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  • Laggan & Braemar [Family] Route Advice
  • Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Off to Laggan at the weekend for 7 days wit’ family, then Braemar for a week. Trying to get some prior info on good rides to do as I don’t want to piss the kids off.

    General plan, if we’re very lucky is

    * Wolftrax and a bit of Laggan Brown.
    Who doesn’t love a bit of Wolftrax?

    * Looking increasingly unlikely 🙁 but if it does open in time then Blue Steel
    * Might cycle up behind Nevis Range woods and do Giant’s Staircase scramble on Stob Ban if the kids are feeling energetic. The rock looks impeccable.

    * Quite fancy doing this route to the west of Glen Feshie if we can. Alex P said it had some really good sections on it and appears to have only 600m ascent, which the kids will appreciate

    * Or possibly a bit of Burnside, or Badaguish trails
    * The missus will be on for a bit of XC, and I might drag the kids along IF I can get some good recommendations, so am trying to scope out the Ardverikie & Ben Alder loops that are described in VB.

    * Lochnagar possibly
    * Or Mount Keen
    * Or I do fancy Ben Macdui from the south, to see if the Coire Etchachan descent is as good as the Coire Lochan one (Na Lochan?, always get my Coe & Gorms puddle filled corries mixed up)
    * Trip to Ballater is defo on the cards

    I’ve found a few snippets of info on the Laggan Brown, but if anyone has any particular recommendations of flowy or jumpy (or just plan good) trails then I’m eager to hear. Kids happy on the reds at the TC, but not tried the black, though I may take the wean down it this time perhaps.

    Assuming Blue Steel doesn’t open on time, I’m guessing it’s not worth the gondola ticket for the family for just the Top Chief? I get the impression it’s quite full on…

    Any recommendations for ‘nice’ trails at Badaguish or Burnside? The only one whose name I can recall from the weekend is Nazi Gold and I know they wouldn’t like most of that. Need something more mellow, and perhaps jumpy 🙂

    Ardverikie Loop… Looks like a fairly gradual climb up to Loch Pattack and then perhaps 350m more to the top of Bhealaich Leamhain, which should be ok * as long as the descent is worth it* Is it?

    Also, just north of Bhealaich Leamhain is a track shown over Meall Buidhe, izzat any good, if so which direction?

    Found some info on the Ben Alder Route https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/bealcah-bawbag-ben-alder-rote/#post-11972838 Not getting the impression that’s one for the family! Or even on my own. Bawbag gets a bit of a pasting on that thread, so I reckon I might follow Bedmaker’s advice and

    I’d most likely do it as an out and back next time via Bealach Dubh / Cumhann.

    Any other suggestions for good routes from Laggan most welcome

    Looks like some good info on this thread on the big days out from Braemar. https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/bigish-days-riding-from-braemar/#post-11959055
    I’ll have another read of that.

    And this one https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/glenmore-forest-near-aviemore-route-recommendations/#post-11961173

    Amy recommendations for specific trails at Ballater? Heartbreak Ridge gets good press, and looks like around 15km as a loop, so I guess I could sell it to the missus as an XC ride 🙂
    What else is good there?

    Any recommendations for good shorter rides near Braemar? Saw someone pasting the Linn of Dee route… is it a bit rubbish? (from a jumpy kids’ perspective)

    What else have I missed?

    And as ever, if anyone is thtoopid enough to fancy joining me for one of the longer rides, then shout 🙂

    Premier Icon nstpaul
    Full Member

    Laggan Brown, if you want mellow and jumpy for the kids then no.

    Take Bedmakers advice and if you feel like it after that you can do a wee push up Bealach Beithe to the Loch to enjoy the descent back down without the misery of bawbag/ loch side.

    On Glen Feshie assuming your going up the east and back down the west then just use the (very quiet) road straight on from Tolvah to Stronetoper, the bit of loop shown on your map is just through plantation forest and nothing to be seen.

    Can’t see how far up the Feshie you intend to go but no bridges past where you initially cross.

