gravel biking in the Cairngorms


Gravel Biking in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park is perfect to explore by bike and gravel biking is growing in popularity. Here are some suggested routes from Sally at local bike shop “Aviemore Bikes” that are perfect to explore by gravel or mountain bike. This is just a guide, please do your own research before heading out, timings and the gradings will be dependant on your own experience. Check out the Strava Route on a map as the ride description is not ‘turn by turn’.

Enjoy the ride!

What is a gravel bike?!
A gravel bike is a drop-bar bike designed to let you ride over many different surfaces.

You can hire Gravel Bikes from Aviemore Bikes, for other bike hire providers in the National Park see this page on VisitCairngorms.

Shorter Route | 30.2 km | 1.5-3 hours
‘Aviemore Bikes Gravel and Coffee!’

With Gravel Bikes being the ‘in thing’ and lots of folk looking for Gravel trails, this is a nice 30
Kilometre Loop starting and finishing at Aviemore Bikes. Covering a range of quiet roads and gravel paths
along the way, this route will take anything from 1 hr 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on ability and whether
or not you choose to stop for coffee and cake along the way (we recommend it!).

A gravel bike or hardtail mountain bike will be perfect for this loop of Rothiemurchus, Inshriach Forests and the Speyside Way.

Starting from our shop in town head out the usual way to Rothiemurchus and up the old logging way past the Cafe and Visitor Centre before taking a right turning signposted ‘BlackPark’, follow a singletrack road before it turns into a dirt track for a few Kilometres and leads you down to the Loch an Eilein road (if you haven’t seen Loch an Eilein
then take a short detour to check it out, it’s worth it).

Once at the road take a right and follow the singletrack road for a few minutes until you reach a slightly
bigger but still ‘back’ road, here you take a left and enjoy a good few quiet, twisting miles of road before
heading into the Inshriach Forest.

Gravel Biking in the Cairngorms
Through the Inshriach tracks

This is where the gravel starts! Enjoy around 8 Kilometres of wide gravel tracks through the forest, there are
no major climbs just fast rolling track through the forests and moors along with some stunning views of
Glenfeshie to the south of you along the way.

Upon arrival at a forestry car park, pop back on the road for 5 minutes over the famous Feshiebridge, another
must-see if you are in the area. The bridge dates back to the late 18th century. Follow the road for a few
kilometres and you will pass Loch Insh and eventually end up in the small village of Kincraig.

The first thing you will reach in Kincraig is the Old Post Office Cafe, a bustling, cycle-friendly cafe. Cycle Friendly Kingussie have even installed a helpful outdoor cycle maintenance stand right opposite. Look to the
left of the Cafe and you will also see signs for the Speyside Way and Aviemore, your return journey.

Image of and by: The Old Post Office Cafe Gallery

The Speyside Way is well signposted and is around 10 kilometres back to Aviemore, the path takes you
through the Alvie and Kinrara Estates on a gravel trail with some punchy climbs and exhilarating descents.

The Speyside Way spits you out at the south end of Aviemore next to the La Taverna Italian Restaurant, from
here it’s only 5 minutes back to the start point at Aviemore Bikes.

Medium Distance Route | 40.8 km | 2-4+ hours
‘Ryvoan Route’

Have you ever visited a Scottish Bothy before?

Well, why not take a trip to Ryvoan Bothy by bike and then continue over the Ryvoan Pass to the Villages of Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten?

Accessible by mainly wide forest paths, this is a great route for gravel bikes and mountain bikes that will take anything from 2 – 4 hours.
A ‘bothy’ is probably something you have read about when you have been planning your trip in Scotland, but
what are they?

A bothy is a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge, often found in the high mountains around Scotland and traditionally a place to find shelter if bad weather hits in the hills. But don’t be expecting any luxury……. Bothies sometimes may not even have a proper roof!

Gravel Biking in the Cairngorms

Nestled at the foot of Meall a’ Bhuachaille, Ryvoan Bothy is about 12 miles/20 kilometres from Aviemore on
well used paths.

Starting from Aviemore Bikes, head to Rothiemurchus and pick up the Old Logging Way trail to Glenmore, this trail is wide and very smooth and gently climbs for around 10 kilometres.

Upon reaching Glenmore you will pass Loch Morlich and its sandy beach at the foot of the Cairngorms. This is a great photo stop and also a last chance to stop for coffee and cake for a good few miles, The Pine Marten Bar +
is hard to miss situated next to the end of the Old Logging Way and is very bike-friendly.

After Loch Morlich, follow the road for a few hundred metres and you will see Glenmore Lodge Outdoor Centre
signposted next to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. Head towards Glenmore Lodge on the gravel cycle path
and into the Glenmore Forest.

Once you reach Glenmore Lodge, continue into the forest through the big Green Gate. After this point, for a
mile or two, the path will be slightly busier with walkers so please be courteous on the trails. Most walkers will
be heading to the Green Lochan (Lochan Uaine is its proper name!). When you pass it you will know why it’s
so popular and also aptly named the Green Lochan!

