North Ballater

Park your car in the Pass of Ballater near the foot of the rocks that climbers frequent. From the car park head turn right along the road towards the Craigendarroch Hotel. After a couple of hundred metres just as you come to the end of the trees a gate on the right leads you up hill past some farm buildings. The track is steep in places with open hillside to your left as you climb through the trees. Above the trees heading towards the shoulder at about 530 m you have good views back down the trail towards the Pass of Ballater. A good place to sit and wonder at the view of Lochnagar away in the distance to the west. Following the track through the fence there is a nice downhill section which you use to build up your momentum and continue on up the side of Peter’s Hill. With the gradient flattening out as you top out you will come across a non descript opening by the side of the track which looks like a gravel dump. Stop at this point and search for the trail that goes left and down the side of the hill towards the Lary Burn. At the bottom there is a small stream where you can let rip and shower your mates sitting by the sides as you storm past. Follow the land rover track around until you come across another deeper ford. Pedal to the metal as you blast through joining the small road a short distance after. Turn right and head up valley towards the Morven Lodge. At the Lodge keep right and follow the track up the hillside. Steep and boring and on grass initially. Eventually the track turns rutted and stoney and even steeper – causing even the big man Eric to walk at this point !!!!! Looking across the valley you will see the flanks of Morven, wide open hillsides with just a few trees down in the valley. Cresting the top of the track at about 600m, the trail heads south westerly dipping steeply down along the flanks of Glen More. At the bottom of the track you cross a small stream before continuing along a land rover track towards the ruins at Glenfenzie. The track branches left at this point heading down Glen Fenzie crossing another ford that is best crossed at speed. When Big Eric crossed this it was like he had his own wall of water around him. Great fun in the hot summer months, not so good on a cold winters day. At the next junction keep right climbing slowly the flanks of Tom Liath until you begin a fast descent towards Morven Lodge. End of the far loop section of the ride. At the Lodge turn right and blast down the road until you cross over a stream, immediately after turn off the road onto a rough track and head the flanks of Tom Garachory. At the top of the track as you crest the col just below Tom Garachory take the right hand trail at the junction and keep the legs turning until you arrive at he earlier gravel dump where you join the trail first traversed earlier on. A great bit of downhill has the wheels flying over large rocks, maintaining the wheels in the narrow tracks as descend the flanks of Peter’s Hill before you start feeling the gradient as you arrive back at the trail passing through the fence line ahead is a fast descent back to the Pass of Ballater. This always gets the brake pads smouldering and on one of my first trips I had a front tyre blow out at full speed that led to a few brown stains of my own…. Near the bottom the land rover track can become covered in fresh cow pats which decorate the back of the shorts and shirt as you pilot your way down the hill. Just before arriving at the gate back onto the road you ride through a small stream – always a good point to stop and clean the bike up of the fresh cow pats. A quick photo at the gate and your back at the car in a couple of minutes. A good ride which for its short distance seems to take a lot effort and time to complete.

Total distance : 24.3 km

Height Gain : 978 m

High Point : 597 m

Low Point : 239 m