Viewing 32 posts - 1 through 32 (of 32 total)
  • Cairngorm Loop
  • johnny63
    Full Member

    Quick question on days / distances if anyone has experience of it.

    Couple of us are hoping to do this middle of May and are split on the time / distance we could / would do per day – appreciate it’s fairly arbitary as to everyone’s ‘reasonably fit’ but for this question let’s say we’re reasoanbly fit 🙂 – and we’ll do it on MTB’s.

    so is 3 days a comfortably do or tough going ? or would we be better off just going for 4 days (may be comfortable or still a tough do ?

    Any feedback appreciated.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    The 300km double loop? This old man did it in a day and a half. The record is about half that.

    johnny63
    Full Member

    I knew you’d come through Scotroutes !!

    Yes double route – so all rideable ? and 60 odd mile a day not too onerous ?

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Mostly rideable. The section from An Lochan Uaine to the top of Glen Derry will have you on your feet as much as your bike but just take it steady and you’re rewarded with a lovely descent to Derry Lodge.

    The Geldie-Feshie watershed section is always soft but, even then, is mostly rideable.

    The problem of cutting it into a few days is really one of accommodation so is dictated by your start/end point. For instance, assuming Blair Atholl, you’ll make it to the Aviemore/Glenmore area easily but then you’re faced with the whole inner loop before you hit accommodation again. What might work is 1/2 day to Aviemore, 1 day for the inner loop, 1 day to Braemar and then 1/2 day to Blair Atholl.

    Of course, if you are bikepacking then ignore all that 😂

    johnny63
    Full Member

    Brilliant – and bikepacking, so we’ll have tents with us too.

    We’ll be coming across on the ferry from Belfast – so plan is to drive to first or best accessible point, and then plan route from there – so, based on that, any suggestions on starting point ?

    intheborders
    Free Member

    Yes double route – so all rideable ? and 60 odd mile a day not too onerous ?

    How much of a rush are you in?

    Including travelling there/back we did the outer over 3 pleasant & easy days on gravel bikes using the YHA in Aviemore and a hotel in Braemar.  Beers, plenty of, were also involved 🙂

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    If you’re driving from the ferry then no reason not to start at Blair Atholl I guess. Easy-ish part day to Glenmore, food at the Pine Marten then a camp before the climb to Bynack Mor. Inner loop and a bit more on day 2, passing Rothiemurchus/Aviemore for food/provisions Day 3 gets you through Tomintoul and to Braemar with a possible stop at the (newly completed) Red House bothy. Day 4 gets you to BA in time to drive back?

    That wouldn’t be rushing anything and has food and shops in the right sort of places to avoid you needing to carry everything.

    For the finish, you’ve a choice of completing the Fealar Lodge section or skipping it and heading straight down Glen Tilt. I always recommend the former.

    johnny63
    Full Member

    You’re a star – thanks !

    Will keep you posted.


    @intheborders
    – that sounds great but I’d be worried that if I suggested that, they might go for it instead – so I’m saying nothing

    johnny63
    Full Member

    Scotroutes – I don’t suppose by any chance you’d have a GPX of the (your) route ?

    Happy to buy you a drink in Aviemore when we’re passing as a thank you for your help 🙂

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    @johnny63 – I followed the original route which you can find at https://www.cairngormsloop.net/cairngormsloop-map

    (You’ll have to scroll down a bit).

    My write-up is here: https://www.blog.scotroutes.com/2019/09/cairngorms-loop-300.html

    Huw Oliver is now doing all the admin for the Cairngorms Loop ITT and has made a few changes. I like that he’s now using the Speyside Way between Feshiebridge and Aviemore instead of  the road schlep past Inshriach, less keen on the new routing after Loch Builg. I know the climb of Culardoch is a bit of a drag but you do get a great view and a long descent.

    Huw has organised anothe Group Finish this year if that floats your boat? Saturday 29th June, finishing around midday at Dalraddy Holiday Park just South of Aviemore. Start when you want and just aim to get there in time to eat, drink and chill.

    When it’s closer to the time of your trip, let me know and I’ll see if I have any up to date trail info for you.

    coconut
    Free Member

    I did it over 3 days, starting in Pitlochry, first night in Aviemore and second night in Braemar. It’s a fairly tough ride with a lot of climbing and descending, but a cracker. Definitely pick a mountain bike, I would hate to do that route on a gravel bike.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    My advice would be to be flexible with your planned date, weather in that part of the world is very changeable. There is also many river crossings that can be dangerous or impossible to cross after rainfall. But if you’re determined to do it on a set date then just check the weather a few days before and plan, dress and pack accordingly.

    I’d also say pick a mtb over a gravel bike.

    Here’s a map with the bothies marked on, which can be used. I’d make note of them, even as an emergency back up.

    The Cairngorms Loop

    Screenshot_20240309-205431

    I’m sure you’ll have a blast.

    gkeeffe
    Full Member

    I did it on a gravel bike!  River crossings can be treacherous so watch the rainfall. I think there are pros and cons re mtb or gravel. The road sections are better on a gravel bike, and the trails are pretty easy and generally ok for a fat tyred gravel bike, but the downhills prob more fun with suspension.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    I did it on a gravel bike!

    How was the bit between Bynack Mor and Glen Derry?

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    How was the bit between Bynack Mor and Glen Derry?

    That’s a walk anyway! 😂

    Or at least from Fords of Avon to top of Glen Derry…

    coconut
    Free Member

    That’s a walk anyway! 😂

    Wasn’t on my mountain bike 🙂

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Fair play! We came up from Faindouran on a bone dry day then turned left to Glen Derry.

    I was actually on a reasonably good day and had enjoyed riding through the rock gardens just past Faindouran but the rocks above Glen Derry still proved too much, seem to recall lots of relatively small round boulders but spaced just awkwardly enough to jam wheels and stall momentum

    gkeeffe
    Full Member

    Type two fun.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Type two fun.

    I ask because there’s definitely a point at which the bike you’re riding is almost irrelevant as you’ll be pushing it regardless. As you’ve pointed out, the gravel bike would definitely work well on most of the rest of the Loops.

    gkeeffe
    Full Member

    @scotroutes

    Totally agree. I suppose the gravel bike is a little lighter so it may help in the up carries.  Downhill with bags there  isn’t a massive amount of flow, but a bit of front suspension can help on the boulder stuff, but a lot of the route is double track landrover and was ok for the gravel bike with 650b 48mm tyres.

    it’s an interesting intersection isn’t it between gravel and downcountry where the pros of one match the pros of the other. And vice versa.  In the end you just try and make the best of your choice.  I’m skinny so travelling as light as poss works for me as I’m not massively strong.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    I’d always pick a mtb (with at least sus forks or ideally full sus) over a gravel bike on big off-road rides like that.

    Mainly for comfort but also to help me by not ‘having an off’ when I’m fatigued and not making the best choices.

    But then I’m talking more about the 40mm tyred, steep head angled, dropbar gravel bikes rather than the bigger tyred, more monster cross type bikes.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    I’d always pick a mtb (with at least sus forks or ideally full sus) over a gravel bike on big off-road rides like that.

    Mainly for comfort but also to help me by not ‘having an off’ when I’m fatigued and not making the best choices.

    That was a factor in me using the Occam when I was doing the Loop “non-stop”. Probably less of an issue on a true multi-day ride of it.

    I was on the group start when Jenny Graham turned up on her gravel bike, but since we all had to bail out at the Gaick, I never got to find out how her time would have compared with her other – MTB – attempts.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    What happened at the Gaick?

    cojacal
    Full Member

    I rode the September group start in 2020, when @Scotroutes was looking after it, and put a write  which up might be helpful here https://challengescotland.wordpress.com with links to my timings etc.

    Great ride. I’ve ridden the whole route a couple of times, and surrounds many times. For me a gravel bike wouldn’t be the most fun out there. But what do you know, I’m a single speed fat biker mostly, which is quite possibly the perfect Caringorms loop bike 😉

    A wee while afterwards rode the outer loop anticlockwise, some pics here https://www.flickr.com/photos/cojacal/albums/72157719429845842/. Crossing the river just east of Sronphadruig Lodge almost put my hand on an adder climbing the bank from the river, and while backing off realised that she was being really aggressive, like having a go at me! Then I realised the heather was full of little velociraptor like baby adders! Amazing!

    After riding down upper glen Gairn a couple of times on the Deeside Trail, and running up it when really wet, I’m not convinced that up it is a better route than over Culardoch! Wouldn’t be ridable up for me at all. Slugain down is very nice though.

    It was nice to bump into @Scotroutes on a fixing the Eidart Bridge deck recce on the route in 2021 https://www.flickr.com/photos/cojacal/albums/72157719559808676/

    johnny63
    Full Member

    Thanks for all the info – definitely on MTB .

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    @cojacal

    I was at the group start in 2020 too, I’m in the distance in your start photo (in blue gore jacket on a black Cannondale Scalpel).  I finished about 2 1/2 hours ahead of you but struggled walking for the next few days, so I’m really impressed in you riding singlespeed.

    Nice blog 👍

    chickenman
    Full Member

    Up Glen Gairn rather than Cullardoch is bonkers, it’s much further, mainly unridable uphill when you’re tired and tops out at 660m so not a game changer compared to the origional route.

    johnny63
    Full Member

    Resurrecting this thread as we’re doing it Thursday to Sunday this week – we’ll be mostly following your route, Scotroutes and forecast looking okay at the minute, but anything / place we need to look out for / avoid ?

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    I’ve not heard of anything significant. The head of Glen Feshie still needs a bit of care (especially if coming through in the dark), though the local trail group did do some repairs.

    It’s been dry and sunny these past few days so river levels shouldn’t be a problem and the Geldie-Feshie watershed should be mostly rideable too.

    I had my first midge – and tick – encounter of the year last week so Smidge on the legs should be at the top of your to-do list.

    Remember to take lots of photos so we can all get a bit jealous.

    johnny63
    Full Member

    That’s great – thanks for all your help.

    And yes, Smidge in the bag 🙂

    chrishc777
    Free Member

    Another slight resurrection

    Have been planning to do this later this summer but due to some family stuff I now basically either do it next weekend or wait until next year so I’m heading up Tuesday

    Weather doesn’t look great but not terrible either, and my fitness is not optimum but good enough to get round but more importantly I’ve tested all the kit out so ready to go for it

    Any news on the route? @johnny63 how was your ride?

    johnny63
    Full Member

    brilliant but I think we were really lucky with the weather – conditions were pretty good and rivers all crossable.

    we followed Scotroutes advice and went Blair atholl to Kingcairn, Inner loop, then Kingcairn to Braemar & Braemar to Blair atholl.

    beautiful route in those conditions – we all took MTBs and glad we did – as mentioned above, outer loop is okay on the gravel bike but the MTBs made everything a bit more enjoyable, especially the gravel road descents 🙂

    if you’re in Aviemore for breakfast, couldn’t recommend the Coffee Pot highly enough – lovely way to start your day.

    if I can work out how to post photos, I’ll get some up later

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