1 ABERDEENSHIRE, SCOTLAND
Think of great Scottish riding and you’ll probably conjure up craggy peaks on the Isle of Skye, the white stone singletrack of Torridon, or the wild tracks around the Tweed Valley. It’s no surprise honeypots like this draw riders from across the globe, but has it been at the expense of the rest of Scotland? Have we been missing the trails for the trees?
Undoubtedly yes, argues Scottish Cycling’s Anna Riddell, who reckons we should really turn our attention to the east. “Aberdeenshire is one of the hottest emerging destinations that perhaps has seen less traffic than the iconic Tweed Valley and Fort William destinations,” she says.
On paper Aberdeenshire certainly looks good – it’s one of the most mountainous parts of Scotland, let alone the UK, dipping right into the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. And it’s also rich in forested, hilly and mountainous woodland, the kind of terrain where mountain bike trails flourish. A bit like the Tweed Valley then.
“In some ways it is similar in that they both have an abundance of ‘enduro’ type trails but the landscape, soil type and trail character are very different,” Will Clarke from Scottish Cycling says.
The Cairngorms arguably go one better though. Formed from grippy granite, the bedrock lets the trails drain well and it retains your traction even when wet. There’s less rainfall in the east of Scotland, Anna tells me, as the storms tend to slide over the western parts and dump their rain there. “It’s significantly drier, so you can have a reasonable chance the trails aren’t going to be too boggy, whenever you come,” she says. “There are great trails here and it’s good to discover new destinations and a fresh place to ride.” The trail network in Aberdeenshire is truly vast, with over 1,500 trails spread throughout the region offering more than 13,000m of descending through massively varied terrain and scenery. You’ll find the bulk of the best riding in the National Park, centred around towns like Braemar, Ballater, Banchory and Aboyne, but there are trails outside too.
“Most of the towns have a trail network supported by great specialist bike shops and bike-friendly local businesses,” Will says.
The riding is technical singletrack – don’t think jumps, think natural woodland trails, rock slabs and rolls, steep and rooty tracks, in ancient woodland and deciduous forests.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
MIDSOMMAR NIGHT'S DREAM
Åre in northern Sweden is Scandinavia's mountain biking hub. With one of the largest bike parks in Europe, adventurous trail riding and vibrant bike culture, this little mountain town is a bike destination to put on your bucket list
Thanks to Tawd Valley MTB Trails there’s now a lot more to Lancashire’s Skelmersdale than Sixties’ urban sprawl
THANK YOU, MOUNTAIN BIKING
Mountain biking sometimes plays rough, but ultimately it gives us more than it takes, moulding us into skilful, resourceful, and ultimately happy people… albeit with some scars to back up the memories
HIGH-PIVOT IDLER ENDURO BIKES RADICAL RIPPERS
DH racers have been getting busy on idler bikes for years but does the design translate to enduro? We test two machines from Forbidden and GT
STEPPING IT UP
Spring is here and conditions are (hopefully) getting drier; time to take your riding to the next level by tackling more technical trails
The South Lakes offers real mountains, trails that range from mellow to hairy, Instagram-friendly views, and pubs and tea shops galore. What more do you want?
SWINGING A LEG OVER WHAT'S HOT THIS MONTH
5 BIKES YOU'VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF
Global supply chains may be struggling but there are plenty of smaller brands striving to get their products onto the trails. Here are five upstarts with new models in the works
PART 6: LOWER BACK
If lower back pain is the bane of your life, strength training could be the antidote
We've come a long way from the boneshakers of the '80s and the wacky creations of the '90s; Guy Kestevan charts the last 25 years of mountain bike tech. "I were right about that saddle though"
OUTLANDISH ‘OUTLANDER SWEATSHOP!
Weary cast & crew complain they're dead tired & freezing their butts off making hit show
Gateway to Scotland
Engage business contacts with culinary and cultural adventures in Glasgow.
QUEEN, 95, DERAILS ANDREW SEX PROBE
Calls off law dogs investigating claim favorite son raped Epstein slave, 17
LAND OF THE PICTS
New excavations reveal the truth behind the legend of these fearsome northern warriors
CRUSADER KINKS PART I
Spreading the love throughout Paradox’s medieval soap opera, Crusader Kings III
A SPONTANEOUS CRUISE ALONG SCOTLAND’S WILD WEST COAST PROVED TO BE A VOYAGE OF SURPRISES FOR PHIL JOHNSON
A Wee Dram
There’s more to love about Scotland’s favorite libation once you discover the magic
Taking Scotland in Stride
A walk through the Highlands and Borders is the best way to touch this country’s history and nature
Scotland Makes Periods Less Painful
The country is the first in the world to offer free, universal access to sanitary products
GEOLOGY 101 Columnar Basalt
A distinctive volcanic structure found throughout the world has been given fanciful names: “Organ Pipes” in Namibia and Victoria, Australia; “Kilt Rock” and “Samson’s Ribs” in Scotland; “Giant’s Causeway” in Northern Ireland; “Thunderstruck Rocks” in Romania; “Devils Tower” in Wyoming and “Paul Bunyan’s Woodpile” in Utah, USA; the “Baigong Pipes” in China; and the “Cliff of Stone Plates” in Vietnam. High-resolution satellite images have even shown similar as-yet-unnamed structures on Mars.