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What does ‘off the beaten track mean to you’? Depending on how adventurous you are, the phrase can mean different things to different people. It can be scary to choose the path less travelled by, but the benefits from getting off the beaten track in Scotland are exhilarating.

Skye Munros - Scotland

Topping out on the Innaccessable Pinnacle in glorious sunshine weather, Skye May 2016

But, this certainly doesn’t mean you need to skip all the top sites like Loch Ness. For some, getting out of cities is rural enough and therefore Loch Ness is a great choice. But for those feeling adventurous and wanting to get a little more remote, we can help you there.

So, how to find a place where few people go?

Wanting to find a little peace and quiet is the most natural thing in the world whether you’re most at home surrounded by nature, a city dweller or somewhere in between. And arguably, there is no better place than the Highlands of Scotland. Known for its epic beauty, contrasting scenery and out of this world views, you’ll soon find yourself where the air and water are fresher and the most prominent noises keeping you company is nature at its finest.

The Cairngorm National Park is the ideal base for you to experience and explore the remoteness the Highlands can offer. Depending how far off the beaten track you want to get you’ll find an array of options suited for all fitness levels and ages. Offering options to be guided, or self exploration if you prefer, Scot Mountain Holidays has it all.

Mountain peaks

We understand that only you know what getting off the beaten track means. But, Scot Mountain Holiday trips, by definition are all off the beaten track. It’s unlikely you’ll see crowds of people during any typical day with us. Choosing one of our trips is a great way to decide if the more unusual spots and a more active vacation is the way forward for you.

Whether you’re after hiking, mountain biking, walking or countryside relaxation, you’ll find it here.   We can help organise a tailor-made trip for you, friends and family. Or, you can join one of our scheduled trips where you’ll meet like-minded people and gain friends for life. The choice is yours.

Review: Mountain biking centre – Laggan Wolftrax

As with all forestry commission mountain biking centre, you may need to be careful with your timing. If there is logging taking place, some of the trails may be out of bounds. Also, if you visit out of season (i.e. during the winter – as I did) the café may not be open. However, not to worry. There is a café close by at Laggan Pottery which comes very highly recommended.

mountain biking centre

Riding on a red trail at Laggan Wolftrax

Mountain biking centre: Trails:

When I visited there was logging taking place so the green and orange trails were out of bounds. Unfortunately this means that this instantly made the centre unfriendly to family biking as only red and black trails were accessible.

The climb up to the red trails requires some fitness, out of season as there is no uplift available then. There used to be uplift available but there’s no mention of it on their website now so you’d need to check with them directly if it is available.


Find the trail map here


There is no bike hire available on site any more. A new bike hire shop is due to open in Laggan soon.

If you are staying at Fraoch Lodge, and you are wanting to hire bikes, you can’t go wrong with the hire bikes at Ride Cairngorms in Boat of Garten. The bikes Nash has available for hire are suitable for all the trails at Laggan, though you may want to bring your own bike is you are keen on riding black runs. Few if any of the bike shops in the area offer full-sus bike hire due to the cost of maintaining &/or replacing the bikes.

Family friendly or not?

At the time I visited, the mountain biking centre at Laggan was not as friendly as we would have hoped. They have discontinued the uplift for the red runs and at that point both the cafe and the easier green/orange runs we closed. If the lower tracks are open, there would at least be some trails for the younger kids to ride, but they are quite short. It wouldn’t give a huge amount for the kids to do and in the summer you’d need to be on the lookout for midges. Glenlivet mountain biking centre was much more child friendly when we went there.


Watch out for events taking place at Laggan as the centre may not be open to the general public while the event is on or alternatively you may want to take part in the event. Don’t forget it’s not far to Fort William from Laggan and you can ride on the World Cup Downhill course there. The World cup in Fort William usually takes place in June.

Laggan hosts the following events:

Full details here

How to find Laggan Wolftrax mountain biking centre

Distance from Fraoch Lodge: 31 miles (44 minutes driving time)

From Fraoch Lodge, turn left out of the drive and head out of Boat of Garten to the A95.

Follow the A95 towards Aviemore but turn right on to the A9 heading south.

Continue on the A9 until the turn off for Kingussie.

Turn right and go through Kingussie and into Newtonmore.

Drive through Newtonmore until you see Newtonmore hostel on the right. Turn right here onto the A86.

Follow the A86 past Ardverikie castle and along Loch Laggan until you see signs for Laggan Wolftrax on your left.


Natural trails in the area

Glenlivet Trail Centre


Are you struggling to find the right travel insurance?

