Scotland is such a mecca for off-road cycling now that if you’ve any interest at all in cycling you really ought to add Scotland to your bucket list. There’s plenty of information out on the web about various different areas and there are options for everyone and all abilities, especially with the increase in the popularity of electric bikes.
The advantage of cycling here in the Cairngorms is that there is such a variety of routes that you can literally take anyone out and about for any length of time.
As with all sports the routes and reports you hear about the most are made by true afficionados. You might never hear about the wee pootles you can do with the kids, or the gentle paths winding through the forests; or the sights you can include on your ride. The sheer choice of off-road track here means that you can cycle for miles without seeing a car or if you want, there are miles of quiet lanes to explore on the road bike.
Cycling in the Cairngorms
- Family cycling – natural trails: options include – Rothiemurchus Estate, Glenmore Forest, Speyside Way (perhaps linked with the Strathspey Steam Railway). If you’re on Strava or MTBtrails, you can probably find routes other people have ridden with some advice and details.
- Family cycling – the trail centres: options include: Glenlivet, Laggan Wolftrax, Learnie Red Rocks, Moray Monster Trails. The closest centre to us at the moment is Glenlivet. They have a long blue run and an even longer red run. The main disadvantage at the moment to riding at Glenlivet is that the cafe/shop is not currently operating. It was fine for us on our last visit as we didn’t have any major incidents but it was a whole lot quieter than it used to be.
Family cycling in Glenmore Forest
Half-day rides and adventures
There are so many options here from the front door and slightly further away, that our main recommendation would be to make sure you allow plenty of time to try out different choices. Maybe start with one of the trail centres to get your eye in, test your skill level, book a guide perhaps to increase your confidence.
From Boat you can try a big ride like the Burma Road, or cycle through to Nethybridge and get the steam train back (or the other way round). You can continue on to Grantown.
Don’t be afraid to explore and make sure you have a map! We have trail maps at Fraoch Lodge and there’s an excellent hire stop in the village: Ride
If you only get to Nethy, stop in at Nethy House to refuel.
If you get to Grantown, try the High Street Merchant (they’re licensed if you fancy a beer and right next door to Two Thirsty Men micro brewery).
Tying in the riding with more adventure
For the more adventurous – bikepacking adventures in the Cairngorms
This is what I see the most publicity and vibe about here in the Cairngorms at the moment, but that could just be my media bubble filtering through only articles it thinks will interest me. Bikepacking is not new. People have been doing it for years – touring with their bikes. It now has a sexy new name and new gear making better use of the bike frame for carrying equipment to make it easier for you and more streamlined.
The sheer size of the Cairngorms lend themselves to multi-day adventures – on foot or by bike, or even on horseback. Check out some of these adventures recorded on YouTube.
Recommended resources for mountain biking in the Cairngorms
Trail maps – excellent detailed maps for different routes around the Cairngorms including identified hazards and recommended directions for riding the route
Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland – they have developed a guide to all the trail centres in Scotland where you can virtually ride the tracks. There’s also a lot of advice about different trails.
The best mountain bike trails in Scotland (as recommended in Singletrack)