    On the return loop a large bit of the upper single track section from Coire Chroin-alltain joining the track to Baileguish may not exist on the ground, it certainly was trashed by forestry operations recently but may have been reinstated by trail fairies. There is however forestry access road that can be seen on bing aerial view.

    That’s quite a big loop and being local I think it’s maybe more physically demanding than it would appear on a map dependant on kids stamina.

    If you get a good day and fancy getting the kids out and up high then a simple route to get up to 3 Munros is Geal Charn, Beinn Uldamain and A’Mharconaich from Balsporran Cottages south of Dalwhinnie on A9.

    100% ridable surface LR track to bealloch at Choire Fhar (dependant on fitness) then easy push/ ride up Geal Charn, return same way then a 200m or so easy push up path onto ridge between Beinn Uldamain and A’Mharconaich, once up looks more intimidating/ vertical than actually is to Beinn Uldamain, ride back down then up A’Mharconaich, then return back down the way you came. No technical riding involved unless you ride of the north end of A’Mharconaich down the unmarked walkers path, which I wouldn’t bother with again due to peat hags and bogs after half way down. Obviously don’t have to do all 3 😉

    Sure others will be along to advise elsewhere at some point.

    Enjoy

    Premier Icon pothead
    Free Member

    Assuming Blue Steel doesn’t open on time, I’m guessing it’s not worth the gondola ticket for the family for just the Top Chief? I get the impression it’s quite full on…

    I was at Nevis Range yesterday and the ticket office said the blue still needs a fair bit of work but a bridge was recently finished so they still plan to get it open this year (I’d have to say it definitely won’t be open nxt weekend). The Top Cheif and World Cup track were both absolutely bone dry, and if I’m honest I found the World Cup track the less tiring of the 2 (on a 150mm 29er) in those conditions (I’d only ever ridden them very wet before yesterday) but the forecast was for heavy rain in the next couple of days

    Premier Icon pothead
    Free Member

    Assuming Blue Steel doesn’t open on time, I’m guessing it’s not worth the gondola ticket for the family for just the Top Chief? I get the impression it’s quite full on…

    I was at Nevis Range yesterday and the ticket office said the blue still needs a fair bit of work but a bridge was recently finished so they still plan to get it open this year (I’d have to say it definitely won’t be open nxt weekend). The Top Cheif and World Cup track were both absolutely bone dry, and if I’m honest I found the World Cup track the less tiring of the 2 (on a 150mm 29er) in those conditions (I’d only ever ridden them very wet before yesterday) but the forecast was for heavy rain in the next couple of days

    Premier Icon gordonwatt
    Full Member

    Another ride to consider is Carn an t-Saigart Mor and Loch Callater via Ballochbuie. Head SE from Invercauld Bridge, then follow the main track up Feindallacher Burn to the pony hut. Follow the singletrack up the burn, cross and carry on – mostly rideable to around 750m and then an easy push to the col, where you have the choice of several routes:

    1. SW to pickup the track round to Cairn Bannoch, Broad Cairn and the superb Corrie Chash dsctn to Loch Muick (then gravel back to Invercauld via Balmoral).

    2. E to Lochnagar, down the techy Glas-allt-shiel track and back via Balmoral and Ballochbuie as above.

    3. E to Lochnagar, but cut back NE above the waterfall section of the Glas-allt-shiel descent and head north to Balmoral or Ballochbuie from col between Meikle Pap and Conachcraig.

    4. Head S, and pick up the singletrack heading W down to Loch Callater. Some fantastic riding on big slabs and an easy descent back to Braemar.

    Premier Icon bri-72
    Full Member

    Burnside – Nazi gold is at the hard/black end of things there tho most are fairly demanding so not sure if suitable for kids. If it’s wet become that bit harder too.
    Richards down is prob the one I’d say is easiest and more flowy. But that’s about it.

    Badaguish pretty short and while nice really needs added onto something else to justify. Bigger Xc loop with that in the middle?

