Start/Finish: Choice of Aviemore, Boat of Garten, Nethy Bridge or Glenmore Lodge
Terrain: 85% easy gravel, 15% quiet road
Transport: train and citylink bus serve Aviemore.
|An Lochan Uaine - between Ryvoan Bothy and Glenmore Lodge, Cairngorms|
This route is so popular I feel like one of the last outdoors enthusiasts in Scotland to have done it! Lesley had cycled it many times before, a girl at work had also reccommended it, and during breakfast at our accommodation in Boat of Garten, our host went and suggested it too! Not that we were particularly in the mood for a "mission" after a late Friday evening in the Boat Hotel! I can now see why its such a favourite - rarely on road and passing through forest, mountains and moorland, yet mostly flat and easy going (just one or two brief parts that require care if on a bike). And there's some gems en-route such as "The Green Loch". In spite of all the endorsements there is only a short section of the route which felt "busy" this weekend. The views deeper into the Cairngorm wilderness really caught my imagination for future exploration.
|River Spey, near Nethy Bridge, Cairngorms behind|
|Low morning sun in Abernethy Forest|
I've mentioned before that September/October is my favourite time in Scotland. Okay it was baltic, but we were lucky to wake up to blue skies, still air, frost on the ground. Boat of Garten was silent, the air tinted with woodsmoke. We extracted Lesley's bike from the boot of the car and quickly got moving East out of the village via the bridge over the alluring River Spey.
|Start of "rights of way" to Braemar/Glenmore|
|Descending from Rynettin|
|An Lochan Uain|
|View from a rock, into the wild (Cairngorms)|
The rain was coming down as we approached Ryvoan bothy, so we took shelter there and were soon joined by many others. Lesley produced the hip-flask, obviously trying to slow me down! She didn't need to worry as it was mostly downhill from here - although a bit of care is needed when cycling the immediate descent S from the bothy. At the bottom of this hill is the beautiful An Lochan Uaine (Green Loch), so time for another stop.
The path was manicured gravel from here to Aviemore, and provided a nice alternative to the surprisingly busy Glenmore Lodge road. We broke the journey at Aviemore (Guinness and food) and eventually got moving again for the final 5 miles along the speyside way (cyclepath) back to Boat of Garten. The food was heavy in the belly but we weren't in a rush - this is another beautiful stretch of moorland with views over the cairngorms, just a shame the rain returned - very cold rain, arriving in squalls. That's why I don't have a photo of this bit, but here's a blog with a stunning view of it: