MOUNTAIN BIKING in East Scotland
All photographs on this site copyright Chris Stamp, except where otherwise indicated
Sidlaw Hills: Two castles and a priory
Green Route: 28 kms approx.                                                                                                               Blue Route: 10 kms approx.
The Sidlaw Hills are little-visited, and access is not easy unless you know the area well. This route covers some interesting hidden corners with castles, lochans and stone circles, and features some excellent views over the hills and the Tay. A mixture of country lane and off-road track provides a good introduction the area.. 


Parking is at an informal layby just north west of Knapp, near to the sawmill.


There is nothing especially difficult about the route, other than the odd steep climb, as you'd expect from a hill route. The tracks are all reasonable surfaces - mostly well-maintained landrover tracks and country roads. There is a good chance of encountering livestock. If you want to avoid passing close to cattle, best save this route for the winter when they will be in their sheds. However there should be relatively little danger from them so long as you don't do anything to scare them, and don't put yourself between mothers and calves.

Route description:

The route passes through Rossie Estate, centred around Rossie Priory, which can be seen from the track. The estate is a fascinating little enclave, with a cricket ground ,a ruined castle and several interesting old estate buildings. However the route doesn't stop to explore (feel free to diverge from it if you want a look around by turning left at Castlehill farm instead of right), but climbs out of the estate again to Aberntye and on along the top of the hills with fantastic views south to Kinnaird. There is an imposing castle here - a short diversion off the route takes you to the foot of it.

We descend down to the foot of the hills, and along the road to the village of Rait, with its antique centre and thatched cottages. A track out of the back of the village takes you to Fingask Castle, and its topiary, well and cave. Please pass this private residence with discretion.

The track then winds its way past a ruined mill up onto the hills again, and you might encounter cattle over the brow of the hill. The route then travels over lonely hills and down the other side to meet a minor road, which ascends into a picturesque glen overlooked by Dunsinane Hill, with the ridges of its ancient hillfort,rumoured to belong to Macbeth. There are ancient stone circles in the small wood to the left, at the top of the climb into the glen (see map).

Partway along the glen road, a diversion can be made to explore Pitmiddle Wood, with Seamaw Loch and its aquatic scarecrow, which presumably is to discourage ospreys from partaking of the fish stock!

The route then makes its way back to the car park on country roads..

If you have time and energy to spare, you can extend the route by turning left rather than right at East Newton, to take in Littleton, Redmyre Loch (via a public right of way), Dron and Knapp (see blue route).