MOUNTAIN BIKING in East Scotland
All photographs on this site copyright Chris Stamp, except where otherwise indicated
Glen Dye, overlooked by the distinctive landmark of Clachnaben, is an exhilarating place for mountain biking, but not one to be taken lightly. It is fairly remote and exposed, consisting of open moorland with little in the way of trees or buildings, and the tracks in the glen and on the ridges pose dangers for the unwary. For competent cyclists however, it is scenic, challenging and offers something a bit different from anywhere else.
Car parking is available just off the road at the start of the route. As always, be careful not to block access.
There is a full range of challenges in the glen. Close to the start of the route, the tracks are easy for a few kilometres, and suitable for beginners. Further out, the tracks become faster but with the occasional and unexpected sharp rock or hollow in the track to trip anyone not paying attention, and streams to cross. Further on still there are steep climbs and spectacular flat ridges, then hair-raising rocky descents which can be classed as proper downhilling.
The green circuit marked on the map features the full range. The more relaxed alternative is to stay off the hills and explore the glen bottoms.
The green circuit travels the glen bottom, followed by a fairly long climb up to the ridge, then traverses a fantastic level route along the ridge, through a landscape that feels alien at times due to the strange peat and rock formations cut out by severe erosion. The route back down to the glen floor is a challenging downhill experience, with steep declines, loose rock and hairpin bends. Exhilarating if you hold your nerve, but undeniably dangerous. There have in the past been serious accidents, so know your limits..
The yellow routes from the glen floor explore dead-end tracks through a classic upland landscape, with the chance of seeing some rare wildlife such as merlins and short-eared owls. Red deer are almost guaranteed if you scan the hillsides.
It is possible to take a detour from the ridge to the fantastic Clachnaben, capped with a castle-like rock formation. I haven't tried it myself, so I can't comment on the challenge involved, but you can see the track for yourself from Hill of Edendocher and make a decision before undertaking the descent.
Green Route: 20 kms approx.
Photo © George Harris