Cairngorms Big Mountain Magic MTB Tour

This Cairngorms Big Mountain Magic MTB tour explores the very best mountain bike trails in the Cairngorms national park, they are truly some of the best in the World. Come and explore them on this 4 day ride, with gritty granite singletrack and sublime big mountain scenery, wildlife and wild landscapes. The Cairngorms hosts mile after mile of tight, twisty singletrack hewn into steep granite hillsides that descent into deep, dark lochs.

Why ride the Cairngorms Big Mountain Magic MTB Tour with Tom Hutton MTB?

Riding in the Cairngorms National Park is a unique experience. From our base in Aviemore, the centre for mountaineering in Scotland, the trails have access to lochs, ancients pine forests and the largest expanse of high mountain wilderness in the UK. It is bucket list stuff!

Cairngorms MTB Tour Highlights

  • Big days out in big mountains including the UK’s second highest peak
  • Monster climbs and monumental alpine style descents
  • From caledonian forest to granite mountains the landscape is unique
  • Link with the London sleeper train for minimum time off work

What’s included?

  • Accommodation – 3 Nights Alpine lodge B/B style accommodation in Twin rooms
  • Meals – Hearty, cooked breakfasts with local ingredients and Deli packed lunches
  • Travel – All travel whilst in Scotland is in our own custom 9-seat VW Transporter swamper minibus with driver and bike trailer
  • All guiding –  4 Days of guided riding in the heart of the Cairngorms national park. 2 qualified guides giving a 4 – 1 client to guide ratio
  • Safety Equipment – First aid kits and emergency shelters carried by our guides alongside your personal equipment packs
  • Financial failure insurance – Ensuring your money is 100% protected from the second we receive it until we have delivered your trip of a lifetime.

(Everything but evening meals, beer & spares!)

Price per person: £729

Dates Available 2022

  • 08-11th September

Book now

“Fantastic company. Been with Tom Hutton MTB Guiding for three trips now and am already planning the next one. Great trails and great coaching. Book now!” Stu Barker, Bristol”

Photos by Martin Kennedy

Is this trip for me

This is one of the tougher trips we run, suitable for strong intermediates / advanced or more experienced riders. Natural trails of a black grading are unlikely to phase you and you’re happy on even tougher natural terrain. Everyone can walk certain sections and this is just fine. It’s an adventure!

Fitness:

You’re comfortable out all day at a reasonable pace, and will even manage a few real epics if you pace yourself. There’ll be some big ups (including a fair bit of hike-a-bike) and some big technical downs. Some long days and Scottish weather might required a sense of humour at times but our expert guides will help with that. The trip involves riding 4 days back to back (but voluntary rest days are possible if needed).

Technical:

You are more than happy on the Red trails and you’ll tackle Black section with confidence even across loose, rocky, rooty and wet terrain – You might well walk some sections

If you are at all concerned about whether the trip is right for you, please call us on 01173751360. We will be more than happy to advise.

Sample Itinerary and Trip Notes

The Cairngorms mountain range contains more ground above 1000m than any other massif in Britain. It’s highest peak, Ben Macdui, at 1,309m, is not just the UK’s second highest mountain but it’s also by far the highest you can sensibly ride and an ascent and descent is an absolute must-do. But there’s more to this amazing area than just high mountains. The soaring granite peaks are skirted on all sides by ancient caledonian pine forests, and these conceal a real mixture of awesome trails. The scenery is nothing short of breathtaking and the riding’s even better.

What to expect

Getting ready for 4 days of mountain biking in fairly full-on, remote locations can be a major task. With 7 riders (plus 2 guides!), all with different levels of fitness and ability, there’s plenty of room for misunderstanding. These notes will help everybody know what to expect from the trip and what to bring. If there’s anything else you need to know, or want to check, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Cairngorm Classic 35km, 700m elevation gain

Day 1: Rothiemurchus, Badaguish and Northern Corries

We’ll explore trails in ancient Caledonian Forest and take our first view of the Northern Corries of the high Cairngorms. Riding directly from the guesthouse bike store, we’ll link trails, forest tracks, and even a café stop, to climb up to the Cairngorm Mountain Ski Station. At the top, we’ll pause to take in the views over Speyside’s Whisky Country and the Western Highlands . The descent, all the way back to the glen floor, is an introduction to the boulder strewn, granite trails typical of the area. Back at the loch, we’ll stop for a drink and, maybe, a swim.

First night in Aviemore, dinner in La Taverna Italian Restaurant

 Day 2: Ben Alder  555km, 1100m

Starting from Dalwhinnie, the highest Whisky distillery in Scotland, we’ll head out in to wild country in one of the remotest areas of the UK. This is the domain of stags, golden eagles and cosy bothies. We’ll pass by lochs, hunting lodges and under crags on perfectly manicured single track. The highland bothies on this route are perfect spots to take a breath and enjoy the landscape. Lunch, at our high point for the day, has a spectacular view to the southwest over Loch Ossian to Ben Nevis in the distance. The smooth, snaking single track flows on and on through classic highland Landscape.

