Mountain Biking and Cycling in Aviemore, Heart of the Scottish Highlands
Ross McEwen, December 22, 2010
The small Scottish town of Aviemore is nestled in the centre of the Cairngorms National Park, commanding a central location within the country’s wilder highland territory. It’s a veritable outdoors playground for weekend warriors and longer stays alike.
On two wheels
It is not without good reason that The Highlands are beginning to become considered as one of the world’s premier mountain biking locations. Trails now encompass the whole of The National Park, with a few points of particular interest.
A relatively unknown and untracked area is the former racecourse at Badaguish. Access to the estate can be gained on the left hand side on the way to the ski centre, approximately four miles outside of Aviemore. A labyrinth of trails snake their way through the trees at Badaguish, offering technical riding for intermediate to advanced mountain bikers only. Our full guide on Badaguish mountain biking is the essential starting point for research on how to play a visit.
Laggan Wolftrax Mountain Biking Trail Centre is fifteen miles south of Aviemore and is well signposted from the town of Newtonmore. With on-site bike hire and cafe, there are trails for all ages and abilities.
For road cyclists, Cairngorm National Park has a network of well-surfaced and quiet roads. Depending on the time of year, cycling to the Cairngorm Ski Centre provides a formidable challenge. If you make it to the base station on your bike, you get a free journey to the summit on the funicular railway. Cycling from Aviemore to Tomintoul is one of the most scenic trips in the Highlands.
For those looking to rent bikes, Mikes Bike’s has a good selection road and mountain bikes for hire. For something different, their mountain bike tandem is a great way to spend the day and smiles are guaranteed as you wind, with questionable control, through the trails around Aviemore.
The aforementioned mountain bike trails at Badaguish are equally challenging on foot. There are a number of great trails around Loch Morlich and the Lairighru path. With river crossings and the possibility of becoming quite lost in the dense forrest, being prepared is advised.
Cairngorm Mountain has enjoyed some great seasons over the past few years. The season can start as early as November, and end as late as May. Equipment is available to rent at a number of shops in Aviemore. There are a number of pomma and T-Bar lifts, as well as a funicular railway with a restaurant at the top. The skiing conditions can often be varied, and lift prices have risen in recent years. If you travel to Cairngorm without the expectation of Alpine-esque infrastructure and snow, then you’ll be left wanting, but it’s still a great way to spend the day.
Accommodation in Aviemore
For those travelling on a budget, the Aviemore Bunkhouse offers a central location and great value for money. Another option is to look to the south of town by one mile where the Edwardian country estate of Inshriach House can be found, complete with dark wood panelling and poster beds. (image below).
Getting to Aviemore
By car, Aviemore can be accessed from the A9 from the south, with Edinburgh two and half hours away and Glasgow closer to three. From the North, Inverness is only a scenic forty minute drive away. The train station to point tracks to is “Aviemore Station” – services are hourly and tickets can be purchased using thetrainline.com.
For general tourist information on Aviemore, head to visithighlands.com/aviemore.