Monday, 10 April 2017

A Weekend Around the Cairngorms

I've been wanting to do a longer trip to tweak kit and try and do a 100 miler in prep for the Highland Trail group start at the end of next month... An invite to see my pals new place on Speyside was the excuse so I blagged Friday and Monday off with a plan to train it to Tyndrum, do the Highland Trail route to Lagan, then keep heading Northwest to Speyside via Aviemore and Tomintoul. A landslip on the line between Glasgow and Crianlarich kyboshed that idea so plan B was to abandon the car at Dunkeld and then head north west to pick up the HT route at Bridge of Balgie bagging a couple of new trails on the way.

First new trail was over Craigvinean woods and Grandtully hill. My camera was playing up so no photos of this bit but all in all a pleasant route via various tracks and numerous wind turbines with a sizeable climb thrown in. After aberfeldy a chunk of road riding up NCN7 took me into Glen Lyon and new trail no 2 which goes up the glen on the other side of the river to the tarmac road. Nowt special just a mix of nice tracks all pretty dry after a week of nice weather ending at the Bridge of Balgie PO and cafe for food. Thereafter it was the usual route over to Loch Rannoch and then up towards Ben Alder. The trails were all pretty dry and even the boggy bit before Ben Alder Cottage wasn't too bad whilst the singletrack over the Bealach dhu was bone dry.

Mandatory Bealach dhu / view to loch Ossian shot. 

I'm down two teeth on the front ring now so even loaded managed to get up most of this, including the last steep bit. The descent was heaven - I'm definitely sold on the Jones now but my technical riding skills have atrophied somewhat over the winter as I made a right pigs ear of the various burn crossings. I'm convinced they are all rideable....

Rolling out along the Pattack I encountered major works for a new hydro scheme. The old track now has a large dam on it and various new tracks have been put in to access the works. No worries getting through it on a signed diversion so should be OK for a bunch of folk to go through come the end of May.

Mile 100 passed just as I reached a particularly fine bothy. It was 8pm by this time so having fulfilled a double goal of going for 12 hours and doing 100miles I went in. I was joined later by a bloke from Newcastle so a pleasant evening was passed taking outdoor kit and drinking (his) whisky!

I'd not bothereed with weather forecasts but having had an almost dry day Friday I assumed it would piss down on Saturday. Imagine my surprise to wake up to sunshine... What followed was bliss - the Cairngorms loop follows a fine route from Tromie to Glenmore. Everything was dry and I had a stiff breeze behind me to boot. The Glenmore cafe was dissapointingly shut for refurbishment (on a sunny easter I ask you!) so I had to make do with the FC cafe that was both poor and expensive. Hey ho. The whole route to Tomintoul was dry and the sun was blazing!

MBA occupying Ryvoan Bothy


Strathnethy and the Cairngorm massif.

Tomintoul to my pals place was all roads as I couldn't be arsed going over the Speyside way link however it was easy pedalling and little traffic. Day 3 required a reversal of this to Tomintoul and then continuing along the CL to Braemar. The forecast was for rain later and it got progressively murkier as I headed south. The forecasted northwesterly wasn't however so I had a hard headwind for most of this.


Looking up Glen gairn with Ben Avon (pronounced Aan) in the background. The glen gairn singletrack is a heavenly nadgefest hower I noted that the shonky footbridge to get to it has now gone....

Leaving Braemar the rain came on at last and looked like it would be in for the evening. I can't complain as I've had a fair few suny rides of late. The brutal headwind did make it a bit of a labour as far as the Geldie but thereafter it seemed to swing round to a tailwind - I think it was finally shifting more north than west and Glen tilt is a famous wind funnel. The Glen Tilt watershed is a nicely techy trail and I was finally getting back into the swing of it. First time I'd used a set of loop bars for this kind of thing and they worked well.


Its raining here honest! I camped here at the end of April 2015 in the snow....

Amazingly the rain eased and stopped in time for the fabulous descent - the sun even came out! I'd thought about stopping the night here but it was only 7 so I cracked on with thoughts of my own bed for the night. Chips in Blair Atholl fueled the final 20 miles back to Dunkeld along bits of old road, the ace riverside path from Killiecrankie to Pitlochry and finally the back road via Logierait, back to the car just before 10.

The route was 250 miles with around 6000m of climbing.