xcrider2b09

Cairngorms Circuit

Park your car in the estate car park at Keiloch just off the road near the Invercauld Bridge, remember to pay the parking fee. On the bike and follow the track keeping to the left past the estate cottages. Follow track up through the pine trees, keep right at Invercauld House following the track all the way up past the slopes of Meall Gorm. As you exit the trees the track climbs in open countryside before dropping down and then climbing as you cross over the Allt Cul water. Continue climbing up towards Culardoch, the track steepens and it is a good measure of how fit you are if you can keep in the seat and climb all the way. When the track is dry, you tend to suffer more from the back wheel spinning out. Near the top the track bears left and begins a fast descent towards the River Gairn down in the valley crossing several fords which always leave a smile on your face. The track undulates alongside the river on the right hand side before a bridge crosses to the other bank and then joins another track just before Loch Builg and the start of some of the best single track in the area. At the start of the loch the track passes through some deep peat bogs which then give way to the narrow track that heads onwards towards Glen Builg. Some fast track leads through a couple of fords all of which can be ridden if you have the speed until you arrive at the Linn of Avon where the track to the left heads up towards Glen Avon. However we head on down the valley riding a wide track next to the River Avon, where at Inchory it changes to a metalled track all the way down to Tomintoul. This section is about 13.7 kms long on which you can let the legs unwind after the hard climbs over Culardoch. Arriving in Tomintoul stop in the middle of the village for refreshments and food. There are a couple of places to eat and the pub in the middle is a good place to stop when the weather is a bit cooler as you can warm yourself around the fire. Moving on you follow the road out of the village heading down the valley crossing the river after a couple of hundred yards there is a sharp hairpin turn off the road following the track towards the Kylnadrocht Lodge. Keep to the right until the next left turn at Torrans where you follow the track through the trees until a gate at the edge of the trees. Continue on past Stronachavie where you follow signs going through a gate and following the hill around on one of the contour lines until a descent by the edge of the trees into Glen Brown. At this point the track disappears, veer to the right at the bottom and climb over the fence to follow a faint track through Glen Brown on the left hand side of the Burn of Brown. This track follows several different lines, all of which meet at an obvious track which joins on the right heading up a short steep hill towards a ruin where you can have a breather. Following the track past the Letteraitten you come down off the hill heading towards Dorback Lodge where the dogs in the kennels will greet you with a round of baying. As you descend the track look across the valley towards the Braes of Abernethy the obvious cleft in the hills is where you will be heading shortly. Joining the road after Dorback a short tarmac ride as far as Ballintuim eases the legs. Turning left you head across the fields following a faint track until you cross the Dorback Burn and then head up a steep track before riding a single track up to the Braes of Abernethy. A high deer fence guards the access to the cleft, Eag Mhor, passing through an obvious path leads on. This track has changed a lot since doing this route 4-5 years ago. Once in the cleft the track is very rocky with a good selection of fist size rocks trying to throw you off the bike. Once through the cleft the track is easily followed until you come across another stream to cross, after which you follow the track around towards Loch Chnuic. A quick stop to admire the view and then back on the bike passing through more forest until a junction. I made the mistake of following the right hand fork which added quite a few extra kilometers to the ride as it takes you towards Forest Lodge. Keep left and you will arrive at a ford on the River Nethy which depending on how much rain there has been can make the ford a real challenge. If the water level is too high back track and follow the track to Forest Lodge. Follow the track, ignoring the right turn passing through the trees passing a memorial on the right, keep to the left at the next fork until you come out of the trees and you will pass the Ryvoan Bothy. As the valley sides pull together you pass a track heading off to the left and the Fords of Avon via a hilly path. Keep going down the valley and the An Lochan Uaine is soon passed on your left the deep blue colour raises the spirits and announces the closeness of the Glenmore Lodge where you can get refreshments if needed. Passing through the trees I kept bumping into groups of youngsters out for the day from the center and hell bent on not moving out of the way as I made my weary way up yet another small rise. Passing the lodge you breakout onto the Ski road which leads towards the delights of Aviemore. By this time it was late afternoon and I stopped for a short time at the campsite after the lodge on the banks of the Loch Morlich to top up the Camelbak with water intending to keep going up Glen Feshie.

