Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

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Mike777
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Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby Mike777 » 14 Feb 2017, 1:29pm

Hello all

I would like to do this route in May.

http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/cairngorms-loop/

Just wondered if anyone has done it and what bike they used.

I would like to use a touring bike with panniers and tent but was a little concerned about the paths.

Would appreciate any advice or comments

Thanks for your time

Regards

Mike

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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby rualexander » 14 Feb 2017, 3:13pm

I've done bits of it a long time ago.
In theory you could do it with a touring bike and panniers but you would have to do a lot of walking.
Anything marked on the OS map as a footpath would almost certainly have to be mostly walked.
Panniers can be awkward on narrow paths both when riding and walking so maybe bikepacking gear would make it a bit easier.
The best bike for this sort of trip would probably be a fat bike these days.

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andrew_s
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby andrew_s » 15 Feb 2017, 10:51pm

I did the Tomintoul - Braemar - Glen Feshie part in 2012, closing the loop on alternative routes, using a Singular Peregrine with Camper Longflap & drybag.

Tomintoul to Linn of Dee and on to about 3 miles past the junction down towards Glen Tilt (Geldie Lodge) is OK on a touring bike, apart from a short section past Loch Builg, where you may have to walk short sections.
After Geldie Lodge, it's nearly trackless moorland (i.e. just enough of a path to see where you're meant to be going) for about 6 miles before you reach the Glen Feshie track. I walked this section - it was too soft for the 700x35 tyres I was using, and is probably best walked on anything less than a fatbike, from the point of view of not churning up the path/moorland. I followed the gravel road on the left side of the Feshie rather than get into following woodland footpaths, which involved fording the river a couple of times. The bridge half way down the glen at Carnachuin wasn't usable in 2012 - I don't know whether it's been rebuilt since. (google implies that it hasn't, and that the tracks on the right bank (east) have been improved by way of compensation).
If you go from Feshiebridge towards Loch Morlich, the last mile or so before reaching the Loch an Eilein perimeter track is singletrack and may give problems with panniers. The rest is all good track, with the only awkwardness being the Cairngorm club footbridge.

Image
River Feshie ford

Image
Camp in Glen Builg, just past Linn of Avon

Image
the bike (elsewhere)

The Gaick (Glen Tromie) is decent track except for a bit less than a mile between Sronphadruig Lodge and the north end of Loch an Duin. Probably rideable on an MTB, but not with panniers.

The section on the northern loop between Dorback Lodge and Bridge of Avon is decent track except for about half a mile in Glen Brown, where you walk through the stream meanders in the valley bottom, then push up a steep hillside to join the forestry track. The push up is marked as a track on the map, but isn't easy to see on the ground.

I've been up Glen Tilt as far as the end of the track about 300 m before the Falls of Tarf. After that it's singletrack/reasonable footpath as far as Bynack Lodge. I've not been over this section so I don't know how much is rideable, but I'd plan on allowing time to walk it if necessary.

I've never been there, but I don't think I'd try taking a loaded bike over the central north/south link (Ryvoan - Bynack - Fords of Avon - Glen Derry). Maybe an MTB & backpack

Many/most of the routes will involve the crossing of fords that are dangerous or impassable in high water. Take account of general water levels, forecast rain, or possible snowmelt before committing yourself.
Last edited by andrew_s on 6 Nov 2017, 7:34pm, edited 1 time in total.

irc
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby irc » 15 Feb 2017, 11:56pm

Andrew has covered it pretty well. A few pics

Loch An Duin in the Gaick Pass

throughthegap.jpg
Loch an Duin


Two pics from the head of Glen Tilt. There is so much rideable singletrack that it would be a shame to do it on a bike with too big a load.

singletrack_2__nearing_the_head_of_glen_tilt.jpg



singletrack3.jpg


From the rideability view I think a clockwise circuit is better as the Glen Tilt section has a lot of gentle downhill paths which
would be harder to ride uphill.

There is an alternate to the Gaick Pass not marked on the map in the OP. Going up Glen Bruar, then over the Minigaig Pass to the head of the pass. Thereafter go to the top of the marked track going down to the head of Glen Feshie.

Starting the descent into Glen Feshie

descent9.jpg

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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 16 Feb 2017, 12:58am

Hi,
Looks bloody fantastic 8)
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andrew_s
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby andrew_s » 18 Feb 2017, 9:30pm

some more from my bucket, of the Gaick

Image
the Allt Gharbh Ghaig ford just after Gaick Lodge

Image
half a mile after Loch Bhrodainn

Image
Loch an Duin

Image
Edendon Water ford 1.
The path dumps you here, and there's a track/road opposite, so we crossed

Image
Unfortunately, the track just crossed back. Sronphadruig lodge is by the trees.
In retrospect, we should have kept left through the heather.
Last edited by andrew_s on 6 Nov 2017, 7:30pm, edited 1 time in total.

hamish
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby hamish » 19 Feb 2017, 10:56am

I have done it on a fat bike; which was just about perfect for the ride. Friends did it on assorted hardtails but the fatbike was easier and faster. It's a great route. You need to watch your weather as some river crossings get to deep to pass after heavy rain. We had a long detour as a result on our last day.

hamish
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby hamish » 19 Feb 2017, 12:01pm

Sorry... To answer your question though.... It depends on your touring bike I guess. IIt is hard to remember the exact surfaces when riding on a fat bike as they kind of roll over anything. But if I remember correctly, much of the route we did would be fine on a touring bike with wide tyres and strong rims. Some would be slow going but possible and some significant sections would need pushing. I'd avoid the central link via fords of Avon as mentioned previously.

