Clachnaben to Builg Mounthmountain bike

A long overdue visit to Clachnaben on mountain bike, that would take in a few previously visited parts but also some exploration of new trails to link it all together.

Looking past Miller’s Bog to Clachnaben, as we skirt around it to enter Glen Dye

We whizzed down Glen Dye to Charr Bothy, hindered only by a number of locked gates. A quick nose around the bothy then the first navigational decision of the day: whether to ascend to the Clachnaben ridge via the nearby trail (steep > flattish > steep) or continue further along the glen slowly ascending then a slightly shorter but still steep ascent along the Burn of Badymicks.

Glen Dye below Gauns Hill
Charr bothy patterns
Charr Bothy
Charr Bothy

We chose to head further up the glen. I noticed various fragile plank “bridges” across the Water of Dye, perhaps temporary routes for deer stalking. I checked out the hut where the Burn of Badymicks joins the Dye, perhaps a useful shelter but not today, my appearance at the door creating a flutter of nesting birds inside, I quickly retreated.

Teetering cable bridge paired with newer contraption
Hut beside Burn of Badymicks
Nesty innards with swoopy residents

The climb up to the Hill of Badymicks is a relentless grind but I resolved to do it without walking and other than a few seconds to snap a colourful caterpillar this was achieved, the minutes gained on my companions allowing for ne to catch my breath while scouting for cloudberries.

Relentless gravely climb
Emperor moth caterpillar
Ripe cloudberry

The advantage of this way up is that there’s a hut nearby, this I think is for grouse hoi-polloi, a nearby locked and far posher hut for the blood-soaked money to bray and hurrah.

Worker’s hut
Shooter’s hut

We also get to traverse the bleak moonscape heading east; tufts of eroded peat many thousands of years in the making, blasted through by a winding road, punctuated by markers to butts within a few yards flopping distance for the ruddies flopping out of wank-panzers.

Hill of Badymicks moonscape
Eagle’s eyeview
Peat eroded to show underlying grit layer
Road across the top for shooting

At Clachnaben tor, there were quite a few walkers in evidence. Most mtb’ers will just plow down the ‘tourist’ path to the east, but it starts off a series of steep steps and rocks, and is busy so I’d thought it better to take the north-east path heading to the top of the Slack of Dye, then down the slack. I knew the slack was ferny in summer and could see a green copse at the bottom end. There’s another path I’d never been on to the north – contours show a steep start, and strava heatmap showed a small amount of bike activity. A brief foot recce showed it to look alright, so down we headed committed to the venture.

Distant Bennachie another instantly recognisable tor-topped hill
View back to Mount Battock
An outer tor
The main tor at the top
Pondering a way down

It quickly gets steep and has many water-washed pots screaming ‘over the bars’, I walked down a few bits. Once it slackens off it turned out mostly ok, a thin scrape through the heather, overgrown and either rocky or occasionally boggy, ducking in and out of a drainage rut.

Descending north past Blairour, the path cuts through heather aside an eroded rut that’s been gouged out by water

At the Western Burn, it crosses a leafy nook, and we stopped to refill water, and pick berries that were growing profusely there.

Leafy spot beside a wee waterfall
Huawei silky water mode
Blaeberry snacking
Lots of them
More snacking

On the other side, we lost the trail amongst the thick vegetation, fortunately gps twiddling got us back on track in the ‘jungle’ and on the mellower slopes the primary hazards were now longer boggy sections and wheel-hiding heather. Eventually it emerges first into a rubble trench and then back onto an estate track.

Tiny sticky plants in the bog
Sometimes the trail is obvious
Sometimes less so
Sometimes pretty wet
Now it’s become a rubble trench
But a nice view to the forest

Down into the forest the tracks are wide and easy, with a section of singletrack past Rouchan. We crossed the old military road and then were on to grassy trails past Cormech and Black Loch through Pitdelphin woods to the old Bridge of Bogendreip where wild rapsberries were duly picked.

Forestry tracks
Singletrack past the bog of Rouchan
Leafy trails
Handy wee sign on the woods
Blaeberries a plenty in Pitdelphin woods
The trail through Pitdelphin woods to Bridge of Bogendreip is unmarked on OS maps
Bridge of Bogendreip 18th century
A small rocky gorge below it

We now followed the Water of Dye upstream then winched up wards to get the forestry ‘motorway’ which drives through the forest until it emerges into a cleared area.

Start of the Builg Mounth
Nice paths along the river in the woods. A bit soggy in places
The track ends at the riverside however there is an unmapped path continuing upstream gradually climbing further from the river, eventually reaching a junction where we climbed higher
This part of the Builg Road is more a road and less a trail

Fortunately it reenters intact woodland and returns to a trail where it’s character more befits it being part of the Builg Road, an ancient ‘mounth’ route. It emerges to moorland with a great view to the west back across to Clachnaben.

After a burn crossing a small sign
I prefer this part of the mounth
Emerging from the woods into moor
Great view back across to Clachnaben
Quite tussocky
Uphill is very heathery
View to the windfarms further east

We left the Builg mounth to head down to heatheryhaugh, a large ford over the Builg burn would be tricky in high water, and the track becomes farmy with dubs n stoor.

Heading down, can just about see the trail
A deeper ford across Builg burn
An old house stands derelict at the head of Glen Dye
Old carpets n wallpaper
Stripped bare. It looks like it may get rescued, big pile of new slates outside

Exiting Glen Dye it’s a short road blast back to the car park, buzzed by growling rally cars travelling from an event nearby. One final photo stop at the picturesque old Bridge of Dye, the second oldest in Deeside from 1680 or earlier (the oldest being Gannochy Bridge. More historic bridges of Aberdeenshire.

Bridge of Dye a lovely old bridge
These buttresses will have seen some ferocious floods across the centuries

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