An undiluted mountain bike experience - if your body can take it

The lower sections of Lairig Ghru won’t deliver the heights or distances of the other mountainous regions of the UK but fear not — what this trail can give you is an undiluted mountain bike experience that can be sampled as many times as your body can take it.

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Wide doubletrack allows the first few miles to fly by, punctuated only by gates. Then you cross the footbridge and ride into a clearing, where you’ll see the true height of the Cairngorms for the first time. Entering the older parts of Rothiemurcus Forest gives a hint of what the Highlands were once like, as you climb gently with the delicate crunch of pine needles under your tyres.

The singletrack descent is a rare delight, and its rocky, ridable terrain and low altitude combine to create an all-weather, all-year treat.

Rarely does a descent offer the same level of enjoyment to all skill levels of rider — two or three sections might see less experienced riders needing to take a look and have another go, but in all, this trail can be ridden as fast as you see fit. Sauntering downhill, stylishly carving the turns, and hitting your lines brings as much of a smile to your face as going at it full gas.

The loop itself might not be massive, or offer the dizzying ups and downs of routes elsewhere in the Cairngorms, but here’s the real challenge: it’s impossible not to head back up the hill for another lap after you’ve sampled Lairig Ghru. Like the old saying goes — once is never enough.