Inverurie & Bennachie Road Cycle Route
This 33 mile circular route takes the cyclist from Inverurie, round the back of Bennachie returning along the banks of the River Don. And you can expect a couple of serious climbs along the way.
Garioch (pronounced Geerie) is one of the 6 administrative areas established by Aberdeenshire Council, with its "capital" being Inverurie. It is ideal cycling country, with its landscape of undulating farmland and interesting scenery. The area is dominated by the 9 distinctive peaks of the Bennachie hill range, the highest of which is Oxen Craig at 528m though the most visited is Mither Tap (518m) which itself is often referred to as Bennachie. This cycle route provides a nice loop around the Bennachie range.
The Garioch Loop Cycle Route Description
The start and finish point is Inverurie's ornate Victorian Train Station. Check out our page on taking your bike on the train if you are considering using the train. The station also has a good sized free car park if you decide to drive.
Leave the station and cycle into the town, turning right at the roundabout heading up the slight incline of West High Street. At the mini roundabout take the 3rd exit sign posted A96. Continue up the hill to the next roundabout where you go straight on past the new housing to leave the town.
Continue till you meet the A96. With care, join the A96 towards Inverness and exit after 100 yards to your left.
Continue, passing the ruined Balquhain Castle (Point of Interest #1 - see below) on your right, to Chapel of Garioch.
Pass straight through Chapel of Garioch, and after about a mile as you start to descend look out for the Maiden Stone (Point of Interest #2 - see below) on your left hand side adjacent to the road.
Across the road from the Maiden Stone, tucked away in the woods and worth finding, is a large statue to Persephone (Point of Interest #3 - see below)
Continue to descend, passing below the railway to reach the A96.
With care, join the A96 towards Inverness and exit after 100 yards to your left onto the B9002 under the railway and past the privately owned Harthill Castle.
Follow the B9002 through Oyne following the railway all the way to Insch.
Pass Insch Rail station, cross the level crossing and take the first left onto the B992, sign posted Auchleven.
Stay on the B992, passing through Auchleven, or as the locals call the village, Premnay. Tighten your toe straps and get ready for the mile long assent of the Brindy (total ascent approx 100m).
Enjoy the long gradual descent, preparing to turn left onto the unclassified road sign posted "Lords Throat" about half a mile after the road flattens out
Climb up this road into the trees, to the top of the Lords Throat and descend to follow the banks of the River Don on your right hand side with views across to the popular mountain biking trails at Pitfichie Forest. This is a good spot to stop for a rest, and there are various picnic spots provided along this stretch in the woods to your right. Continue on this road until you reach a Tee junction.
Take left at the Tee junction, sign posted Blairdaff.
Within a mile you come to the sprawling hamlet of Blairdaff, complete with roofless church. Bear left all the way through Blairdaff, climbing all the time into Bennachie Forest. As you know, what goes up must come down, and so it is with this road. As you exit the forest the road descends past the entrance to the Bennachie Visitor Centre and family MTB trails, then undulates for a mile or so until it reaches a small road to the right signed Inverurie.
Take the road signed Inverurie and enjoy the gentle descent to the Tee junction at the bottom. Take the left at the Tee and continue parallel to the River Don all the way to the mini roundabout at Port Elphinstone. Take first exit on the roundabout and follow the road back to the centre of Inverurie, and the train station.
Points of Interest
#1 - Balquhain Castle
The ruined Balquhain Castle was burned down in a feud with the neighbouring Forbes family in 1526. It was rebuilt and then abandoned in 1710 when the Leslie family moved to Fetternear house. After 1710 it fell into disrepair and was then deliberately destroyed in 1746 - likely as a result of the failed 1745 rebellion. Worth the short detour, even if just to look at the nearby Balquhain stone circle.
#2 - The Maiden Stone
The Maiden Stone is a 3m high slap of pink granite, carved on all four sides with Pictish and Christian symbology. Thought to date from the second half of the 9th century AD. The stone's name derives from the legend of a daughter of a Laird of Balquhain who was turned to stone on her wedding day after losing a bet with the devil.
The Maiden Stone is also known as the Drumdurno Stone after the nearby farm.
#3 - Persephone Statue
The statue of Persephone can be found across the road from the Maiden Stone, tucked away in the woods just inside the entrance to Crowmallie House.
The statue, carved in 1961 by Sandy Smith who lived at Crowmallie House recalls Indian art and carries a mirror, an allusion to a similar mirror on the Maiden Stone across the road.
In Greek mythology, Persephone, also called Kore ("the maiden"), is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She became the queen of the underworld through her abduction by Hades, the god of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation.
Local Interest Book from Amazon
The Garioch Loop Route Map, Profile & GPX
Aerial preview of the Garioch Loop
Facilities in Inverurie
Free parking available.
Public toilets available on Station Rd.
See our page listing Cafes in Inverurie.
Good mobile phone signal throughout.
Cycle repair shop in Inverurie.
Loads of shops, bars & take aways in the town.
Other Road Routes to Try
The Slug Route
Departing the coastal town of Stonehaven this 29 mile circular route travels inland on National Cycle Route no.1 to meet the River Dee before returning via the challenging Slug Road climb.
Insch Leasure Loops
A series of three routes, all less than 10 miles, from Insch that can be tackled individually, or combined to form a more challenging route.
The Hatton Hoop
This relatively demanding 20 mile route starts and finishes at Dyce railway station and passes through the villages of Kinmuck and Hatton of Fintray. There is an option to cut the route short if need be.
Halt for a Malt
A scenic 45 mile cycle route from Huntly to Dufftown, in the heart of Malt Whisky country returning via the charming village of Rhynie.
Create Your Own Route
The above route is the basis of a great 2 or 3 hours cycling, however you can make it even more interesting by adding to it or starting in a different place. The maps and guides below, available from Amazon, will help you create the perfect Garioch Route.