Mountain biking has always been a favourite sport in the Cairngorms. Come rain, shine, snow, hail and wind the die-hard fans will always venture out into the hills.
And for those just starting out in the sport and looking to hit the low level trails, the region also has kilometres of exciting and interesting paths to explore. In fact, here in the Cairngorms National Park, there’s 64km of off road routes and cycleways to choose from.
In short, the many miles and variety of routes are ideal for riders of a wide range of ages and fitness levels.
With that in mind, What’s On has been looking at an all new mountain bike centre that is due to open on the Glenlivet Estate this summer, so here’s the lowdown on this exhilarating new venture.
Where and what?
The stunning Carn Daimh forest, near Tomintoul on the Glenlivet Estate will be the home for this new mountain bike centre. In addition to purpose built trails there will also be a brand new visitor centre hub.
Having looked at the success of other centres such as Glyncorrwg in Afan Forest and the 7Stanes, the visitor centre will be built in a log cabin-style and will be set amongst the trees, with a cafe, car parking and toilets.
The centre will offer two trails, Carn Meilich Blue Graded 10 km and Carn Daimh Red Graded 15km, using a combination of existing forest tracks and a newly built single track.
The plan is for the new centre to open in Summer 2013. According to the team, the Red Run is ‘tight and twisty’ with lots of exciting technical challenges and features a breathtaking single track descent of over 700ft. The Blue Track can be summed up in one word ‘swoopy’, sort of like a bobsleigh run/roller coaster ride! It will be suitable for novices and families, however, if you try hard and you know the trail there are jump opportunities to be had, we are assured! The recent freezing weather has obviously not helped progress, but the resilient team has just kept going.
The Crown Estate is looking to appoint a business partner to manage the visitor centre and cafe, which is expected to attract thousands of outdoor sports enthusiasts to the Glenlivet Estate. There is also potential to create a retail space for a bike shop with hire facilities.
What’s there already?
There’s an existing network of six popular waymarked bike trails, ranging in length from
12km to 28km, that already attract bikers and, of course, The Lecht is on the doorstep too. These are aimed at those who have a moderate technical ability along tracks and farm roads. The new trails will complement these to attract the more enthusiastic and serious mountain bikers.
Who’s behind it?
Led by The Crown Estate, the initial feasibility study was carried out in 2009 by Russell Burton one of the UK’s best known trail designers. Since then, Paul Masson at Cycletherapy has taken over as trail builder/designer. He has incorporated the latest build techniques and has made adjustments to suit the current market. Paul has a credible history in trail design style and his influence can be seen at other key trail sites including Laggan, Golspie and Aonach Mhor.
There are several local guides who will offer support and advice and bike hire is available at a variety of shops, including Basecamp Bikes in Grantown and Mikes Bikes, Bothy Bikes and Cyclewild Scotland in Aviemore. In addition Glenmore Lodge run mountain bike courses too. For a full list of mountain Biking providers click here
Where to Stay?
There is a youth hostel in the village of Tomintoul and there is also a wide range of great value accommodation available in the local area. Detailed information available at www.visitcairngorms.com
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 to use 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.
*For safety reasons trails in dedicated mountain bike centres are specifically designated for bike use.
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