14th century and is now a privately owned venue. After going through the pretty village of Monymusk you join the River Don and soon cycle through a gorgeous section of woodland (mile 16 to mile 20) known as the Lord’s Throat, with Bennachie to the north.
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. Craigivar Castle is quite close – this pink harled building is reputed to be the inspiration for the Walt Disney motif.
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