Mount Keen

Park the car at the Boat Inn in Aboyne. Head over the bridge towards Glen Tanar. At the Bridge O’ Ess cross the bridge and take the left turn towards the Glen Tanar estate. DSC00327aContinue up the road until you pass the riding stables. Just past the stables there is a sign. Follow the track around the building, passing through the gate and onto a Land Rover track that follows the ‘Water of Tanar’ on the north side. The track climbs slowly passing a bridge across the river which takes you towards the ‘Waters of Allachy’. Eventually you get a point where the track crosses a bridge over the ‘Burn of Glendui’ just before the ‘Half Way Hut’, approximately 12.2 km from the start. The track continues through the trees for a short distance and then breaks out into a wide open valley that heads towards the foot of Mount Keen. The track along this section follows the river crossing another bridge to the east of a building shown as ‘Etnach’ on the OS map and another bridge 2 km further along. From this bridge you have good views of the flanks of Mount Keen and the route up the side. The track bears away to the left and approaches the remains of some old croft. This 17 km from the start. DSC00337aFor many years there was a foot bridge across the river at this point. This was washed away some time in 2004/2005 winter floods. Cross the river following he obvious pass towards Mount Keen. Depending on how wet the winter has been will dictate the state of the track and how far you will be able to ride your bike. When your back wheel eventually spins out just keep following he track up. At about 19 kms from the start the track splits. If you don’t want to go to the top keep right and bypass the steep ascent, otherwise head down and keep climbing. The trail up Mount Ken over the last 10-15 years has shown a significant increase in the amount of erosion due to the popularity of the hills with both walkers and bikers. DSC00338aIf the sun is out the climb seems to go on and on. The top is reached after approximately 20 km. Enjoy the views towards the other hills and time for a quick photo opportunity. Dropping off the back of Mount Keen the trail has been re-built with a lot of steps ‘up’ as you descend affecting the flow of the descent. As you leave this man made section the trail joins the track which deviated around the flank joins at about the 21.8 km mark from Aboyne. The trail then descends straight down until you reach a section where the trail has a couple of switch backs. Enjoy this bit as it runs like a helter skelter to the bottom of the hill next to the ‘Queen’s Well’ after 5 km of descending from the top of Mount Keen. Follow the trail down Glen Mark, keeping to the north side of the ‘Water of Mark’. After 28.5 km the track joins a metalled road. To the right is Loch Lee, and to the left the road leads down to Tarfside (35 km from start). At Tarfside take a track which heads North towards Tampie and the Firmounth Road. The track keeps to the east of the ‘Water of Tarf’ passing a couple of buildings at Shinfur. The trail crosses the Burn of Clearach and then heads NNE up the side of the hill flanked by red Shank to the West and Mudlee Bracks to the East. The trail is rocky in places but is all rideable. DSC00357aAfter approximately 39-40 km the trail has a sharp right switch back with the track becoming steeper for a short while until reaching a fork at 41 km where the Fungle Road continues off to the right. Looking down the trail to the South you suddenly realise what a hard slog this part of the trail is. Head down and follow the rutted track up to the top of Tampie at about 43 km from the start. Follow the obvious track passing to the east of the ‘Hill of St Colm’ where the track starts to rise again. Depending on the time of year the track can be either sodden peat bog or dry as a pancake. Some interesting down hill sections and after 47 km the track heads steeply down off of ‘Craigmahandle’ with rocks flying up at you as you blast down towards the junction with the trail that comes up from the ‘Water of Allachy’. Itself a good ride if you are looking for a shorter ride through Glen Tannar. Time for a quick re-group before the start of the long down hill. Just follow the obvious track down until you see the ‘Water of Tanar’ to your left when the trail flattens out. Stay on the East of the river until you join the road down by the ‘Bridge O’ Ess’. Then its just a quick blast along the tarmac to the pub and a well earned pint. The route has a couple of variations departing the Firmounth and following the Fungle or riding the route in reverse. In the winter the route across the high spots can have a good covering of sow which requires long pushes at times. Make sure you have sufficient clothing as it is a long way from the start once you get past Mount Keen with no bail outs possible other than very long road rides from Tarfside.

More photographs.

Total Distance: 58.6 km

Height gain: 1630 m

High Point: 925 m

Low Point: 124 m

Link to route map. Mount Keen link