MOUNTAIN BIKING in East Scotland
All photographs on this site copyright Chris Stamp, except where otherwise indicated
Loch Ordie
The Atholl estate just north of Dunkeld (not to be confused with the larger part of the Atholl estate at Blair Atholl) is a superb area for mountain biking, with craggy hills and small lochs making it a miniature highland landscape. There are dozens of permutations of routes; the three marked on the map above are really just an introduction to the area, and you'll have no trouble designing your own routes once you know the area. At weekends it is a popular place for walkers, rock climbers and families cycling (so you need to watch your speed particularly at bends) but on evenings it is often deserted.


The official car park for users of the estate is just north of Dunkeld (look out for the signposted landrover track into the wood) and is the one you need for the orange route.(scroll down to the southern end). There is a board there showing recommended paths to use for various actvities, i.e. some paths are requested to be for walkers only. This doesn't hinder cyclists as there are still more than enough routes to choose from.

The other parking location marked, near Guay (access from A9 north of Dunkeld) is used for the green and yellow routes. It consists of limited, informal parking and may be already occupied on busy weekends. Parking consists of space at the end of the track on the bend, and more informal laybys just past the bend.


All of the routes are suitable for fit beginners upwards, and can probably be considered 'easy' for experienced mountain bikers. Atholl estate isn't a place to start if you are unfit, but if you are an accustomed cyclist then you won't encounter anything too daunting. Even if you are a cyclist who prefers to push your bike up the occasional steeper slope, there's still plenty to enjoy on all of these routes.

The orange route is the easiest of the three, with no major inclines - any steep bits tending to be fairly short.

The green route is steep at the start and unless you are looking for a challenge you'll probably end up pushing your bike up some of that section (or try the left hand track at the bottom of the hill which is longer but easier) but it's fairly relaxed once you are on the higher ground.The section from Loch Ordie to Loch Benachally is wilder and a little more challenging.

The yellow route is along a very quiet road for part of the way, with a short steep climb on tarmac up to Tulliemet House, and another short, steep climb on rocky terrain shortly after entering the moor. Other than that, it isn't demanding. 

Route description:

The green route ascends to Loch Ordie, skirts the loch and then heads up over the moor to a superb view over Loch Benachally. Although it looks tempting on the map to make a circuit back to Loch Oride via Riemore Lodge, I wouldn't recommend it - you may find access past the Lodge resticted, and the gradients over the hill make it tough for cycling. As marked on the map, you can take a different route round Loch Ordie on the way back.

The orange route meanders up and down through beautiful terrain past small lochans, eventually reaching Loch Ordie. The fishing lodge there is an excellent place for a picnic On this route, take care over navigation at The Glack and Raor Lodge, where it is possible to take wrong turnings.

The yellow route is partly on tarmac on a very quiet and scenic road, through a farmyard and onto a private road, then on landrover track onto the moor, and down to the boathouse at Loch Broom.

None of the routes is circular, but the scenery is so appealing that you won't mind looking at it again from the other direction..


The estate is fantatstic for wildlife, and in the summer months ospreys aren't hard to see if you keep your eyes peeled. There are several nests in the area, and if you find yourself beneath one (there is one in a tree right next to one of the tracks), please don't loiter - the birds may be disturbed. Unfortunately egg-collectors have been known to raid the nests, which means that the birds have good reason to be upset by the proximity of people.

Aside from ospreys, there are fallow deer (unusual in Scotland, where red deer and roe deer are the native species), ravens, grouse, the occasional wandering golden eagle, and in recent years, sea eagles from the RSPB's reintroduction project in Fife. If you see one of these huge birds you won't forget it. With a wingspan of over eight feet they are the fourth biggest eagle in the world - significantly bulkier than the more reclusive golden eagle. .

Beyond the routes included here are many more cyclable tracks, and anything that looks like a landrover track on the map is likely to be suitable. But be prepared for anything marked as a path (single dotted line) to be rougher, rutted, overgrown with heather and potentially boggy and with high stiles to lift over. I have cycled some of the paths but wouldn't be inclined to repeat it, whereas the landrover tracks are generally a pleasure to cycle.

Green Route: 15 kms approx.                     Orange Route: 16 kms approx                             Yellow route: 21 kms approx.
Landranger map 52 or 53