When it comes to planning an adventure holiday, we often overlook the hidden gems of the UK. Here in Scotland plenty of adventure is on offer;

Whether this is your first adventure holiday or you’re an avid explorer, you need to make sure you have the right travel insurance. Making sure you have the right travel insurance will ensure you are able to enjoy your trip. You’ll have peace of mind that should the worst happen – you will be covered.

Many believe travel insurance is solely for overseas holidays. Unfortunately even in the UK there’s still a chance you may need to cancel the trip or return home early. The cost of a UK adventure holiday can soon add up; what with the travel expenses, accommodation, food expenses and excursions. You’ll want to make sure you protect that investment.

walking in Scotland

On top of the world

Understanding travel insurance

The guys over at Travel Insurance Explained understand how tricky it can be to understand the jargon of the travel insurance industry. They have given us some key points to look out for when buying a suitable adventure holiday policy.

Most policies will offer cover for pre-booked UK holidays of two nights or more. Usually these include cover for cancellation, medical expenses and personal possessions as standard.

TIP: When selecting your policy, make sure the cover level is suitable. If you have paid £1000 per person for your holiday, then the cover level should match this. If you chose a policy with an inadequate level of cover you could find yourself out of pocket. Should you need to make a claim most insurers will only pay up to the stated cover level.

So, how about covering the activities? Under standard travel insurance a select number of activities will be covered, and most policies will allow you to add on those that are slightly more dangerous for an additional premium.

where to go in the Highlands

Restrictions on adventure travel insurance

It is important to note; most policies will have a height restriction on certain activities. For example, mountaineering up to 1000m may be covered as standard; however, climbing higher could require an additional premium. Likewise, leisure cycling may be covered but off-road biking may not. Always check with your tour guide to make sure you are aware of the heights and activities you will be participating in and if you are unsure, call your travel insurance provider to clarify the right level of cover.

Generally speaking, standard travel insurance policies will not offer cover for sports equipment. Having said that, there are more specialist sports travel insurance policies available or you could simply look for a company which offers a ‘sports equipment extension’ for an additional premium.

If this is something that is not offered by your policy either look for one that will cover this or check your personal possession cover on your home insurance. We always recommend checking your policy wording carefully to make sure you are buying a policy that covers all your needs.

Once the travel insurance is out the way, you are free to enjoy your break and truly get your teeth stuck into some adventure – enjoy!

mountain biking in Scotland

Enjoy the wild parts of the UK out on your bike


Burma Road: Natural MTB Trails in the Cairngorms

The Burma Road route is a fantastic way to see spectacular views of the Cairngorms and the picturesque countryside of the National Park. Graded hard and requiring a high fitness level to complete, this 26-mile cycling route is achievable in four to five hours.

Trekking over a mixture of tarmac, dirt, grass and rocky tracks makes sections of the trail challenging. And with a three mile extremely steep climb the initial part of the route can come across as particularly challenging. But, overall it is worth the initial exertion.

Map of the Burma Road route.

Map of the Burma Road Route.


26 miles/41km

Approx. calorie count:

1800 kcal


allow around 4 or 5 hours cycling time.




Scot Mountain Holidays route

The official start point of the cycle begins in Aviemore, an enjoyable and relatively easy 6-mile ride from Fraoch Lodge across the countryside. Once reaching Aviemore it’s as simple as following the main road through town, crossing the A9 and following a single tarmac road to the Scripture Union Centre at Alltnacriche. Having followed the route through a forest gate this is where things begin to get difficult.

The Burma Road views

Views from the Burma Road Classic

The climb

The climb is very steep and walking is often quicker then riding at a gradient of this level. Certainly, you wouldn’t be alone in getting off your bike and pushing. The climb stretching over 3-miles levels out at points, but you will likely spend the uphill section hopping on and off your bike. Make sure to turn around regularly during the ascent as the view is well worth the exertion.

Once you have reached the top, the path down is quick and steep. The route in this section is made up of gravel and loose stones caused from water erosion. This will limit your speed, and you will need a fair amount of control and concentration to get down safely. The end of the descent can be celebrated once you reach a wide bridge. This also signifies the countryside section of the route having crossed the bridge.

The Burma Road Classic route

During the Burma Road classic

The countryside

From here it’s as simple as following the path alongside the left hand of the river. The path is overall a wide and good one. But, you will find small patches of boggy ground, grassy paths and several gates to go through. After a very enjoyable ride through the countryside the very end of the path is marked by a T intersection. Take the track leading right and you’ll pass over a bridge, up a small hill and you’ll find yourself back on tarmac.

