Head to the Queen's backyard for some royally good trails
Of all the top biking areas in Scotland – and there are a few – Ballater and its surroundings are the hidden gems.
They don’t get the visitor pressure of the northern Cairngorms but have all the excellent trails, winding woodland singletrack and hilltop exposure of their more popular counterparts.
This ride is a new and improved version of a local classic known as the Green Mile ride, so called because it takes in some gloriously vivid green woodland as part of the descent back to the River Dee.
Or at least it would, if they hadn’t been in with some heavy machinery recently, making it more appropriately known as the Brown Mile. That doesn’t quite have the same ring however, and is only a temporary glitch anyway.
Almost straight off the line you are into some narrow and indistinct forest singletrack, winding between trees and popping over roots as you progress towards the foot of the Coyles of Muick.
A forest road is the easiest way to gain altitude, and the reward for this effort is the start of a beautiful section of singletrack. Top notch in its own right, add in the sweeping views northwest to the Cairngorms and you have a truly unique spot that is more than worth the work done in seeking it out.
Sometimes fast, sometimes slower and more picky through technical sections, it is always superb. For the full 3km along the treeline you are open to that stunning view, so don’t forget to stop now and again to take it all in.
The Green Mile section is a fast drop down through woodland on a forest track, followed by another beautiful spin through tree-lined singletrack, populated by crumbling walls and loamy trail – a contrast to those open hilltop trails of only minutes before.
A final spin along the fast riverside singletrack pops you right back into Ballater with barely a sniff of tarmac, ready for a coffee stop.