North (of Aviemore) Scotland recommendations

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  • North (of Aviemore) Scotland recommendations
  • Premier Icon keppoch

    Planning a week in Northern Scotland (which in this case means areas north of Aviemore) in a months time. We have ridden in other areas of Scotland previously hence the northern migration.

    So with around 7 days riding time at our disposal this is on the current itinerary:

    Skye: Sligachan and Quirang
    Glen Affric – heard the name recommended but no idea on routes
    Moray Monster Trails
    Highland Wildcat, Golspie
    Learnie Red Rock

    Where else should we be heading? Route or location suggestions appreciated. I have the Phil Kane Scotland Wild Trails book so if any out of that are stormers or stinkers let me know.

    Also interested in great accommodation, I have spotted a stay in a disused train carriage that looks fun but will also have a tent and would like to stay in a Bothy having never done that before but it would need to be relatively accessible as we won’t be kitted to carry overnight stuff.

    We rode at Glen Tilt, Glen Feshie, Tyndrum – Taynault, Fort William, Laggan, Carron Valley and Aviemore last summer so looking to move on from there.


    Deffo the sligachan route but take lots of munchies and a decent waterproof. It’s pretty wild there different from the other areas where you said you had ridden.
    Glen affric is very picturesque but not very challenging. I cycled into the bothy with a full rucksack of camping and climbing gear with no problems.
    I was up around the golspie area last month. The best thing you could do is buy an os map of the area there are countless stunning paths and trails there outwith trail centres.


    Stop in at Square Wheels in Strathpeffer. You can get a map for the Contin trails including the Strathpuffer route. Some nice riding, fairly natural trails which is nice. Try the hot chocolate at the Maya shop in Strathpeffer too, awesome πŸ˜€

    Some interesting short rides around Inchnadamph (up to the Traligill Caves and back wouldn’t take more than 45 minutes, some very impressive/interesting scenery and a nice singletrack blast back down).

    The hill tracks up and over the hills immediately north of Kylesku are relatively easy going but with an excellent, fast descent to Achfary, again, the scenery would be half the attraction, not sure if that can be made into a decent loop or not (actually, on the map there is a loop, underneath Ben Stack…).

    Skye: Sligachan and Quirang
    Glen Affric – heard the name recommended but no idea on routes
    Carbisdale & Balblair
    Highland Wildcat, Golspie
    Contin & Strathpeffer

    sorted that for you, a better week up here you will not get. i dont think moray or learnie are worth the trips mate.


    I’m Local to the Moray trails and also don’t think they’re worth a detour unless you’re coming this way anyway. They’re nice for a muck about, but there’s plenty more further west that’s better. The list above as edited by Supremebean would be my choice. Balblair is an absolute cracker and nothing like any other trail centre I know. Proper rocky tech xc with some swoopy jumpy stuff to really make you whoop.
    Glen Affric route, Just ride out the forest roads to the South of the loch then back along the path to the North. Stunning scenery and pleasant riding.
    The classic Torridon circuit as discussed on this forum a million times, is an absolute ‘not to be missed’ ride.
    Apart from that… it’s a bit shite really. πŸ˜‰


    Spent 2 weeks up there riding every day. Golspie was quite fun, agree that Balblair was most excellent – incredibly great fun actually. Did a couple of long long overnighters straight off the OS maps – just found a route and a wee bit of hike a bike. All good. Also rode a bit on Skye and around the Knoydart area. The Sligachan route is nice, i’d imagine on a nice dat it would be fabulous, i was in a cloud most of the time but still moderately epic. Watch the nasty water bars though, ok on a 29er but i think they are 26.5″ wide πŸ˜‰
    LAggan was nice as well on the way through and around Aviemore obviously. In fact, why don;t i live there any more he wonders …


    supremebean’s list looks good, how did I forget about Balblair?! Accommodation at Carbisdale:

    yep carbisdale castle looks like a nice place to spend the night. although the trail is’nt the greatest it’s only a short scoot across the bridge to balblair. i would do balblair then head up to golspie (45 minute drive) in the same day, leaving a day to go somewhere else. there are a few fairly unknown trails in the inverness area if you like dh (very steep + techy) and i know of a brilliant wee xc type trail 30 mins from inverness which is well worth exploring just for the scenery alone.


    Up the west coast and down the east coast?

    Skye: Sligachan and Quirang
    Torridon – I’ve heard amazing things – hopefully this year
    Glen Affric – Can’t help you here
    Learnie Red Rock and Balblair etc
    Monster trails – if your passing through and have time on your hands but not worth the travel IMHO
    Royal Deeside – Fungle/Firmounth/Mt Keen/Loch Muick/Buird/Lochnagar, list is almost endless!
    Angus Glens – Glen Clova/Kilbo/Esk etc


    Local to Moray too and second what Jo said. If you don’t do anything else, do the Torridon Coulags circuit.


    Why would you do Carbisdale when you could do Balblair twice? It is a very short (think warm up) trail but there was just nothing there that made me think I’d ever want to go there again.

    Two threads on the front page about north of Scotland trails, how much does this make me want to ditch work right now!?!?

    I think the good stuff in Glen Affric is at the other end, there’s a loop from Glen Shiel that brings you to the Glen Affric ‘hostel’ then descends back to Glen Shiel again. It’s been fairly well documented in other threads (try ‘bealach an sgairne’ as a search). Google Earth suggests some other options but I’ve never heard of them being ridden and I want to be the first 8)

    If you drive up the Loch Carron road then you can get access to a few ‘interesting’ trails. Through Attadale forest and descending to Glen Ling is one, up to the Falls of Glomach and back is another, although that would feature a bit of walking both up and down. Spectacular falls though.