    Ballater. HR is probably a red and only a couple of features that are trickier. Whether the Mrs would call it XC ? 2 hours tops to do it.
    Mastermind is a nice enduro natural trail near town and can do a climb and descent in about 45mins -1 hr. some quite tech bits but nothing too hard. It’s more a lot of steep tight and rocky bits than one single hard feature.
    I quite like green mile. Not long but flowyish If don’t mind some pedally bits. Easier than HR or MM. Best done in the dry even last week the peaty bits wet. Have done this plus HR as oner and 3.5 hrs all in.
    Cambus of May trails worth a look and a walk to burn o vat added in for family interest.

    Trailforks is your friend in all the above.

    Premier Icon bri-72
    Full Member

    All of the above id say If usual trail centre reds are ok for kids then they’d be fine or fine maybe just odd bit to be canny on.

    Premier Icon NZCol
    Free Member

    Been in Braemar the last few weeks on and off. The small loop around Morrone is quite fun – my 8 year old enjoyed it, walked a few bits. JUst head up past duck pond, follow the 4wd up and bear right on the walking track, then R a the major fence to loop back round.
    I did a MTB loop up via LoD, Derry Lodge then over the shoulder of Carn an’Ic Duibhe across to Corrour Bothy then back out – cross the the other bank when you can see the path as its more rideable.
    Also did a loop from Derry N which I have the GPX for, bit of pushing on that one though.

    Premier Icon tomcrow99
    Full Member

    Glen Feshie stuff is ace, my kids loved it. Good swim spot at Feshie Bridge also. We were in Braemar last week and it was roasting. HB ridge fine for family ride, long climb (was fairly brutal in 30°) but descent worth it and only one section harder than red. Have done the ride NZCol outlines above and was a long day out with the kids. We didn’t cross the Dee and the track back to White Bridge was about 60% bog so good to hear the track on the far side is better. You are also only an hour from GlenLivet which is great for the family. Cambus o may trails great. Also nice rides up Glen Tanar or round Loch Muick.
    Enjoy

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Lovely first day today, though we may have overdone it a tad. Did Laggan Lower Red, Black, Orange, Lower Red and Orange I think.
    First time of the Black for the kids and they did really well. Loads of dabs and a couple of portages between them but they managed most of it…


    The second run down the Red was sooooo good. Adrenalintastic feedback loops all the way down…

    Then a spot of lunch and then over to the Brown. My leading skills were completely non existent. For some reason I went with the missus down to the right whilst the kids went roughly straight down.

    The below is totally true…

    Laggan Brown, if you want mellow and jumpy for the kids then no

    I didn’t get much out of that run, but the younger son was absolutely buzzing.
    “It was so steep, and then there were slabs, and so steep roots and slabs and it was amazing”

    Alas his battery* was fully empty after about 30km and just over a thousand metres of descent, so they headed back to the van whilst I nipped back up for a last run. Came across one sign saying Brown-e or something then an A and a B. Not having a clue what they meant, I followed the A…

    For about 10 metres before it got stupid….

    Back up and did the B instead, which was steep enough.

    Brilliant day. Love Laggan so much.

    * Metaphorical, natch.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Indeed, Laggan is ace. It’s a standard OAB_household trip in early autumn for best atmosphere.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Quick update, and final call for anything awesome around Aviemore area…

    Did the Feshie route. The missus loved it,
    the wean hated it.

    Endless foreroad and then by the time the first decent bit of singletrack arrived we had already done 20km and he had completely lost his mojo. 35km of effort for little return in his view.

    So the next day we went for something very short and very steep…
    Cairngorm and Coire an Lochan. Would have been epic except for the punctures on the main descent. Kids loved it, right up until the point they got eaten alive.

    Rest day today and thinking of sneaky van uplift up the ski road tomorrow, down Allt Mor, left into the forest by the snow gates. Find the bitta singletrack in there. Up to Rothiemurcus Lodge, across to the nice bit of Lairig Ghru down that, Across to Badaguish and do a couple of trails there.

    The trail directly below the Cas carpark, along the Allt a Choire Chais…. is marked as semi closed … anyone know if it is worth doing anyway, or is it complete no go?

