When I was a child we spent a week every summer holidays in our caravan near Aviemore. We’d hire canoes on Loch Insh and swim in the freezing water, visit the Landmark Centre, walk around Loch An Eilein, take a chairlift up Cairngorm Mountain and of course Santa Clause Land (RIP).
Ever since, the area around Aviemore, Rotheimurchus and Cairngorm Mountain has had a special place in my heart. The ancient pine forest and spectacular mountains never fail to take my breath away in snow or sun – and I have no stats to back this up but I’m convinced it has the best summer weather in the whole country.
Last weekend the forecast looked good so we packed the mountain bikes and tent and headed north for two days riding and a night at my childhood campsite, Dalraddy.
On saturday’s drive up the A9, the weather was grey and uninspiring, until the moment we crested Drumochter pass – when suddenly the sky turned perfectly blue and the temperature hit 20-21C (perfect riding weather). We quickly pitched the tent jumped on our bikes. We rode up to Rothiemurchus and round Loch An Eilein, taking the path link towards Loch Morlich, stopping for a picnic lunch then turning south for a trip up Glen Einich.
The path was interesting most of the route and dusty-dry and the scenery inspiring in the warm sunshine. The wind got up towards the head of the glen but even then it was more pleasant than chilly. The only slight downer on the day was when I fell off my bike on a ford crossing and really smashed my left kneecap. Thankfully no real damage was done except bad bruising but I was unable to get up for a good minute or two and sat in the river getting thoroughly soaked through – good job it was a warm day!
The descent back to the boundary between Rothiemurchus and Glenmore Forest was fun and pretty quick. We headed back to Loch An Eilein and continued round clockwise in the golden early evening sunshine taking a path towards Inshriach NNR which was really awesome! We popped out at Lagganlia near Feshiebridge and rode back towards Kincraig by a footpath through a sculpture park to the campsite where we enjoyed an evening bbq without any midges thanks to a warm breeze.
On Sunday we headed up to park by the edge of Loch Morlich for a ride along the great cycle path to Glenmore shop for provisions and then up by Glenmore Lodge to the beautiful Loch Uaine and through the Ryvoan pass to Nethy Bridge where we stopped for lunch before taking part of the Speyside Way through Abernethy Forest to the pass of An Sluggan back to Badaguish Outdoor Centre and then down to the car. Arrived back in Edinburgh feeling refreshed, relaxed and re-energised – success!
Saturday: 51km, 4hrs 50mins, 1350m ascent
Sunday: 38km, 4hrs, 1530m ascent