Friday, 16 August 2013

Scottish C2C MTB: Days 5-7

Day 5: Braemar to Glen Tanar
Easyish day to Glen Tanar leaving Braemar by track past Lions Face then short road section before picking up forest tracks following R Dee to Balmoral.  Over hill to Easter Balmoral then back roads (close encounter with Buzzards) and forest trails to Ballater for lunch. After a snooze on the green,  took Deeside way to Dinnet then roads and farm tracks to start of Glen Tanar for leisurely (and in places not so leisurely) ride through more Caledonian pines by sun dappled Water of Tanar.  Halfway Hut seemed a bit too cosy for the night so camped in woods by the river and in the company of a lot of flies!
35 miles today. Total 131 miles.  39 miles to Montrose. 
Day 6: On to Glen Esk
After a wet night we faced down the morning  midgefest by encasing ourselves in thick clothing and headnets and sweated our way to the foot of Mt Keen. If you ever read a book which says it's a good idea to take a mountain bike up here,  tear out the relevant pages, douse then in petrol and burn them under an oxy-acetylene flame. Then if there are any ashes left, crush them and give them to a hobbit to throw into the fires of a volcano. The lad in the Ballater bike shop said we could look forward to a 2hr push. We scoffed. Even after 45 minutes and half the ascent done, we poopooed the idea. At 2 hrs we crested the shoulder and decided we should probably listen to the local knowledge in future. The continuing route to the summit looked like more of the same and we (mostly) rode the singletrack round the side, finally crossing into Glen Mark. The descent was full of excitement with screaming brakes and the momentum of the trailers pushing us on. We came to rest opposite Queen Vic's well and snoozed in the sun for an hour in this beautiful glen whilst the Blairgowrie ladies walking group went up and back. Some pleasant riding to a house advertising tea and ice cream which we eagerly partook of before skirting the Hill of Rowan (? The one with the cone on) to Tarfside, encountering a large grouse shooting party a bit too close for comfort.  A sign advertising hot food until 6, 1 mile down the glen tempted us on, only to find that during the week they shut at 5 (but apparantly it needed more paint to write that!)
We had one more hill to cross but after the shooting party incident,  we decided to lose the last 6km more off road and carried on to Glenesk campsite and a shower. 25 miles.
Day 7: The Sea
Lots of rain night but sunny morning. I'd promised Hilary breakfast in  the Tuck Inn (I know how to show a girl a good time) but when we arrived at 9.30 it was shut. A chap on a bike pointed us at a cafe further along the road and we had an unsatisfactory cup of tea and yesterday's scones. Then roads to Montrose and the beach, including a green lane that prematurely ended in a field of barley. 
Total distance,  including a back track on the dead end track this morning,  175 miles.

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