After the Loch it will quieten down again and the track leads you into the Abernethy RSPB Land, where it gets a wee
bit rockier. When the path splits, follow the left-hand fork signposted ‘Ryvoan’ and continue on the
rockier path (this is the bumpiest section of the whole ride).

Soon you will see the bothy peering out at the top of the hill.

Gravel Biking in the Cairngorms

From here follow the main, wide track for around 12 kilometers (mostly downhill) until you reach ‘Forest
Lodge’ and a crossroads. You want to follow the wide, smooth access track that heads off to your left as you
approach from the Ryvoan Pass, this track then spits you out on the Loch Garten Road, a scenic, quiet road
that leads you through the Loch Garten Nature Reserve and along the shores of Loch Garten.

From here you will notice a small off-road path next to the road, hop onto this track that winds through the
forest and eventually brings you out 1 kilometre from Boat of Garten.

From Boat of Garten you only have about 10 kilometres left of the route. The last section follows the Speyside
Way that starts on Kinchurdy Road opposite the Boat of Garten Village Store, definitely one of the friendliest shops in the Cairngorms with brilliant lunch and snack provisions. Enjoy the pristine, fast gravel to finish this great loop!

Longer Route | 81.7 km | 4-8 hours
‘Gaick and Route 7’

Next up in our local routes blog is a ride through the Gaick Pass. This Scottish Right of Way path takes you from
Tromie Bridge (near Kingussie) all the way through to Blair Atholl, mostly off road.

Remember our blogs are just an inspirational guide and you should do your own research before taking on a route. This is a remote route with little or no phone signal most of the way, please prepare accordingly.

Starting off at Tromie Bridge by Kingussie (there is very limited parking here, you may want to park in ‘Cycle Friendly Kingussie’ and cycle a few miles to the route start point – you will be coming back that way so no extra miles needed), follow the River Tromie into the glen. Firstly this is by Landrover track and then goes onto fast-rolling tarmac for about 12 kilometres, before you reach the Tromie Dam, which signals the start of the remote section of the ride.

Gravel Biking in the Cairngorms
Gaick Pass

The tarmac then turns into a wide Landrover track that takes you along the side of Loch an t’Seilich, where the views
are stunning. After the loch, you will be greeted by yet more magnificent views as you head along the
valley floor, past the Gaick Lodge.

Gaick Lodge is an old shooting lodge, which was once destroyed by an avalanche in the 18th century. When out on the route, you will notice how steep-sided the hills are in this glen, so it’s easy to see how it happened. As you follow the track past the lodge, you may also meet the resident horses of the glen, often out on the track, and these friendly horses love a photo!

After the lodge, keep following the main track as it gradually climbs through the glen. The views are even
more stunning around each corner.

You will soon reach another loch – Loch Bhrodainn. The track leads you down the east side of the loch. By now you have crossed a couple of the main river crossings. Luckily for us, we hit the route on a warm spring day and the rivers were fairly low. However, be prepared for pretty wet feet if you head this way on a wet day. This section of the track is named ‘Domingo’s Road’.

As you approach the next loch, the glen begins to open out and views become more open. The track turns then
to a rougher singletrack along Loch an Duin. It’s only a few kilometres and, again, as we were on the route on a dry
day, it was not too boggy and not too much pushing was required. However, when planning your route make
time for this bit as you may have to walk a little, depending on your skill level and the trail conditions. Again,
it’s another stunning piece of track with great views down the loch. By this point you have nearly completed
all of your climbing for the pass.

After the singletrack, and across the boggy section, you reach the Edendon River and see the Sronphadruig
Lodge (a deserted old shooting lodge) at the start of the Landrover track, that takes you back to the A9. The
river crossing point is nicely sheltered and offers a great sunny spot for lunch out of the wind!

Once back on the bike, enjoy your final 10 kilometres of fast Landrover tracks, which are mostly downhill all the
way to the A9, through the Dalnachardoch Estate. Soon you will hear the drone of the A9. Follow the track
under the A9 and you are onto the National Cycle Route 7, which has recently been re-tarmacked, so is running
nice and smooth.

Here you have two options. Either follow the cycle track south and, within about 10 kilometres, you reach the
House of Bruar, which handily has a great wee fish and chip shop to re-fuel! Or, begin your journey back north
following National Cycle Route 7.

Route 7 follows mostly old road and cycle ‘specific’ track. It is a gentle climb to the Drumochter Pass, and then
you can enjoy miles of rolling downhill to the village of Dalwhinnie. Dalwhinnie has a small petrol station with
a wee shop if you need some supplies, and it does also have it’s own distillery with a visitor centre if that’s
more your thing.

Gravel Biking in the Cairngorms
Dalwhinnie Distillery

Continue on Route 7 and the next village you reach is Newtonmore, followed by Kingussie and then only a few
more miles along the B970 and you are back at Tromie Bridge, your starting point.

There is no right or wrong way to ride this route, whether you fancy tackling it in a clockwise or anti-clockwise
direction you will still have a great time.

Due to the mixture of gravel terrain and tarmac, a gravel bike is the perfect choice for this route; it’ll keep you
rolling fast on the Route 7 sections, and be able to tackle the rougher tracks of the Gaick Pass.

Some more Cairngorms bike rides you might enjoy

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