Tour of the Cairngorms – which way round?

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  • Tour of the Cairngorms – which way round?
  • WillC9999
    Member

    Planning on doing this later this month, camping but eating in pubs etc to save weight. Will probably arrive at Blair Atholl early afternoon which leaves a dilemma. All the route descriptions I can find describe going clockwise to Kingusse, Tomintoul, Braemar, Blair. This would give a BIG ride for an afternoon/evening from Blair to Glenmore campsite (70km?). Alternatively a much more reasonable 40km gets you to Braemar, perfectly feasible for an afternoon. Is there some reason why going anticlockwise is bad? River crossings? Terrain? Missing the Tilt descent? Dog Soldiers at Geldie Lodge..?!
    Advice gratefully received 🙂

    oldbloke
    Member

    Did it clockwise in a day several years back. I only recall one dampish crossing and there was only one route finding point which I remember being easier that way round.

    None of the terrain is hard, but if you’re carrying camping kit with you and starting in the afternoon, I presume you want to take your time & enjoy it. Blair to Glenmore will probably be a bit far to enjoy in that time, although possible to do.

    doh
    Member

    i would stick with the traditional way round, this includes a good amount of road and “easy” tracks making the 70km faster than it sounds. going up the tilt would prob take as long.

    WillC9999
    Member

    Is there more height gain/pushing on the Tilt-Braemar stretch than the Gaick-Tromie then? I’ve ridden the Tromie side and that’s pretty fast, unless the wind is against you. I was also thinking that, if the Lon an Duin outflow is impassable, arriving from the north would be better as you could traverse the loch down the east side (is this remote possible?!), rather than arriving from the south and have to reverse etc?

    oldbloke
    Member

    If the outflow is impassable, one suggestion was wading the loch before the outflow. Another was to go further downstream. It would have to be pretty high to make a 2.5km push down the east side a more appealing alternative. If it were that bad, that implies enough rain that your camping idea might be the greater problem.

    doh
    Member

    if the river is too high you can trudge through the bog to reach the path along the loch. this adds about 20-30mins. i wouldnt try the east side for any reason.
    reaching glenmore campsite will still be tough though if you are leaving much after 12pm

    WillC9999
    Member

    Some good advice here, thanks folks. I think if significant rain is likely I’ll give it a miss. I think there is a fair bit of snow in the ‘Gorms currently too so snow melt might be an issue perhaps. I was unable to make the Fords of Avon crossing once in May because of run off from the plateau.

    WillC9999
    Member

    Getting to crunch time – the trip is on this weekend (Fri – Tues) if at all. Weather not brilliant with sleet Fri but maybe improving after that?
    The Loch an Duin crossing may be critical. I wonder, are any/all of the footbridges marked downstream between Duin and Bhrodainn are real or imaginary? Anyone have any up to date info?

    >Anyone have any up to date info?<

    Rain / snow melt would need to be biblical to trouble you on that crossing. Seem to remember answering this question last year – do a search.

    kcr
    Member

    I know a crowd of people that were round the route about 10 days ago. No problems on any of the crossings.

    Unless conditions change dramatically, you should be ok with the traditional route out over the Gaick to Tromie. There is a lot of snow high above you on the plateau but that shouldn’t be a problem as the outlook is for conditions to stay cold enough to keep it up there. The sudden thaw on Sunday past from rain and mild wind has long since run away to the sea and new snow is gathering again above 750m.
    The descent at the end of your ride, down into the Tilt gorge is probably the technical highlight of the whole tour, so doing the route anti-clock would lose you this best section.
    Pushing on as far as Glenmore campsite makes your first afternoon and evening a brute and your second, to Tomintoul, quite short. Surely dropping out of Tromie at Kingussie/Kincraig would make a better first day, then back into the woods at Feshiebridge next morning, to ride the Bothy Trail, Cairngorm Club bridge, Glenmore etc.
    The singletrack on the west side of the loch at the Gaick Pass is sublime, don’t miss it. You can avoid a double crossing of the burn there to get to it, by bog-trotting the ridge at the top of the riverbank. Mucky, but quicker than crossing the burn twice.

    Ewan
    Member

    We did this last year. We went clockwise starting at the train station.

    WillC9999
    Member

    Thanks a lot for this folks – more really useful practical stuff. We are carrying camping gear but the obvious Kingussie area stopover lacks a campsite. Kingussie itself is a bit off route but we could go there for chips and a pint then head back towards Feshiebridge area and kip in the woods…but, we also need breakfast. Guess we could pack a couple of pork pies for that, and push on to something hot at Coylumbridge..?
    After that it looks OK – Tomintoul has a tolerated wild campsite and pub/cafe; Braemar has a campsite/pub (and hopefully a shower!) and then it’s back to Blair to eat a horse.
    Anyone know if the campsite in Blair is cool with leaving a vehicle there for 3 days..?

    druidh
    Member

    IIRC, Loch Insh watersports is open for breakfast. That would be in the right neck of the “woods” for you.

    We left a few cars in the Glen Tilt car park for three days to do a similar tour last year. Route was different to your but the cars were still there when we returned 🙂

    Loch Insh is a good call – phone them and see what they have to say re local camp spots. Kingussie karaoke can be interesting mind you, I’d be torn myself 😉

    I wouldn’t worry about your cars btw just park up somewhere unobtrusive.

    Premier Icon chickenman
    Subscriber

    So, how realistic is doing this one in a day? Anyone done it? How many hours in the saddle? The terrain’s not as tough as some, but it’s still 200km. 16 hours of riding be about right?

    WillC9999
    Member

    It is done. Utterly magnificent. Day 1 through the Gaick was, as predicted, cold and wet. Day 2 dry and cool with brilliant single track through Rothiemurcus and beautiful tracks to Tomintoul. Day 3 sunny cruising down the Avon, and a stupidly fast descent to Braemar. Day 4 the amazing Tilt and single track excitement.
    When the weather is good, there is nowhere I would rather ride.
    No river crossings proved a problem despite a bit of snow melt.
    Thanks again for all the advice 🙂

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