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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby mattsccm » 19 Feb 2017, 5:11pm

Did a chunck last year. Details I remember are after Tomintoul.
Starts easy but get rougher. I would have riddren it on my CX bike but had a MTB with front suss.
After Breamar its road rthen gradually roughening gravel. MTB fine but some bits were deep and loose.
As said the long strrch from Geldie is a push with bits of riding although it was easirrvjust to walk.
The river crossings in Feshie could be deep. There is a"bad step" mentioned. You bypass this through the river.
The bridge is still missing as mentioned. The alternative tracks up thee bank can be confusing but nice . The main one crosses a joining river and that wasva 100 yard carry with a two person lower and lift to cross. Nice though but we had hot sun in May. Rain would be nasty.
Plenty out there. Search " tour of the Cairngorm's"

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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby mnichols » 19 Feb 2017, 5:57pm

hamish wrote:I have done it on a fat bike; which was just about perfect for the ride


Is it really faster than a Hardtail, or are you faster than the people that were riding the Hardtail?

What are they like on technical sections like boulder fields?

What are they like on the roads in-between the offroad sections?

hamish
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby hamish » 19 Feb 2017, 8:23pm

The fatbike is slower than hardtails on the road sections and maybe on hard smooth tracks. As soon as the track gets at all stoney it breaks even with a 26er hardtail. On rubbley, rocky, soft, peaty stuff it's faster. On big rocks and boulders it will keep you riding where the hardtails have to stop. It kind of flatters your riding skill on slow technical terrain. It also leaves you less beaten up after a long day off-road compared to say a rigid 29er. It rolls and rolls down hill and you can let it roll because it is less bothered by stones and stuff.

I recon a 29+ would be faster than full fat - but for rough track touring and beyond a fat bike is hard to beat.

Mike777
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby Mike777 » 20 Feb 2017, 1:59pm

Thanks all for your various replies.

Where people have mentioned there is a need to push are we talking the odd couple of miles or are we talking longer than this ?

Appreciate all the advice.

Regards

Mike

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Sweep
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby Sweep » 21 Feb 2017, 7:24am

Looks wonderful. Can't see me getting into bike packing but tempted to try some of this as a test of my new 26in wheeled ridgeback expedition. Should be a good test.

Fair to assume that bike traffic is pretty low on this route?

Best time of year?

Assume you can free camp anywhere subject only to "leave no trace"?

Ps-

Mike -thanks for the iriginal post and link to that excellent site - some great looking routes on there. Some more rideable maybe for me. Love the look of the abruzzo route, an area i have long been interested in,

Back to scotland ....
Sweep

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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 21 Feb 2017, 1:44pm

Hi,
hamish wrote:The fatbike is slower than hardtails on the road sections and maybe on hard smooth tracks. As soon as the track gets at all stoney it breaks even with a 26er hardtail. On rubbley, rocky, soft, peaty stuff it's faster. On big rocks and boulders it will keep you riding where the hardtails have to stop. It kind of flatters your riding skill on slow technical terrain. It also leaves you less beaten up after a long day off-road compared to say a rigid 29er. It rolls and rolls down hill and you can let it roll because it is less bothered by stones and stuff.

I recon a 29+ would be faster than full fat - but for rough track touring and beyond a fat bike is hard to beat.

I reckon you over estimate the friction of fat bike tyres.

It rolls down hill faster because of weight, but this does not balance the up hill struggle?
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andrew_s
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Re: Scotland Cairngorms Loop 181 miles : bike ?

Postby andrew_s » 21 Feb 2017, 5:11pm

Mike777 wrote:Where people have mentioned there is a need to push are we talking the odd couple of miles or are we talking longer than this ?

It will depend on bike, tyres, luggage and skill, but the longer stretches of possible/probable walking I can think of are...
a) Geldie Lodge to Glen Feshie - 6 miles, probably walking, ~ 2 mph
b) Bynack Lodge to Glen Tilt - 4.5 miles
c) Gaick (Loch an Duin - 1.5 miles
d) Ryvoan to Bynack - about a mile (good track, but steep)
e) Bynack to Derry Lodge via Fords of Avon and Lairig an Laoigh - 9 miles of reasonable footpath, mostly - depends on you & bike whether you ride or not
f) Between Forest Lodge and Dorback Lodge - 1.5 - 2 miles