Second night in Aviemore, dinner at the Winking Owl pub

Day 3: Royal Deeside, Ballater and Heart Break Ridge 30km, 1000m

Starting from Ballater, a small town in Aberdeenshire making a name for itself as an Mountain Bike centre, we’ll make a circuit of the classic trails in the area. And we’re back on the granite, with grippy slabs a specialty in this area.  We’ll head down the River Dee, through Scots Pine forests, for a warm-up on rolling granite trails.  We’ll cross the Dee, at a perfect swimming spot, and make a steady climb to a lunch stop at a deerstalkers hut, with a view over the Queen’s Balmoral Estate. With a rapid change of pace, we’ll hit the trail, taking on the chutes, slabs and drops of a classic Scottish trail –  Heartbreak Ridge.

Third night in Aviemore, dinner at the Cairngorm Hotel

Day 4:  Sgor Gaoith  33km 1200m

We’ll finish the week with a ride to the top of a munro with views over Ben Macdui, the UK’s second highest peak, and the whole Cairngorm massif. The ride starts with a steady pedal through the picturesque Glen Feshie Estate, which is a centre for re-wilding of the landscape in this area. A long, steady climb gives access to a ridge-line high above the lochs and forests from Day 1. There is some excellent steep, loose, riding on the rolling ridge, to reach our high point and lunch stop. From there we have a choice of wild descents, some with classic mountain switchbacks, from 1100m elevation to the forest below, .

What’s included?

  • Accommodation – 3 Nights Alpine lodge B/B style accommodation in Twin rooms
  • Meals – Hearty, cooked breakfasts with local ingredients and Deli packed lunches
  • Travel – All travel whilst in Scotland is in our own custom 9-seat VW Transporter swamper minibus with driver and bike trailer
  • All guiding –  4 Days of guided riding in the heart of the Cairngorms national park. 2 qualified guides giving a 4 – 1 client to guide ratio
  • Safety Equipment – First aid kits and emergency shelters carried by our guides alongside your personal equipment packs
  • Financial failure insurance – Ensuring your money is 100% protected from the second we receive it until we have delivered your trip of a lifetime.

(Everything but evening meals, beer & spares!)

It’s quite likely that no 2 days on this trip will be the same. But we can try…

We’ll have breakfast together at a time agreed the previous evening – usually quite early. Sorry, I know it’s a holiday but we have a lot to cram in. This usually includes a short final briefing and a check on how everybody’s feeling. After breakfast we’ll load the bikes onto the trailer and hop on the minibus. Please be pretty much ready to ride at this stage so there’s no major faffing when we’re dropped off.

Remember to bring a small ‘hand luggage’ bag with you with dry clothes and shoes for when we’ve finished riding. On day 4 when we’re leaving accommodation, we’ll obviously have to pack all our stuff into the minibus again. In the evenings, we’ll meet for a pre-dinner drink and chat about the plans for the next day. Armed with the latest weather forecast and a few maps we’ll plan a ride that suits everybody. We’ll also discuss what we need to carry.

Riding skills and fitness

Many people ask us about the riding and their skills and fitness. It’s a hard one to answer as difficulty is so subjective and we can have up to 7 different riders, all with different fitness levels and technical abilities.

Riding skills

Firstly, the riding isn’t as tough as it sounds. We’ve chosen routes that give a real Scottish flavour but still make for an enjoyable holiday.

There will however, be some big ups (including a fair bit of pushing for sure), some long days (possibly 6-8 hours or more) and some technical downs (some of which probably everybody will walk a few metres). As long as you can keep smiling when you’re tired and pushing your bike then you’ll be fine.

In terms of riding ability, this trip won’t suit anyone who isn’t happy riding red grade trails in typical UK trail centres (please ask us if you would like more detail).

Fitness

It’s much more about stamina than speed or strength. There are some long days and we won’t be racing anywhere. On the bigger days, we’ll ride at a relaxed pace that can be kept up all day. We’ll also take more care than we would at a trail centre as a bad fall in a remote place is not good news.

The best training for this kind of trip is actually just getting out riding – preferably longer distances at a steady pace. 30km at a steady pace will be more useful than 15km at racing speed, so if your local trails are short, slow it down and do 2 laps!  Check out this blog by Matt Mooney of MTB Fitness regarding preparing for this kind of holiday https://mtbguiding.co.uk/uncategorised/guest-blog-6-top-training-tips-get-mtb-holiday/

I’m sure everybody will have their own strengths and weaknesses and everybody will have good days and off days. If we pull together as much as possible, a strong team will achieve way more than a bunch of fit individuals.