    Also, the ‘traverse’ from Rothiemurcus Lodge….. I get the impression it’s quite lumpy and tricky… it’ll be dry though. Is it a nightmare, or quite reasonable? I know the up and down the Ghru is a better route, but would prefer something more circular.

    Cheers

    That’s quite a big loop and being local I think it’s maybe more physically demanding than it would appear on a map

    Spot on Paul.

    Although the problem isn’t so much physically demanding days as physically demanding days with little buzz. I think part of the problem was doing it the day after a 1km day at Laggan.

    Premier Icon shortbread_fanylion
    Full Member

    Traverse from Rothiemurchus Lodge is fine. Rideable when dry. Can’t help you with the rest but fair play to your kids for giving stuff a go!

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Traverse from Rothiemurchus Lodge is fine. Rideable when dry.

    Splendid. Thanks

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Just adding some info in case it comes up in a future search… the track directly from the Cas ski car park down the Allt Chais towards Glenmore… it’s very rutted and washed out much of the way. Quite overgrown in places too. There is also a minor landslide

    Even with the ‘free’ height gain for the kids I don’t think it’s worth it. Much better to start from the lay-by just after the start of the one way system on the ski road descent.

    The bit after the Bridge under Sugarbowl Carpark is much better, although also washed out in a couple of places. Nice bit of northshore with a moderately tricky corner….

    Traverse from Rothiemurchus Lodge is fine. Rideable when dry.

    Hmm not quite sure. Seemed very very stop start to me, but then the family aren’t much into horizontal tech. Seemed to take forever.

    Some bits and good though…

    It must be hell on earth when it’s wet though.

    Still not decided…. I think I’d do it again with peers but not with the family. Which is a shame really as the descent of the northern part of the Ghru is still absolutely amazing. And, as is so ofter the case with good bits, I got zero decent photos.


    Ho hum. Never mind, cracking ride though. Didn’t get up to Badaguish as we spent too long picking blueberries and mushrooms!

    Premier Icon shortbread_fanylion
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    Sorry pal – I like it, nice horizontal challenge to clean as you say! Yeah, best avoided when damp but as it’s flat I thought it would be an easy enough walk.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Sorry pal – I like it, nice horizontal challenge to clean as you say! Yeah, best avoided when damp but as it’s flat I thought it would be an easy enough walk

    Hey, I think you’re right really. It is a good tech challenge if you’re up for it. Would do it again if I was on my own or with other adults. Just that the family didn’t really get in the zone for it.

    And as you say it doesn’t gain much altitude, so easy enough to push bits.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Rest day on the Canyon North of Loch Laggan. Not our vid, but gives the idea.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Right, since there’s been a few threads about CG family riding, I thought I should get my shit together and post some photos, info, opinions…

    <must remember not to put too many links in though!>

    Following a ‘rest day’ exploring some random canyon near Loch Laggan the weather continue to do its shit during the day and nice[ish] at night thing. So I did an evening solo ride up Beinn a Bhuird. Went up via Quioch and down to th Sneck after. TBH I’ll defo do it there and back via Quoich as that path is amazing and the paths on the eastern side were not so much good. Also, the bit between Bhuird and the Sneck was just too steep and loose.
    Loved Beinn a Bhuird. Will be back soon.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
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    Ballater. HR is probably a red and only a couple of features that are trickier. Whether the Mrs would call it XC ? 2 hours tops to do it.

    Cheers @Bri-72 and others. Heartbreak Ridge was indeed excellent, if a little slow to get to. Kids were a bit tired that day.


    Nice ride back to the town along the river too. Decent weather too for a change.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Mastermind is a nice enduro natural trail near town and can do a climb and descent in about 45mins -1 hr. some quite tech bits but nothing too hard. It’s more a lot of steep tight and rocky bits than one single hard feature.

