The Cairngorms National Park is a fantastic place for a bike-ride, whatever your level as there are routes for everyone. But wherever you go, one thing that’s going to make your experience even more magic is a good coffee and cake to refuel along the way! We spill the (coffee) beans on 12 of the best options for hungry bikers….
It seems apt to start with this wonderful cafe, beautifully situated in Kincraig with views over the Spey and Loch Insh, because it was voted runner up in UK Cycling’s ‘Cyclist Cafe of the Year’ during lockdown.
And no wonder, as co-owner Toni Vastano really understands what bikers want out of a pit-stop being an enthusiastic cyclist himself (or, “cycling daft” as his co-owner and wife, artist Ann Vastano puts it!).
Cyclist-customers of The Old Post Office Cafe Gallery commented after the award was given that “your donuts and coffee have fuelled many a bike ride for me”, “best coffee stop post bike-ride” and “a great treat after epic road and mountain bike rides in the area”.
The cafe sits just at the end of the Speyside Way section from Aviemore – a distance of around 11km of well kept gravel track, suitable for mountain, gravel and electric bikes. While the track is new and very well signposted, it does also contain some gnarly, steep sections, which less confident, or younger cyclists, may need to push their bikes on.
The cafe also sits on a popular road bike loop which encompasses Kincraig, Feshiebridge, and Rothiemurchus and back.
This cosy cafe is famed for its freshly baked, generously-sized scones and cakes, baked on site, and fabulous coffee. Or, if you want to be healthier, the soups have a good reputation too!
There’s also a variety of cycle routes in the area surrounding the cafe, too. Nethybridge is known as “the forest village” and there are charming woodland routes, which the kids will love. For example, there’s the 5 miler from Nethybridge to Boat of Garten via the Speyside Way.
Or, if you’re after doing a more epic route, you could cycle the “Pass of Ryvoan” which takes you from Glenmore, near Aviemore, climbing up to Ryvoan Bothy, over the top to Nethybridge. You’ll deserve coffee and cake after that!
You could head back afterwards or, even, stay overnight in one of the cafe’s B&B rooms.
This is Nethy House’s sister cafe, so you can expect the same high quality level of cake, coffee and other goodies. And, if you’re a mountain biking enthusiast, you couldn’t find a more perfectly placed cafe because it sits just at the foot of BikeGlenlivet trails (as its name suggests!).
Once you’ve done a few runs, you can easily pop in and re-energise before going out again – or you can intermittently motivate tired legs with hot choc and ice creams in between bursts! With its child-friendly pump track next to the cafe and range of runs to suit different abilities, this is a great option for all the family.
The cafe is also a local information centre for the Cairngorms National Park, which means staff are ready and able to answer questions about the local area generally.
*Please note that this cafe is in the Moray area and, at time of writing, there’s restricted travel here so the cafe was closed midweek and only open at weekends, although the bike trails remained open to locals – so please check the guidelines before you travel.
Throughout the restrictions, this was one of the most buzzing places to be in the Cairngorms, particularly on a nice day when locals flocked to the benches here to guzzle the gorgeous coffee, or a burger/bacon bun or delicious cake. With plenty of space, it’s a great meeting place for a bike ride with numerous stunning trails and road routes easily accessible.
For instance, it’s easy to cycle round Loch an Eilein from here, which is a firm favourite for families. Or, you could do this and incorporate a loop of Loch Morlich, too, if you’ve got the energy! Alternatively, you could do a short ride up to the pretty Lilly Loch and loop around to end up back at the Barn.
If you’re more of a cheese fan than cake, then The Milk Hoose is definitely the bike-stop for you. This cafe has won awards for its unusual, mouth-watering creations from its toasties to platters to haggis combos! And if you’re a health-conscious type (which you might well be given you’re on a bike) then you may also be interested to know that all its cheeses are made from raw cows milk, associated with many health benefits, not to mention being more flavoursome.
As the name suggests, it’s decorated like an old milk house with all sorts of historical dairy equipment and cheese paraphenalia adorning the walls, which is an experience in itself.
Of course, if you’re hankering for something sweet that is on the menu too – its scones, traybakes and Italian coffee are legendary locally, too.
The Milk Hoose is located on the A93 Ballater Road, next to the River Dee, between Dinnet and Ballater. As such it’s a good in-between-stop for both mountain bikers and roadies. The Deeside Way track passes the cafe, and this follows the old Royal Deeside railway track from Aberdeen to Banchory, which has amazing views of the River Dee, along with historical remains from the railway era along the way. For more on this route, see here.
