Scotland: mountain biking road trip

Simply put: every biker I know should do a Scotland mountain biking road trip!  Great bike parks, interspersed along the Whisky Trail with cute towns, lovely countryside, and castles!  A week spent mountain biking around Scotland is a week well spent!!!  And seriously, some of the best flow trails I’ve ridden 🙂

Aberdeen – Stonehaven – Pitfichie – Aberdeen – Scotly Hills – Aberdeen – Moray Monster trails – Ballindaloch – Glenlivet – Aviemore – Laggan Wolftrax – Newtonmore -Fort William – Edinborough – Inneleithen – Glentress – Glencoe – Ardgour – Fort William – Newtonmore – Laggan Wolftrax – Pitfichie – Aberdeen

Reflections:

  • Red trails are plenty difficult, black trails are next level!
  • The best biking is along the Whisky Trail, making a road bike trip a nice tour through distilleries too!
  • Glenlivet makes great whisky and great bike trails . . . I’ve never ridden trails that make such great use of gravity!
  • The whole idea of bike parks is fabulous – start with a coffee, end with a beer, great flowy riding between!
  • Glentress might be the best purpose-built trails I’ve ever ridden
  • I could easily spend a week in the Glentress/Innerleithen area – word is that there’s even a weekend shuttle at Innerleithen!

 

 

 

So, I ended up going to Scotland for a work-related training class in September of 2016 . . . It wasn’t exactly planned (booked the flight on a Friday and left the Sunday after!), and as it turned out, I was able to take the next week off, so I decided to throw my bike in as I had always equated Scotland and mountain biking. Typical Kellie Okonek, I hardly had a plan, but I figured I’d sort it when I arrived. And typical Kellie Okonek, I did.

The trip started out with some friends in Aberdeen and sightseeing at Stonehaven. Dunnottar Castle is pictured below – William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II have graced the Castle with their presence. Most famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of Scotland’, from destruction.

Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle
Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle
Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle
Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle – pretty cool to see the way the earth grew in along the castle walls!

The first place I checked out with my bike was Pitfichie (https://www.trailforks.com/region/pitfichie-12613/) and it was super fun to warm my legs up! Super fun trails, fun features, ride-arounds on everything big (good thing to have before you trust a place!), and lovely trees. Overall, a super fun ride!

Pitfichie Orange trail

I also came back to Pitfichie on my last day riding – this picture was from the top of the Red downhill . . . I’m not sure we ultimately found the right fire road up, and Trailforks came in handy . . . but all’s well that ends well and it’s a totally worthy place to ride!!

Pitfichie from the top of the Red downhill

The next day I headed out to Scolty Hills (https://www.trailforks.com/region/scolty/) – again, I loved the cool forest, old stone structures, and just being out exploring. The trails didn’t blow my mind, but were fun all the same. The town of Banchory just at the base is super idyllic and quintessential for an American tourist like me!

Scolty Hills
Scolty Hills
Scolty Hills, the village of Banchory below.

From there it was onto the Moray Monstertrails (https://www.trailforks.com/region/moray-monster-trails/?activitytype=1&z=12.7&lat=57.60261&lon=-3.08098) . . . I rode the red loop first, and then did laps on the Orange ‘bike park’ style trails at the end . . . super fun, and a great intro to Scottish purpose-built trails!

Moray Monster Trails
Moray Monster Trails
Moray Monster Trails, Orange ‘bike park’ style trails at the parking area were super fun to lap at the end of the day!
Moray Monster Trails, Orange ‘bike park’ style trails at the parking area were super fun to lap at the end of the day!

After riding, I went to the nearby town of Lossiemouth to see the ocean and enjoy another idyllic town and lovely view

Lossiemouth
Lossiemouth
Lossiemouth

And from there it was into the whisky territory of the River Spey . . . this water makes some of finest Scotch whisky in the land 🙂

River Spey near Abelour
River Spey near Abelour – I kept thinking it would be fun to come back and SUP this river . . . SUP-based distillery tour?!!?
River Spey near Abelour – seriously looked like a fairy tale could happen here . . .
River Spey near Abelour

I couldn’t find a place to stay in Abelour, so I ended up sleeping at Delnashaugh Hotel near the Ballindaloch Estate and the River Avon. The food was super good, the inn quaint, and the people nice – no complaints!

Of course, the next morning, I HAD to check out the Ballindaloch Estate because I couldn’t be that close to a castle and not go!

Ballindaloch – really cool entry!
Ballindaloch – am I in a fairy tale?!?!
Ballindaloch
Ballindaloch
Ballindaloch – as one imagines a caslte might be . . .
Ballindaloch

From there, it was on to Glenlivet . . . I was supposed to meet my riding partner at the trail, but suffice it to say I got lost and came to the distillery to make a call . . . so we ended up meeting here and starting our bike day with a tour and whisky tasting . . . what could go wrong?!!?

Glenlivet
Glenlivet – distillery art!
Glenlivet – thankfully my new local friend was kind enough to teach me the art of drinking Scotch whisky . . . suffice it to say this was all new for me!

And then it was time to hit the trails! This was my intro to the Scottish bike park at its finest . . . a cafe at a random parking lot in the middle of nowhere with lovely purpose-built trails . . . and beer at the end!

Bike Glenlivet (https://www.trailforks.com/region/bike-glenlivet/) trails really flow . . . maybe the best use of gravity of any trail I’ve ridden – there’s not a lot of vert but they really make it work for you!!!

Glenlivet
Glenlivet – again, not lots of vert but still super fun!
Glenlivet – I really need to learn to take better pics of bike trails . . . I only stop when it’s not that rad 🙂
Glenlivet

That night, I stayed in Aviemore . . . people called it ‘the Girdwood of Scotland’ but I’m not sure that’s a super accurate description. That said, it is a mountain town with lots of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, outdoor shops, and a lively mountain town vibe. I definitely recommend it as a stopover.

Nearby Aviemore is the Laggan Wolftrax (https://www.trailforks.com/region/laggan-wolftrax/) bike trails . . . again, coffee shop/beer shop in a parking lot in the middle of nowhwere with rad bike trails. I’m getting used to this concept already!!! These trails are super fun and easy to do long laps that combine red, black, and orange trails . . . I really enjoyed this place . . . so much that I came back a second time on my way back to Aberdeen from Fort William at the end of the trip!

Laggan Wolftrax
Laggan Wolftrax
Laggan Wolftrax
Laggan Wolftrax
Laggan Wolftrax
Edinborough
Edinborough
Edinborough
Edinborough
Edinborough
Innerleithen
Innerleithen
Glentress
Glentress
Glentress
Glentress
Abbotsford Lodge
Glencoe
Glencoe
Glencoe
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe
Glencoe
Glencoe
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe red trail
Glencoe
Corran ferry
Corran ferry
Corran ferry
Ardgour

 

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