We advise arriving in Inverness the day before the tour start date to make sure any flight or luggage delays don’t spoil your adventure.
Your guide will meet you in Inverness the following morning, and we have a handy guide of how to spend 24 hours in Inverness.
Your guide will meet you in Inverness (exact pick-up details will be specified two weeks prior to your trip) and we’ll head to H+I Adventures HQ to build and tune bikes and go through our welcome briefing over coffee and cake. We’ll start as we mean to go on!
Once everyone is happy with their bikes we’ll make our way south to Aviemore for our first ride of your mountain bike tour Cairngorms. We’ll warm up our legs riding through the forests of Rothiemurchus, described by acclaimed naturalist Sir David Attenborough as “One of the glories of wild Scotland”.
The Rothiemurchus Estate is home to a great diversity of eco-systems and wildlife habitat, as well as some excellent singletrack. This first ride will introduce you to Highland singletrack – nothing too technical, just really enjoyable trails to get you in the mood. We will have a chance to look at some skills to set you up for the week ahead.
You’ll be staying in a lovely, welcoming guest house in Aviemore, the adventure capital of the Highlands, and after sampling some beers from the local brewery we’ll walk just a few of minutes to one of our local favourites by the riverside for dinner.
Setting off from our accommodation, we head into the Cairngorms proper, and one of the largest surviving areas of ancient Caledonian pine forest in Europe. Covering an area of over 30 square kilometres, this forest is steeped in history and folklore.
Weaving our way through 300-year-old Scots pine, our ride starts to head off-the-beaten-track into the lesser-known singletrack that flows through the forest at the foot of the iconic northern corries of the Cairngorm massif.
We’ll pop out in the small hamlet of Glenmore where we’ll have some lunch and refuel, then it’s time to get back in the saddle. After a short climb we will descend a great piece of singletrack built for the national cross country championships, which has been left to change over time into the natural, fast and flowing trail it is today.
Heading up and over the Rocky Road we get views looking across the Eastern Cairngorms and, with one more flowing descent, we spin back to Aviemore, passing Highland cattle and red deer, making it back in time for some of the finer tastes of this area at a fantastic, family run restaurant in a nearby village.
One of the most beautiful, dramatic and lesser-travelled areas of the Cairngorms is Glen Feshie. This wide open glen could easily be mistaken for a set from Jurassic Park and this is where we start to get a real taste of wilderness.
Our ride starts with a short transfer into lush forest, home to endangered animals from Capercaillie to Pine Marten, which slowly opens up towards the River Feshie.
Skirting along the river on double track and singletrack we ride further into the glen itself, and then the adventure really starts! Be prepared for wet feet as we cross the river and head up above the old hunting lodges.
We arrive at a gorgeous piece of singletrack flowing through the high forest and into the moorland. Let off the brakes before the final sweeping corners below, and if you can manage to look up from the trail the view across the moors is often littered with herds of wild deer.
Still buzzing from the descent we start to work our way across to the hillside opposite, passing old crofts and abandoned black houses left from the Highland Clearances.
Back on singletrack we climb a short but punchy trail to the top of the hillside for a short breath catcher. From here is the cherry on top of the icing of today’s ride! Below is a local favourite – super-fast and flowy it’s impossible not to have fun on the well earned last descent.
It’s been a big ride today, but we don’t have far to go to our cosy dinner spot for this evening. It’s a different kind of place – but the chef uses only local ingredients, and combined with great chef skills, we know you won’t go hungry! Weather permitting, we can sit outside with a cold drink while we enjoy our wonderful Scottish fare.
Today we head back into the depths of Glen Feshie. This time we’ll aim high, heading up onto the the dramatic mountain plateau from where we will see yesterday’s ride. After a solid climb, we will be firmly in the middle of the glacial landscape.
Here we’ll have a break to take in the incredible landscape around us, before setting off on our 9km descent! Our trail begins by tracing a ridge line with views down into hidden valleys and lochs left over from the ice age, then as we gain momentum the trail plummets from the mountain top and begins to weave between the heather and ancient pines, before finishing on pristine singletrack leading all the way back to the valley floor.
We’ll have a quick freshen up back at the accommodation before heading a local market town a short drive away to great pub. Always filled with locals, you know that’s a good sign! (The local gin and whisky menu is pretty good too!)
Today it’s time to see a different face of the Cairngorms. We’ll head towards the Eastern side of Cairngorm (1.5 hour drive) to Royal Deeside, home to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Highland residence. We’ll stop at the village of Ballater, which is steeped in history and surrounded by some of the best riding in the Cairngorms.
Crossing the River Dee, famous for its spring water and believed to have healing properties, we’ll begin the long climb up and out of the village. Gaining height quickly we’ll be treated to views over Lochnagar, made famous by the poet Lord Byron, and almost all the way out to the North Sea.
We’ll have a rest in a shepherd’s hut to re-fuel and take some photos, then follow singletrack all the way along the ridge high above Ballater. Our goal is a phenomenal trail known as “Heartbreak Ridge”. This seemingly endless trail dances across the moors before turning into grippy slab rolls and rocky corners, then drops into the trees and opens up into a fast swooping trail across the vibrant green blanket of moss.
It’s been a long, but rewarding day, and we’ll head into Ballater town for a well-earned meal at a very photo-worthy restaurant, before driving back to Aviemore for a hot shower and a good night’s rest!
After a few days riding in the shadow of Cairngorm Mountain, it’s time to start getting high up on it.
Riding straight from our accommodation along the Alt Mòr Burn (a mountain stream), we slowly climb from dense Caledonian pine forest, up onto the open mountain – a mix of beautiful mountain scape and dramatic weather, this is Britain’s only Arctic environment.
If we’re lucky we will pass the wild reindeer herd that lives on Cairngorm. Two bulls and five cows were brought to the Cairngorms by Mikel Utsi in 1952, and the unique climate provided an ideal environment for them. So much so that the herd is now over 150 strong!
From here we’ll head up and through Cairngorm Ski Resort, before traversing over a ridge line to find a historic and hidden path, leading us to the base of the imposing Northern Corries.
From this mountain bowl, a technical and challenging trail weaves its way back to the base of our climb. You’ll use all the skills that you’ve picked up through the week to navigate and flow through the boulders, mountain streams and open rocky trail, all with a view spanning a seemingly never-ending vista of ancient forest and mountains.
It’s been a big day today, so our dinner spot is just a 5 minute walk from our guest house, and we can tuck in to some great food and enjoy a beer or two from the local brewery.
After the now infamous Scottish breakfast, we have one more trail we’ve been keeping up our sleeves. Pedalling up into the pine forest to just above tree line, from our view point we’ll have the week’s adventure laid out before us.
After looking over many of the areas our wheels have passed through during the week, we open the suspension and drop saddles one last time. This trail is all about maximum fun, darting between the trees and floating over roots and mini rock gardens.
This trail is crowned as one of the best pieces of singletrack in the area, and as the corners and pines flash by, it’s impossible to finish without a smile.
It’s the perfect way to wrap up our Cairngorms Adventure before heading back to Inverness and sadly packing bikes away.
We’ll have our final celebratory meal in our favourite restaurant on the banks of the River Ness, and toast an incredible week on our mountain bike tour Cairngorms, in Scotland.
Sadly this is the end of your Cairngorms Scotland adventure, and we will say our farewells after an unforgettable time biking in the Highlands.
We can take you back to Inverness airport/ train station at around 10am. If your travel plans differ greatly from this, we will help you to organise a taxi to suit.