February 11th my partner, Carol, and I headed to Craigendarroch for a few days cycling and walking. The car was loaded up, bike rack on and mountain bikes secured for the 100 mile drive with the plan to arrive in time for the Calcutta cup (enuff said we were brilliant).
Sunday we headed out on a route I found on Komoot via Cycle Highlands bike shop for a tube for Carol. We set off from the shop, crossing the Dee and heading west on the S Deeside road. We took the right fork at Bridge of Muick along by Dalliefour and Ardmeanach. The going was good, blue skies and dry with no wind.
We left tarmac and started climbing on good wide forest trails, as the incline reached 11% we both got off and started pushing. Pretty soon we were in the forest pushing again, to avoid fallen trees this time. After a break we continued following the trail looking forward to a slick, fast descent.
However it was not too be. After making our way through a bog the trail got more and more gnarly possibly not suitable for our old hardtails. We did manage to ride some of the descent as our confidence built. In my case just a bit too much! More hike a bike until we got to rideable trails still with the occasional fallen tree and washed away riverbank to negotiate.
We crossed back onto the Craigendarroch side of the Dee and made our way back to the lodge. All in all a tiring but good day on the bikes. 15.4 miles 1400ft of climbing in 4h 13m
The next day we decided to bike out to the Burn ‘o Vat and Loch Kinord trails. Nice easy day on the Deeside Way (NCN 195) and a segment we are familiar with from previous trips.
Once at the visitor centre we locked the bikes up and walked to the Burn ‘ o Vat and then out around Loch Kinord. A fascinating area steeped in history and wildlife. After the walk we headed back the same way. Bike:14 miles 100 feet climbing in 1:37:10 Walk 4.37 miles in 1:36:00
The third and final cycle of our stay was again on NCN 195 to the Spider on a Bicycle cafe in Aboyne.
An excellent cafe literally across the road from NCN 195 in Aboyne. After a stop for food and drink we unlocked the bikes from the sheffield stands outside the cafe and headed back to Ballater and the lodge the same way we had come. Bike 25.05 miles 656 feet of elevation in 2:54:00
A brilliant stay and three really good bike trips. Compare this year to last when there was 6 inches of snow!!