Purple (cairngorm) loop

Heather season by lucile verrot on 500px.com

Looking North over Loch Builg. Heather Season by Lucile Verrot on 500px

With an optimistic forecast and a free weekend, we set off on a long-anticipated loop around the Cairngorms by MTB. Being relatively new to bikepacking, I figured it would be a good trip without too much ascent. Despite also appearing relatively easy distance-wise, a few wrong turns and some tracks eroded into the the river made for a great wee adventure. Glen Feshie scenery more than made up for being swamped by midges. The path heading back over to Braemar on the anti-clockwise loop was almost unusable in places, so with some river crossings we made it back in good time on Sunday.

Lower on the mountain, on all slopes and shoulders and ridges and on the moors below, the characteristic growth is heather. And this too is integral to the mountain… But it is the August-blooming ling that covers the hills with amethyst. Now they look gracious and benign. For many many miles there is nothing but this soft radiance. Walk over it in a hot sun, preferably not on a path (‘I like the unpath best,’ one of my small friends said when her father had called her to heel), and the scent rises in a heady cloud. Just as one walks on a hot day surrounded by one’s own aura of flies, so one walks surrounded by one’s own aura of heather scent

  • – Nan Shepherd’s THE LIVING MOUNTAIN

Since that trip I have bought a mosquito head net and packed my compass with cycling gear – never again will I be in a Scottish bog using an iPhone as a compass in air thick with midges!

OS Map Cairngorm Loop

Route on OSMaps


Surly on the rocks
My Surly LHT showing off it’s bare racks and glimmeringly dull “cakipants” coated steel. This was on a tour around Shetland during a surprisingly good-weathered weekend north.

North over Glenkindie

bikepacking - north east views