The last stretch

Mostly downhill and with limited traffic the road to Carrbridge is one of the easiest sections of the day. About halfway along you’ll see a sign on the left hand side of the road to Sluggan bridge. This impressive structure is well worth the short 1-mile detour.

Sluggan Bridge

The Sluggan Bridge

After continuing on and reaching Carrbridge, make sure you stop for the iconic pictures of the bridge. And perhaps even a well-deserved pint at the local pub.

Burma Road

The 18th century packhorse bridge of Carrbridge

Boat of Garten is only 5 miles further from Carrbridge and it’s as simple as following the ‘7’ bike route back to base.

Map of the Burma Road route.

Map of the Burma Road Route.


External links:

More pictures and description of the route from Dave Banks

Share and compare the route

The route reviewed in The Herald newspaper

The Burma Raod in the Inverness Courier

Travel experiences play one of the most important roles in why so many of us continue to explore the world. Although this age of technology allows us to document almost every part of our day, nothing compares with experiencing something firsthand.

Hiking in Scotland

What more could you ask for from a hiking holiday in Scotland

So what makes travel experiences so much more special compared to our normal day-to-day experiences?

Open Mind

Visiting somewhere you’re not familiar with already means you have an open mind. But exposing yourself to the unexpected when travelling often allows you to broaden your mind so much further. This includes with culture, religion, food and people. Having an open mind and being willing to dive head first into an experience will make travel experiences exceptional.

Stretch your Boundaries

One of the best things you can do when travelling is get out of your comfort zone. Pushing yourself mentally, physically and emotional often yields the most wonderful of rewards. Scott Mountain Holidays will stretch your boundaries through both tailor made and structured group trips. But not to worry. Your boundaries may be stretched, but with Andy as your guide you’ll be well looked after.

Mountains and Malts - whisky themed hiking

Hiking in the Highlands exploring the footsteps laid by smugglers of old

Embrace and interact

Creating a special travel experience means you need to be willing to embrace interacting with locals, nature and culture alike. This will provide you with a well-rounded experience of a place and the opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals from across the world. Completing a tour with Scot Mountain Holidays will also allow you the rare opportunity to really embrace Scotland.

Be present in the moment

Photos and videos are such a wonderful way to capture the very best moments of a trip. However travelling is also a wonderful opportunity to take a step away from technology. When travelling, you can be present in the moment rather than experience it through the lens of your phone. So make your travel experience extra special and take the opportunity to really appreciate the place you’re in and what you’re exposed to. Scot Mountain Holidays hiking and walking trips allow you the chance to do this with plenty of opportunities to whip out your camera.

Scot Mountain Holidays is all about the experiences. Participate in walking, hiking or mountain biking holidays in a stunning Scotland, and you’ll go home with travel memories and experiences that will stay with you forever.

Do you agree? Is there anything you would add about your own travel experiences? For us, what has always made the best memories are those experiences we have had involving local people and unusual active experiences. What has given you the most memorable travel experience?

10 Cycling events for 2016

In and around the Cairngorms National Park

The number of cycling events in the Cairngorms have multiplied exponentially over the past few years. The popularity of such events has also grown incredibly. Often for an event like the Loch Ness Etape, you have to book your place for the next year almost as soon as the event finishes.

cycling events in the Cairngorms

Road biking etapes and long-distance races are becoming very popular


Bike events are becoming more prolific. Seems like following the success of the British Olympic team, everyone is investing in lycra and heading out on a bike. Certainly here in the Cairngorms, it’s rare not to see at least one cyclist when you’re out and about. In fact, these days Aviemore almost seems to have a cycling culture. Every second shop hires bikes. Almost all the cars around seem to have bikes attached to them somehow. It’s a “healthy” activity supported by the government with investment in cycle paths, cycle lanes and cycle to work schemes.


Of course, you don’t have to travel all the way to the north of Scotland to participate in a cycling event. There are events happening all over the country. The advantage of coming up to the Cairngorms though is that you can enjoy your favourite sport in some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.

Details of the events

In no particular order, we’ve created a list of 10 cycling events we’ve managed to find online. Hopefully this list will make it easier for others to find cycling events and schedule them in to their calendar in future. It wasn’t easy to find all these details and sometimes event details are released quite late in the day. However, once the event has taken place a few times it tends to reoccur at approximately the same time each year. If you can’t make it this year, perhaps because you didn’t know early enough, take note for next year!



1. Rock and Road Festival

The Rock and Road festival is held in conjunction with the Glenlivet Mountain Bike trails. Details for 2016 are still limited but judging by the 2015 programme there is something for every cyclist to participate in:



Even if you don’t ride a bike, the party atmosphere could still be one to enjoy.



2. Etape Caledonia

Takes place out of Pitlochry. It is an 81 mile circuit on closed roads, climbing over 1000m along the route. It has attracted over 5000 riders per annum. 2016 will be the 10th anniversary. The event is a charity fundraiser for Marie Curie, but is a fixture in the calendars for many Scottish bike enthusiasts as it is very accessible from the central belt.

The Etape Caledonia is a popular event. Places disappear quickly. It is also a one day only event so does not necessariy mean that you need to book accommodation in the area, but you could use it as an excuse to book a few days off work afterwards and spend some time enjoying the area.


3. Ride Like a Grrl – September


Advance notice for Ride Like a Grrl, a women only mountain biking event which takes place at a slightly different venue in theCairngormsNational parkeach year. Event will run in September but details are still to be finalised.

Keep an eye on the Facebook page for details as they are being finalised now.

Cycling in the Cairngorms

On and off road cycling in the Cairngorms



4. King of the Mountains Sportive

A sportive for the fit and dedicated. There are 2 routes: 110 miles and 100km. The longer route has 3700m of ascent and passed through some of the most amazing scenery of whisky distilleries and the southern part of the Cairngorms National Park, including the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road, often closed in winter due to snow. Average finish time is 7 1/2 hours! A stunning route but not for the faint-hearted.

Starts and finishes at Aboyne.

For full details check the website


5. The Bikeathon

The annual Bikeathon event is a 25 mile family friendly cycling event that starts and finishes in Kingussie. Once again it’s a charity event raising funds for Chest, Heart and StrokeScotland. It’s designed as a fun day out for the family and definitely not a race. At the same time you’ll be able to enjoy the events taking place during Bikefest in Cycle Friendly Kingussie.

MTB family routes

Family mountain biking in the Cairngorms


6. Etape Royale

The Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale is the first and only 100 mile Closed Road Cycle Sportive inScotland. (Shorter routes are available as an introduction or for those not quite as dedicated.)


The Etape received TV fame when Mark Beaumont tested the entire 100mile route on a penny farthing. Amazing scenery and you’ll be jet propelled when passing through Moray’s whisky country on the fumes from the numerous distilleries you pass.


Put the date in your diary.


7 Cairn O’Mount Challenge

The two routes are very different: the shorter route is on the gentle minor roads of rural Angus with just one significant climb which is over the famous Cathertuns road and into Glen Lethnot. With a refreshment stop at the half way point, this is an ideal starter event for beginners or younger people or simply a change of scenery for more experienced riders.

The 80 mile route is a different proposition! Leaving from Edzell Muir we make our way to Fettercairn and prepare for the big climb up the steep side of the Cairn o’Mount. It’s the end of May so the snow gates shouldn’t (!) be closed.

Check out the website


8 Cream o the Croft Bike Festival

Not only is there an enduro mtb racing event but there’s a festival at the same time. From live music to beer tents and tasting, camping and mtb training. Racing at all levels from age 6 to competitive men plus a carnival atmosphere and loads of other events to keep the party atmosphere live and exciting.

For full details of the event go to the festival website 


9. International Mountain Biking Conference

The conference returns to Scotland in 2016, but will this time be taking place in the Highlands of Scotland. The events around the conference will probably focus on the area around Aviemore and Inverness. Full details have not yet been announced but it is hoped that the conference will form the climax of a week of active events. So far there has been little more than a press release from Developing Montain Biking in Scotland to set the date.

For more details read the article published in the Press and Journal


10. Mountain Bike Orienteering Challenge

Test out your biking and navigation skills, can you improve your times, be better than your friends and family. Try out the course designed by pupils from Kingussie High School. Drop in anytime. Bike hire available on site. Smart phone to download orienteering app

Full details here.


Please feel free to contact us if you are organising a biking event which takes place in or near the Cairngorms National Park, we will be happy to add it to our list of events which we hope will be the most complete list of cycling events in the area. We have chosen not to add race events and have concentrated instead on Sportives, charity challenges and family friendly events/festivals.

If you would like to extend your stay in the area or to explore more of the off-road tracks and trails around Aviemore and the surrounding villages, please feel free to contact Scot Mountain Holidays or stay at Fraoch Lodge for more input. We have developped some top facilities for cycle enthusiasts including a lockable bike store, an outside washdown area, a purpose-built drying room, good hot showers and the space to relax in front of an open fire. You can also join us for a meal in the evening if you wish. We produce good quality, home cooked food with local ingredients and are used to catering for healthy appetites.

For details of mountain biking packages with Scot Mountain Holidays.

Keep an eye on our website for details of a supported road biking package available from Fraoch Lodge, summer 2018.

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