Slugain Quoichmountain bike

One of my friends from the Cairngorm Club had suffered knee injury like myself, so we were both heading out more regularly on bike, and revisiting routes previously done by myself as runs, now on 2 wheels. Today would be a revisit to one of my favourites Slugain and Quoich loop,

Dappled road past Invercauld
Heading up Glen Slugain

A visit to a secret place to show my friend who had never seen it was soon joined by walkers we had passed, I’m not sure it’s much of a secret any more.

Eagle of the secret place. Cable holds the roof down
Roof was refurbished in recent years
Beinn a Bhuird with a few fragments of snow remaining

Looking towards Beinn a Bhuird, a few scattered fragments of snow resisted the blaze higher up. This area is apparently know as “The Laird’s Tablecloth” and used to retain snow throughout the year, there being a prophesy that the Farquharsons would retain Invercauld estate until it didn’t. This is unfortunately not yet realised, it’s vast areas remaining locked in Victorian landscape brutality, but one can hope that as environmental degradation becomes less acceptable it can join the small but growing band of Aberdeenshire estates heading towards a less harmful strategy of land management.

The Laird’s tablecloth
Down to the ford

We forded the Quoich easily and stopped for a break. Behind a large boulder there was a pile of unburied excrement and tissues: those believers in ‘magical clean water’ should realise that there’s more mess than ever with the pandemic spilling outdoor-uneducated masses further into the wilds.

Across the ford

The track heading down the riverside is a lush and scenic, pine-needly rollercoaster, sweet on 2-wheels. A brief interlude to chat with some hikers, a frog in a puddle on the trail duly moved aside, some small fords then the very wide ford across the Allt Dubh Ghlinne was unusually ridden across.

Swishing through Beacan Wood
Wide ford managed with no wading
Regeneration along the track
Classic Quoich view

Heading down the landrover tracks of Glen Quoich, we ascended a new section that’s been built – it climbs up the hillside far from the river, safe from erosion, but apart from being a stiff climb, it’s a wide bright scar of loose rubble. It’ll take many years to ‘bed in’, it seems unduly road like for the conservation-minded Mar Lodge, though I notice further up the glen a pile of logs thinned from the nearby forest, perhaps they’re providing access to remove them.

Steep and loose
Further downstream

We made our way to Linn of Quoich for a break, it was busy with other bikers who were finishing a trip with a paddle. We inspected the nearby cottage – you can see inside at the back, doesn’t look like much left inside.

You can see the gap at the side of the punchbowl – you can enter it and swim out.
Paddlers having left, scenic bike shot opportunity
Classic Linn of Quoich view with the Punchbowl
Queen Victoria’s Tea room
Innards of the tea room

We headed east to get back to the start – meeting an unfortunate chap pushing his mtb, who’d broken his gears far back in the mountains and had been pushing for hours.

The track past Allanmore

Returning to Invercauld, we decided on a detour to add a bit extra to the day, first to the ‘fog house’ and then along a track winding higher around Craig Leek that I’d never been to before. I should have paid a bit more attention to the map contours – a relentless grind up soft grassy trails in the stillness and steaming heat of the forest.

Heading slowly upwards
Welcome rest break to investigate a lime kiln
View from top
Fog house from 19th century or earlier
A fine spot for a break

The track rounded Craggan Rour, and being cut steeply into the hillside it provided great views of the Dee, and further on the crags of Craig Leek’s east face and the wide spaces of the Felagie Burn glen, it proving a scenic diversion worthwhile of the effort, to end the day.

Trail winding past an old gate around Craggan Rour
View across to The Stuic
Valley view
East face of Craig Leek
Lochnagar and The Stuic

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