If you ever happen to be around Cairngorms with your mountain bike this route is a great option! It’s easy(ish) and it shouldn’t get too muddy even after a few rainy days (unlike some other rides I’ve done in the Highlands). But above all, since you’ll be riding in the heart of Cairngorms the scenery is truly stunning and for most of the time you’ll have a great feeling of remoteness! If you don’t have your own mountain bike with you you can rent one in Ballater, which is just a few km away.
This mtb route is slightly over 40km long and can be easily completed within 4 hours. It’s starts in a free carpark near Braemar. The first 8km is a nice warm up as you’ll only be going up. But the good news is that once you reach the top, which is just below a peak called Culardoch (900m), you’ll be descending for the next 20km! Btw. there’s gonna be some river crossings too!
Once you reach the A93 and cross River Dee and you’ll find yourself by Balmoral Castle. If you feel like a little break you can visit Royal Lochnagar Distillery for a quick whiskey tasting session, which is just a 5 minute detour uphill just before you’d turn right towards the castle. Drinking whiskey is not something we usually do when on a ride but we couldn’t resist.. Don’t judge us!
Once you’re back on the track just follow a nice forest path along the river back towards the starting point. Note, I’ve done this route twice and the second time (early September 2018) the last bit which starts by Balmoral Castle was closed due to Queen’s visit. So we had to take the road to get back to the carpark.
MTB in Cairngorms is really fun and you shouldn’t miss out this route! You can download the ride in the GPX format for your GPS device by clicking on “Download” below the map. Have a great ride!