 

From the caravan site the road leads you quickly down past Coylumbridge towards Inverdruie where the route takes you left along the metalled road towards Feshiebridge. If you keep straight on the road takes you quickly into Aviemore where you can get a bite to eat and some refreshments. I stopped at the fish and chip shop for some quality food before heading out towards Glen Feshie. At Inverdruie there is Bothy Bikes where you can get spares. The road from here to Feshiebridge is normally quiet with some beautiful views across the valley towards the A9. At Feshiebridge as you pass over the bridge an immediate sharp left takes you into the lower end of Glen Feshie.  Following the track alongside the river Feshie after 3 km you join a metalled road shortly after Ballintean which continues to follow the river up the valley. Keep riding up the glen keeping the river on your left passing through forested areas and open grasslands. A short distance after passing Stronetoper on the left hand side of the river an obvious valley heads up towards Coire Garbhlach, the Allt Garbhlach joins the River Feshie at this point. This was to be my stopping point for a few hours rest.

 

Getting out the bivi bag and settling down into a hollow just up from the river I had a fantastic view of the setting sun which never quite disappeared it being the day after the longest day. I had thought that I was prepared for a few hours sleep in my bivi bag having brought a thin sleeping bag liner which I crawled into keeping my riding gear on having supplemented it with a body warmer and some thermal leggings. On my head I had a mosquito net which was supposed to stop the mosquitoes from eating me alive. Wrong, the mesh size was too large. Over the next couple of hours I slept reasonably well with a few rain drops falling onto the bivi bag. Awaking at just after 4am the sky was a patch work of storm clouds and streaks of the bleeding sun. Time for the off. Looking at the clouds it was a close call as to whether the ride should finish and I should get the better half to drive to Aviemore and pick me up……did’nt take much thinking about forecast was OK and there was no way that I was abandoning after coming so far. Packing everything away in the ruck sack soon I was turning the peddles over thinking what a brilliant time of day it was with no one else around. Soon the body had warmed up as I approached the Carnachuin passing the kennels with the dogs jumping and getting a glimpse of the early morning traveler. Just past the house the road took a sharp drop down towards the river and a rickety old bridge that spanned the river. On the other side the track continues up the hills passing very close to the north of the Mullach Clach a Bhlair, a munro of some 1019 m height. Earlier plans too follow the track up and view the sunset and sunrise on the longest day seemed just a distant memory. Following the track which branched to the right just after the bridge the track continues to follow the river. Passing some old ruins at Ruigh a teachain I spotted a single bike laid up next to a tent, the single occupant oblivious to my early morning passage. Not long past the tent and the river valley split with the left branch being the one that takes you back to Braemar and the right hand one showing evidence of tracks worth looking at another day. The track followed the side of the river with a few diversions up and away before returning. A couple of false trails lead you towards a wide river crossing which is best avoided as once around the corner the track rejoins the side where you start from. Take the upper trail when approaching a large land slip. The track as you approach the waterfall near Ruighe nan Leum has been improved by the land owners to allow easier passage of Quad bikes carrying hunters and other estate workers. Further on the trails turn into a deep peat bog that fills your boots with dark peaty water. Pushing on through the standing pools trying to avoid sinking into the deep holes the Quad bike tracks disappear. From the ruins that sit by the banks of the river Feshie where the Allt Eindart joins a non descriptive path heads uphill across the hillside towards a scaffolding bridge that crosses a large tributary – the River Eidart. A few years ago when I first did this route one of the guys on the trip decided to cross the river holding his bike above his head as we failed to find the bridge. A short distance downstream of his crossing point was the bridge and a large waterfall. After the bridge the trail is easy to follow across the watershed with plenty of evidence of an artificial path with drainage culverts crossing at various points. Soon the Geldie Lodge is visible on the other side of the river. Descending a rough track you join the trail from the Geldie Lodge taking a left turn and cycling alongside the Geldie Burn for miles. Passing the small woods at Ruigh nan Clach you arrive at the White Bridge where you take a right turn and continue towards the Linn of Dee. The trail from Geldie Lodge all the way into the Linn of Dee is rough Landrover track which jars your teeth as you pass the increasing number of walkers. At the Linn as you join the road next to the bridge keep left and follow the road towards the Linn of Quoich. From there follow the trail to the right passing various cottages with fine views of Braemar across the river. The trail eventually joins the trail that heads up towards Cullardoch at the back of Invercauld House , with a short section on tarmac bringing you back to the car park at Keiloch.

Total distance : 133.5 km

Height Gain : 2,563 m

High Point : 726 m

Low Point : 215 m

Time Taken : 23 hrs