If you want a pit-stop that is close to nature and right on a cycle route – Alvie Forest Food is as close as it gets. Set outside in the forest (as the name suggests!) at Dalraddy Holiday Park, this is a takeaway service with benches and raincover nearby. It’s literally a stone’s throw from the Speyside Way running from Aviemore to Kincraig and just next to the B9152 road, also from Aviemore to Kincraig.
While you can often get delicious puddings and cake here, it would be remiss not to try the locally foraged, grown or reared food for which this option is famous. That being the case, it could make the perfect end-of-day stop after an epic day of cycling for which you could royally reward yourself with a mouth-watering dinner. How about BBQ smoked pulled pork with apple sauce and onions on a brioche bun? Or smoked portobello mushrooms and chipotle BBQ bean burrito? Or the Cairngorm hotdog?
Alternatively, at weekends, Alvie Forest Food often opens to serve breakfasts, so you may want to start your day by fuelling-up here. Opening times vary, so the best thing is to check its Facebook page here. Usually it’s open from 12-7.30pm.
At how many cafes can you sit outside enjoying stunning views while being entertained by Kara, the African Grey parrot, who is known for her amazing vocabulary? At this cafe, you can (you can even follow Kara on Facebook here).
This cafe is not only in easy cycling reach of the bike trail centre Wolftrax (a couple of miles away), but it’s also on popular road routes, on the A86 between Newtonmore and Fort William.
As well as enjoying Kara, you can also enjoy all sorts of gastronomic goodies here including bacon roles, Isle of Arran ice cream, hot chocolate, cakes, paninis, and lots more! You can even pick up a print of local landscape or greeting card.
Again, opening times vary so best to follow on Facebook.
As you might guess from its name, this cafe is slap bang next to a cycling route – Route 7. From its doorstep you can take a gorgeous, mostly easy cycle route (suited to hybrid or mountain bikes as it’s gravel) to Boat of Garten, about 6 miles in total. The track traverses fields of heather with vast, open views over the Cairngorm mountain range.
This is a particularly popular route for families as there is the added attraction of the steam train chugging past mid-cycle. Route 7 Cafe is also a particularly good choice for families, and it prides itself on its friendly atmosphere and welcoming of little people, with things like colouring in paper and pens on site. It also has a wood-burning range cooker and wood-fired pizza oven and serves delights such as BBQ pulled pork ciabatta with Monterey Jack Cheese and vegan portobello and mixed veg toasted ciabatta.
And, of course, because it knows the sacred relationship between cyclists and cake there is lots of sweet treats too. Cranberry Ginger Crunch, anyone?
There are few road rides more epic to tackle than the SnowRoads (for Aviemore Bikes blog about doing this, see here). This amazing 90 mile stretch of road encompasses not one – but two – Scottish ski resorts, the Lecht and Glenshee. So, if you attempt this feat, you will definitely need to plan your pitstops in advance.
At one of the most dramatic, high peaked points of this road, the A93, the highest road in the UK, you’ll find Glenshee Ski Resort’s Base Cafe. Used to serving sustenance to skiers, you can find all manner of food fuel here from freshly made sandwiches, to pies, to salads to – of course – coffee and cake. And, naturally, while you sip your coffee (from the highest cafe in Scotland, perhaps?) you’ll be treated to amazing views, too.
Perfectly located at the foot of the Laggan Wolftrax Mountain Bike Trail Centre, the cafe has undergone some refurbishment ready for the 2022 season. The cafe offers a great welcome, fantastic food and the perfect base for your day at Laggan Wolftrax. Situated just off the A86 Laggan to Fort William road, this is also a great stop off point for tourers exploring Scotland.
Another popular, but shorter challenge for road cyclists that want to challenge themselves is the climb up from Aviemore to the base station at Cairngorm Mountain. By the time you get here, you’ll have a thirst on, so you’ll want to head to the Cairngorm Cafe.
Formerly known as the T-Bar, you’ll find it on level 2 of the Day Lodge. It’s been recently refurbished and the wood panelling adorned with old fashioned skis and poles gives the cafe a cosy, heart-warming feel. Depending on the weather, you may want to warm up by the wood burning stove, or head outside and enjoy your drink on the terrace overlooking the resort.
The cafe sells a range of hot and cold food, and can also provide a full-on hot lunch, if that’s what you’re after.
The Pine Marten Bar & Scran is in a great location close to Loch Morlich and the Old Logging Way cycle trail. Super welcoming and highly entertaining, a visit to the Pine Marten Bar is a must if you are in the area. Catering for breakfast, lunch and dinner this is a popular spot for the nearby campsite and for cyclists and walkers out enjoying the Cairngorms. Once you have earned your scran cycling up to Glenmore you can cycle back downhill to Aviemore well fed.
Follow the Pine Marten Bar on Facebook and Instagram for some brilliant, what should be award winning banter!