British names including Hoy, Pendleton, Wiggins, Cooke, Cavendish, Atherton, Read and our very own Craig Mclean and Danny MacAskill are all a big deal when it comes to the international world of two wheels.
However, when you look at the facilities (natural and manmade) available to us, especially here in the Cairngorms National Park, the fact that the UK produces some of the most inspiring sportsmen and women are not all that surprising.
Here in the Cairngorms National Park we have 64km of off road routes (not to mention cycleways and exciting road routes) to choose from.
The many miles of natural cross-country routes are ideal for off-road riders and are open to a wide range of ages and fitness levels, not to mention safe. So, there is no reason not to hop on your bike.
Here What’s On investigates some routes that you may not be so familiar with, but are perfect for all the family.
Ideal for families, as it is so accessible being on the doorstep of Grantown-on-Spey, is Anagach Woods, which contains miles of forest trails. These trails link easily into longer and more technical routes on the Dava Moor and the Cromdale Hills. The Speyside Way and the Dava Way provide long rides through some wonderful countryside and for those looking for a challenge it is possible to complete a 50km round trip to Glenmore Forest. The famous Burma Road Route(which includes and epic climb!)is only 16km away and is a great place to challenge yourself further on a day trip.
Aviemore to Boat of Garten
For something different, why not head out along the Speyside Way from Aviemore to Boat of Garten? The track is wide and uncomplicated, and offers fantastic views of the Cairngorm mountain range. On arriving in Boat of Garten, you can tour around the magnificently scented pine forests, or grab a sandwich and soup, before heading into the village and taking the historic steam railway back into Aviemore. Just right for a family day out. You can buy some great biking maps from Rothiemurchus, as well as bike shops throughout the region, that detail a number of different routes in the area.
Ballater is surrounded by circular routes typically lasting between one and four hours. The Old Deeside Railway Cycle Route is especially suitable for families with tearooms and riverside views. Many of the routes are also great for spotting wildlife including buzzards, red squirrel, osprey and Highland cattle. The Cambus O’ Mey forest trials are incredibly picturesque and easy to navigate, with lochans, bridges and winding trails through the Scots Pine on waymarked routes, it’s the perfect place to tackle some low level mountain biking.
Blair Atholl has a network of more than 50 miles of paths, tracks and trails taking you along rivers, through forests and into the remote glens of the Cairngorms National Park. Glen Tilt on the Atholl Estates is one of the most impressive glens you will see. You can cycle as far as you wish – up beside the River Tilt to the beech avenue at Gilbert’s Bridge (4 miles), on to Marble Lodge or Forest Lodge (8 miles), or a full day’s hard ride right through to Royal Deeside. Only estate vehicles can use this route, so it is virtually traffic-free.
Brush up those skills
If you feel you need to brush up on your biking skills, or even need a bit of extra confidence to approach some of the more technical routes in the National Park, then why not book on a course? There are workshops for beginner’s right through to improver and teaching qualifications on offer at bike shops throughout the Park – as well as the all important bike maintenance courses to ensure you never get stuck! Have a look at the www.visitcairngorms.com website to find out where you can get expert advice on a cycling activity to suit you and, of course, where to hire a bike.
Look to the future….
The Glenlivet Estate will soon be opening two new trails of six and 12 miles long following approval in Dec 2011 from the National Park Authority. These trails will be built in the forests near Tomintoul alongside a hub in the forest at Carn Meilich and Carn Daimh.
All paths in Scotland – including those in the Cairngorms National Park – are multi-use paths, so you will see walkers, horse riders, bikers, and a host of other active folk on any given day and any given path. When out on your bike remember your bell or, failing that, shout a quick and polite “excuse me” as you approach other path users. Simple courtesy from everyone using the paths means that we all have a good day out! In addition, stick to the marked paths; the Cairngorms is home to an array of protected and valuable wildlife and conservation areas – it’s the reason why this special place is so beautiful. So please, whether you walk, ride, bike or hike help us keep it that way and stick to the paths.