The Isla Way
The Isla Way is a family friendly cycle trail and walking path in Moray that uses an interesting mixture of woodland trails, minor roads and field paths. The 13 mile cycle route links the world's malt whisky capital, Dufftown, to the market town of Keith by running for part of its way through the beautiful Isla Valley.
One of the exciting things about this cycle way is that it roughly follows the route of the Keith to Dufftown Railway Line (KDR), meaning you can combine your bike ride with a train ride making for a great family day out. Complete the whole route and return by train, or alternatively use either of the KDR's two stations for a shorter adventure.
Have you ridden on the Isla Way? Do you think we have missed something you would like included? Then let us know. Contact details are on the link at the bottom of the page.
The cycle way follows a mixture of woodland tracks, country paths and minor roads and offers a great variety of scenery along its 13 mile length. Along the way you pass a couple of castles, 11 distilleries, an ancient Kirk, an adventure centre and a water powered mill, not to mention crossing a suspension bridge - not bad!
The Isla Way cycle trail is well signed between Dufftown and Drummuir using the Isla Way logo. However from Drummuir to Keith it mostly follows quiet public roads and the mile long section along the B9014 is unsigned. Thereafter the cycle route is again signed.
The official start/finish points are Reidhaven Square in Keith and the Old Clock Tower in Dufftown, site of the tourist information centre. However, by using the Keith & Dufftown Railway (KDR) you can have a mid entry point at either Drummuir Station or Towiemore Halt allowing you to cycle or walk the trail back to your starting point. Visit the KDR website for train times, costs and booking information.
Keith Start Point
In Keith, cycle out of Reidhaven Square towards the distinctive St Thomas Chapel and continue along Chapel Street, cross Land St, and cycle to the tee junction. Take a left onto Cameron Dr, and then fork right onto Braeside and head for the trees. You are now off road on the Isla Way.
Dufftown Start Point
In Dufftown leave the clock tower behind and head for Mortlach and Rhynie. As you drop down the hill look for the Isla Way logo signs on your left, opposite the entrance to Mortlach Church.
You are now on the Isla Way - easy!
Suggested Day Cycle Rides
The Isla Way is 13 mile long, so that is a 26 mile round trip - perhaps too much for younger members of the family, or the less experienced cyclist. As mentioned earlier, you can use the Keith to Dufftown Railway to shorten your route. If considering the train we recommend you take the train out and cycle back - a much more relaxing option allowing time for stopping on route with out having to continually check your watch and worry about missing the train.
Drummuir is approximately half way along the trail, so makes a great destination for a shorter day out.
Dufftown to Drummuir - 6.5 miles
A 13 mile round trip. As you leave Dufftown, before you get out of the village you'll pass the huge Balvenie Castle. Abandoned in 1720, this 13th century castle is now a ruin though you can gain entry for a small fee. Within quarter of a mile of the castle you'll cycle past the world famous Glenfiddich Distillery and visitor centre - free tours and a decent cafe, worth noting for the return journey. From there its past the KDR station, over the suspension bridge and onto the track that will take you all the way to Drummuir. About a mile short of Drummuir you'll reach Loch Park.
For those feeling fit there is an interesting mile long cycle loop around Lochend Braes that you can add to your adventure.
From Loch Park you continue towards Drummuir Castle (not open to the public) and then to Botriphnie Kirk, where St Fumac set up a mission in 570. From there it is only a few hundred yard on your bike to the KDR station.
Keith to Drummuir - 6 miles
A 12 mile round trip. Although many visitors opt for the "other half" as their cycling day out, the Keith to Drummuir section has a lot to offer. As you leave Keith on the farm track that drops down Brandy Brae the Isla valley opens up in front of you. In the distance Ben Rinnes, Ben Aigen, and Muldearie can be seen.
At the tarmac road follow the signs for Auchindachy, to cross the Lowrie Burn and eventually join the B9014 for a mile. Although a relatively quiet road do exercise care, especially if you have children or inexperienced cyclists with you.
The road passes the 19th century water powered Mill of Towie. Keep going to pass Towiemore and then turn right (take care) to leave the B9014 and get back on to traffic free cycle ways.
Continue past Mains of Towiebeg towards Drummuir Station.
It is worth passing the station and exploring Drummuir and perhaps even Lochpark - see route above for details.
Facilities on the Isla Way
local_parking Lots of parking available in both Dufftown and Keith.
wc Toilets are available at both start points, at Drummuir and Lochpark.
Dufftown and Keith offer wide selection of cafes.
See our page listing Cafes in Dufftown and Keith.
Mobile phone signal relatively good along the route.
build Nearest cycle repair shops are in Forres.
Other Child Friendly Cycle Routes Nearby
The Deeside Way
The Deeside Way is a 41 mile long, disused railway line that runs from Aberdeen to Ballater. With loads of ways to get on to the Deeside Way your cycle can be as long, or as short as you want making it ideal for cycling, and especially family cycling.
Bennachie Forest Trails
A selection of cycle routes suitable for families on the forestry tracks and lower paths around the iconic Bennachie hill, close to Inverurie. These trails are varied and some more suited to older family members than others.
The Tarland Way
The Tarland Way is a family friendly 6 mile route joining the historic village of Tarland with the bustling town of Aboyne. A great combination of purpose built path, and quiet country roads through the Howe of Cromar.
The Formartine & Buchan Way
A long distance cycle route and walking path running from Dyce railway station through rural Aberdeenshire along the route of the former Formartine and Buchan Railway Line, with links to Peterhead and Fraserburgh.
Books from Amazon
The Parent's Guide to Safe Cycling