    Next day we went back to Ballater, had lunch and then it pissed it down with rain. Really annoying as it started just as we did. Anyway, headed up the hill in the rain and did MM. Met some blokes on the climb who I mined for info about decent routes nearby. They were clearly bemused about how we’d ended up at MM and politely and obliquely suggested that we were in the wrong place if looking for decent XC. The missus pushed bits and pieces but still enjoyed it. The wean and me enjoyed it, but agreed it would be much more fun in the dry. We did a lap of Old School and then we sessioned a bit of it whilst the other headed off to get dry.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
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    Next day as usual it was forecast to piss it down all day till 5pm, so we faffed about till mid afternoon and then got packing as evening approached. It continued to piss it down till after 6pm and even then it didn’t look like stopping. But we left the kids at the gaff and drove up to the Linn of Dee.
    The first part of the ride is great. Really scenic and then lovely techie sections as it climbs above Lairig Gru.

    Really really good.

    But then it all starts to go wrong. The rest of the ride was some godawful mix of classic Gru rounded boulders, bogs and water bars. Actually scratch that, the water bars are reasonable, it’s the endless stepping stones that really suck

    If it had been dry then it would probably have been ok, but as it was it was rank and slow going. Then of course it got dark!

    Which made it impossible to tell the difference between shallow puddles, muddy puddles, deep rocky puddles etc. Didn’t get back till about 11:30. As you can see from the photos it was by this time completely cloud free and gorgeous weather. WTF couldn’t it be like that during the day.
    Still, look on the bright side, at least we hadn’t taken the kids along.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Next day back to Ballatter:
    Do the Blue ascent, ET, Rollercoaster, Up and Down and have a mess about on the big slab:

    Finally this was exactly the sort of riding I’d been hoping for. Lovely granite slabs, sinuous singletrack, roots, Pine trees and lots of short up and downs. Lovely day.

    Next day we went up Morrone from Braemar. I think I’d been getting a bit stressed by trying to find stuff that they’d enjoy, so didn’t really chill out enough on Morrrone… the kids OTOH loved it. The little one especially just roared down the other side whooping and hollering as he did the bends. It was indeed a good trail, but I found the sharp rocks a bit sharp…

    Back to the gaff and then decided to make the most of the weather and do a wee evening ride….

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    If you get a good day and fancy getting the kids out and up high then a simple route to get up to 3 Munros is Geal Charn, Beinn Uldamain and A’Mharconaich from Balsporran Cottages south of Dalwhinnie on A9.

    Didn’t do this in the end as they were knackered and it didn’t really sound like their thing. But on the last evening, after the family Morrone ride I did an excellent Munro bagging round from Glenshee car park: Was a pretty horrible push up LRT/Ski Roads to Glas Moal, but after that was a lovely mixture of grass, great paths, rocks and the occasional swamp. Did Glas Moal, Cairn of Claise, Tolmount, Fafernie, Cairn Bannoch and Sagairt Mor. Crap photo, but it breaks the page up a bit… Was quite spooky up there in the evening and I was rationing time as it was getting on for 8pm by the time I got to the Loch Callater descent, otherwise I’d have hoovered up a couple more Munros. As advertised, Loch Callater descent was amazing, but I didn’t really do it justice as I was cooked from the day ride with the family (pushing 2.5 bikes up an almost Munro) and didn’t want to damage myself.
    Definitely want to go back with the family. If you miss out the wanton Munro Bagging I reckon we could do the Callater descent with ‘only’ 500m or ascent, which the kids would definitely see as a win.
    Alternatively it looks like the bagging could ‘easily’ be expanded to get a round dozen Munros without an obscene amount of work. Might have to try that out next year.

    Cheers for the info @Gordonwatt, you’re right about those lovely slabs. I’ll defo try your Lochnagar route next time too 🙂

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
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    So, excellent fortnight. Did loads of new stuff on Deeside and revisited some favourites near Aviemore. ~300km with around 9,000m of ascent I think in total.
    As ever there’s loads more I want to go back and try.

    Thinking of trying to get a group to go up in September, do HR, Beinn a Bhuird & Lochnagar. Hmmm

    Premier Icon shortbread_fanylion
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    Great stuff – your kids are hardcore!

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