Cairngorms Loop - Bikepacking Route

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  • Has anyone ridden this? Going for 2 days of riding in a couple of weeks and thinking of doing a section.

    Edit - I did a version that was really nice - see below for my route and pix

    Also taking some inspiration from this -­67/

  • I've done quite a lot of MTBing and walking around there. Any particular questions? Looking at the route, I'd expect to spend some time on foot - it can be pretty hard going on a bike once you get away from the main tracks. On the other hand the biggest climb just past Loch Morlich is pretty easy - so the rest can't be too terrible.

    Be cautious of the weather. It can get pick up quicky.

  • thanks. If you had to do half of that route, ie one loop rather than two, in two days full MTBing, where would you choose?

  • I would suggest doing the first part of the loop , Blair atholl to Aviemore , over the the larig an Laoighe , and camp at the linn of dee , then back via Glen Freshie . apologies if my memory fails me and ive got the names wrong.

  • thank you! very helpful!

  • Did the western-most part of this in the summer with a friend as part of a Scotland bike tour. Started out in Pitlochry, camped close to the Gaick lodge, and then rode on to Aviemore and Inverness the next day. We had adventure type bikes setup for mixed road/gravel, and the stretch through the Cairngorms involved quite a bit of hike-a-bike and some sections were quite muddy. Loads of fun though! There is also a brilliant place to get cake once you get through on the northern side.

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  • thanks all! making it hard to pick just one bit for my 2day stint...

  • Of those, I'd do the top loop, but extend it to take in Nethy Bridge and Loch Garten - the woodland around there is beautiful, and you can easily navigate back onto the track shown. Just leave plenty of time to ride the valleys through the Cairngorms proper. I haven't ridden the two shown, but find in general you end up with a mix of boggy and and rocks/boulders. Find for walking - not easy to ride.

    If you have a spare half day, there's also a track from just south of Aviemore (Burma Road?) that takes you over one of the hills and down to Carrbridge which is worth doing. The climbs a pig, but the route down to the other side and back to Aviemore (you can do some of it off-road) is wonderful. Not 'epic' but very picturesque.

  • brilliant, thanks!

  • So myself and chums are planning to tackle this in August.

    We've given ourselves a 4-day weekend to do the loop but also very keen to session some of the gnarlier trails such as Ben Macdui (all other recommendations for lairiness welcome.)

    Would anyone be able to help with route recommendations? This will be more of a #enduropacking trip than proper bikepacking, I'm going to be heavily overbiked on a 180mm enduro machine so allow that to set the tone...

    Plan is to stay in bothies and try and do good mileage but also to follow the more "proper mtb" sections rather than grinding gravel roads all around?

    Any suggestions/ recommendations?

  • i've got a lot to say and lots of photo/video from my trip but I don't have time to write it all out yet...give me a few weeks and remind me and I'll send you some good nuggets

  • I will indeed! Any and all recommendations will be great!

    Currently looking at this as a potential route...

  • Just done this the past weekend:

    Have also done the 'outer loop' in the past too. Both times I've been very lucky with the weather with drought conditions and no wind. The outer loop is easier with little hike a bike. The inner loop has really tough bits - the long push up to Bynack Mor plus the majority of bits onwards from there to the Hutchinson bothy (really good place to stay in an amazing location) plus the Geldie/Feshie crossing could be a nightmare after wet weather. I think a descent north off Bynack Mor would be great rather than a push up. The best single track bits were going south into Glen Derry, south down upper Glen Tilt, through Loch an Duin, Inshriach, Geldie/Feshie crossing (in the dry). What ever route you take there'll be lots of fire/landrover tracks but the scenery is so stunning I've never cared but then I'm not a great lover of gnar!

  • Thanks for the reminder!

    Here is the route I did and some pictures!

    Blue Lochan

    Pushing the extremely steep bit

    View from Ryvoan bothy

    Ryvoan bothy, stove and sleeping platform

    Remote river crossing on day 2

    Adder checking me out

  • Doing the loop means not that much laryness, particularly for a 180mm bike.

    I'd maybe do more of an out and back given the time you have, focusing on one lairy bit each day, and a bit more riding to fill the time. Start and Finish in Blair Athol perhaps.

    There is supposed to be a good descent off the top of Carn a Chlamain. Think you climb up the double track to the south and come down the single track to the north of Forest Lodge. This could be your excitement for day one, then press on up Glen Tilt aiming for the Bob Scott Bothy, though it could be busy in August.­nbo

    From Bob Scott's you've got options. There is a route down Beinn a Bhuird into Glen Quioche that's supposed to be great.­7oc

    Plus you have the option of getting to the top of Ben Macdui via the Hutchinson Hut. For all of these, it would be nice to leave your kit at the bottom and hike/ride on a bare bike. You'll need decent weather though. All these summits will be pretty hostile in wind and rain.

    From up in that area, the easiest way out is back down Glen Tilt. There is supposed to be some good single track down from Fealar Lodge back into the Glen by the Falls of Tarf too. Another chance to leave your kit at the bottom, hike up and then bomb back down.

    So that's what I'd do. Head up Glen Tilt into the Glen Derry area and do as much rad stuff as possible in that area. Then head back down Glen Tilt to get out. You can always pedal into Braemar to resupply / go to the pub too.

    I really want to go back and do some of this. The pal I was with last time is not as into the descents, but my brother is just getting the kit together for a bit of bikepacking so maybe I'll find some time to get up there with him. Certainly not doing it on my own!

  • This is some great advice folks, thanks so much!
    @Scrabble the general idea is to use the loop as a means to tackle some fun stuff so any recommendations for lairy stuff is fantastic! Nice to have a few nearby pub options too in case we get desperate ;)

    @platypus I absolutely dread snakes :(

    Really looking forward to this trip now though. Bought all of the midgie combating paraphernalia already!

  • ah sorry about the snake pic! It's the first one I've seen in 10 years, I think.
    try my loop then, and you can add on some rough riding where you like

  • If anyone is doing the posted route (red track) and considering an alternative taking the track to the north of the Cairngorm Gliding Club airfield. Don't.

    The area around the blue Square has been densely planted with trees and was impassable beyond the stream. Further up stream, the path has returned back to nature, so I assume its impassable from the square.

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Cairngorms Loop - Bikepacking Route

Posted by Avatar for platypus @platypus