There is always the option to sit out a day at any point if your

Bike cleaning and maintenance

We’ll have secure storage for bikes overnight at the hostel and a hose, brushes and a full cleaning kit, supplied by Fenwick’s Bike Products, so you can clean your bike after riding. We’ll also have a bike stand and some tools for fettling and repairs. Please bring any tools that are specific for your bike.

Maps

Yup, we’re guiding so you don’t need them. But if you like following routes on your own maps, it’s best to discuss that with us in Scotland in case plans change and you bring the wrong ones! If you just want printouts or GPX tracks of where we’ve been when we get home, let us know and we can sort it.

There’s no getting around it, 9 mountain bikers will be pretty conspicuous and we’ll have some impact on the landscape and other trail users.As a company, we’re 100% committed to minimising our impact in every way we can.

We operate a strict ‘pack it out’ policy for all litter (including banana skins and orange peel), and we try to leave as little trace of our passing as possible.While we’ll enjoy some epic descents and trails, please ride in control and at a speed that reflects your line of sight and abilities.

We’ll certainly meet walkers and we want any interactions to be as positive as possible. It’s important to give mountain bikers a good name. For more information check out Do the Ride Thing and also the websites listed at the end of these notes.

Weather

In the Scottish Highlands we could experience everything from hot sunny days, wet and windy days to full on winter blizzards. We’ve made many trips to Scotland at this time of year and had a real mix. When packing, please bring winter and summer clothing so we can make more informed decisions about what to wear and carry on the day or the night before. Midges could possibly be an issue at this time year so please bring a good repellent – we recommend Smidge

Insurance

We don’t need medical insurance in Scotland, but I strongly recommend travel insurance just to cover you should you get injured or fall ill before the trip or during it. Try YellowJersey and use the discount code – MTB75

Useful websites

www.outdooraccess-scotland.com

www.wild-scotland.org.uk

Kit list

The weather can be very varied in Scotland so we need to be prepared. We’ll have a briefing every evening to give you an up to date weather forecast and plan the next day. We can share some of the kit to keep packs as light as possible, although on very remote days we need to cover all eventualities.

General

  • Midge spray
  • Suncream
  • Midge net (optional but useful)
  • Earplugs
  • Pyjamas
  • Small hand luggage bag for spare clothes/shoes for after the day’s riding

Riding kit

Please let us know if there’s anything you haven’t got that you may need.

Essential, please make sure you have the following

  • Hydration pack big enough to carry everything in the list below – suggested size 15L to 20L
  • Mini pump for your valve type
  • Inner tube (even if you use tubeless)
  • Tubeless repair kit (if you use tubeless)
  • Puncture patches (if you don’t use tubeless)
  • Tyre levers
  • Multi-tool
  • 1 set of spare brake pads
  • Rear gear hanger for your bike
  • Power link for your chain type and speed
  • Any medication you need

Recommended

  • Dry bag to keep everything dry inside your pack
  • Cable ties
  • Duct tape (we suggest wrapping 1m around your pump)
  • Mobile phone – in a waterproof case or plastic bag
  • Small personal first aid kit

You’ll also need the following

  • Water and snacks – gels, energy bars, jelly babies etc
  • Lunch (this will be provided but you’ll need to carry it)

Recommended clothing

Essential, please make sure you have the following..

  • Helmet
  • Waterproof jacket (a full-on waterproof is recommended)
  • Insulated jacket or very warm emergency layer
  • MTB shoes (you must be able to walk in them!)

Recommended

  • Knee and elbow pads
  • Cycling shorts and/or waterproof shorts (or trousers)
  • Wicking base layer or cycling jersey
  • Mid layer (fleece or soft shell)
  • Woolly hat or buff
  • Riding glasses
  • Gloves (worth having a spare pair if it’s wet)
  • Waterproof socks

Bikes

Your bike needs to be ready for the rigours of the mountains – steep and rocky climbs and very rough descents. A lightweight x-country bike probably won’t be strong enough for the descents and a downhill rig will be too heavy for the climbs. Just about everything in between will do the job.

Tyres are important too. Lightweight racing tyres are easily torn. We recommend good trail or all-mountain tyres such as Maxxis High Rollers/Minion DHR/DHF in a Double Down casing and possibly with inserts.

Please make sure your bike is ready for 6 days of hard riding. Anything that looks slightly suspect will almost certainly break.

There are good bike shops in Aviemore but nothing very convenient beyond there.

There are only 7 spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis. A 30% deposit secures your place with the balance payable 8 weeks before your travel date. We’ll also keep a waiting list in case anyone drops out.

Please select your prefered date below to start the booking process or feel free to call on 01173751360 or email info@tomhuttonmtb.co.uk to discuss further. You can always amend your booking at a later date if you so wish.

PRIVATE GROUPS – please contact us for a custom tour on a specific date and one of our team will get back to you ASAP!

Email – info@tomhuttonmtb.co.uk | Phone – UK +44 1173751360 | Toll Free USA +1 888 510 8376

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