    Torridon would keep you very happy for 2 or 3 days – Achneshellach loop for a day plus Coire Mhic Nobhuil, Ben Damph loop and Lower Diabeg to Red Point as half day rides.

    Skye – Quirang loop on a bike would be really interesting. I reckon Sligachan best done as an out and back unless you like long road rides

    Not quite north of Aviemore, but a good shout from Messiah for Deeside. Ben a Bhuird is great and lots of routes around Lochnagar and Loch Muick.

    Premier Icon keppoch

    Wow my thread has come alive πŸ˜€ thanks for all the suggestions, sounds great, I need to get back on my Google Earth planning all the locations and sew it together for a week.

    Balbair and Moray comments useful too. Also Slichagan as a out-and-back seems to be the consensus.

    I will check them all out πŸ˜€

    Can’t wait to get riding now, hope the weather is as good as it presently is out of the office window!

    Premier Icon keppoch

    This is how the plan is looking:

    Saturday Drive up to Mallaig
    Sunday Sligachan
    Monday Glen Brittle, Quirang Circuit and mini Skye Trail centre
    Tuesday Torridon Circuit
    Thursday Balblair and Kyle of Sutherland Trails
    Friday Golspie Wildcat
    Saturday Glen Affric Day 1 (into SYHA)
    Sunday Glen Affric Day 2 (out of SYHA and drive home)

    The gap is now for our Wednesday ride. This will be out of Torridon. The circuit ride will be the one out of the Phil Kane book, “Scotland the Wild Trails” I think this is also known as the Achneshellach loop and takes in Annat too but no idea what to do on the second day there, these were mentioned:

    – Coire Mhic Nobhuil
    – Ben Damph loop
    – Lower Diabeg to Red Point

    as shorter rides (which would be good as we have a fair drive that day). Can anyone elaborate, ideally with a map, gpx or string of locations from which I can map.


    Premier Icon seosamh77

    Ben Damph loop is good i’ve done that, if it’s the same as I did. We started from the pub and out the fireroad at the back of that for a bit, across the road up to the loch, which is a flat scoot along the loch, getting more overgrown as you go, but it’s all cyclable, in the wet it’s really wet but still solid enough, beware the sheep dogs, bastards had me keeking it, uphill run round the back of the mountain, which should be mostly cyclable if you get good weather(It was really really soggy when i did it, so a struggle) and then a good downhill back to where you started. would be good on a good day, was good on a bad day, only spoiled by my brakes failing/melting half way down the downhill finish.(brand new pads put on the day before too, did i mention the weather was crap? :D)

    Think this is the only picture I have of that loop, the rain finally stoped long enough to get a picture! this is at the top just before the downhill.

    I don’t know the Phil Kane book.

    The classic Torridon loop is Torridon to Loch Clair, along the track, lochside path, track, then path to Drochaid Coire Lair, down to Achnashellach, road to Coulags, path to Bealach na Lice and down to Annat. One of the absolute best loops in the UK. Next time I do it I’m going to try going up from Annat to Bealach na Lice, round to Coire Lair and Coire Grannda then down to Drochaid Coire Lair.

    Annat descent

    Annat descent by CaptainMainwaring1, on Flickr

    For a shorter day, the Ben Damph loop probably your best bet. Pretty much as seosamh77 said. Start at Annat, road or lochside path to pick up the track at 857542, along the loch to Kinloch Damph and turn left up the path up Strath a Bhataich and back to Annat. Great in the dry, boggy bits but OK in the wet.

    A great out and back would be Coire Dubh Mor from the car park at 958568. Just keep heading up round Sail Mor as far as you want. If you can make it to Coire Mhic Phearchir, it’s an awesome spot

    Ben Eighe by CaptainMainwaring1, on Flickr

    Did the Coire McNobhuil loop from the Kenny Wilson book which was an absolute march of doom.

    absolute march of doom.

    As is Lower Diabaig to Red Point. STOP at Craig’s, midway along, then turn back. This makes for an excellent ~10k evening ride watching the sunset over the Cuillin 8)

    Premier Icon robgarrioch

    Probably a bit late, but a wee alternative for your Wednesday could be the Fionn Loch path from Poolewe, as covered by Druidh, 13thfloormonk and myself. Fairly lo-tech trail (unless you take the Londubh to Kernsary diversion for a little trials practice), but the reward of getting up to the causeway outweighs the effort of getting there by some way.

    Path on North side of Loch Kernsary –

    keppoch, balblair and golspie are quite small, i would do balblair a few times in the morning and head up to golspie for the afternoon on thursday, leaving a day for somewhere else. maybe do strathpeffer on fri morning, learnie in the afternoon (quick one)and you could go for a quick blatt around abriachan bike trail on your way down the a82 towards glen affric. just a thought?

    captainmainwaring, nice pic of the triple butress, and how clear is the water in that wee loch? i was up there a few weeks ago bagging the two munro’s up on beinn eighe. it was a horrible misty day so did’nt get the views that you probably did. on the other side of that loch there is a ww2 lancaster bomber scattered around, bits of fuselage and wheels etc.
    also, that track going up to the loch has a branch coming off it heading to torridon, i have’nt done it but it looks like a possible loop?

    supremebean, yep I did the two Beinn Eighe Munros via the loch as well. On a previous walk there we found the Lancaster remains – not just the fuselage bits, but also a perfectly intact Merlin engine sitting upright with the cam covers off. V12 OHC engine in 1940 – seriously advanced

    The path branch you saw is probably the one heading off down Coire Mhic Nobhuil. The Kenny Wilson book recommends doing the loop clockwise which is the march of doom I referred to. IIRC the descent would be mostly rideable, but questionable whether it would be worth the carry up – pleasant but not great. A lot of the height you gain ends up as a road descent at the other end

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