"We were amazed at the quality of the singletrack. It was more 'alpine' than many Alps trails we've ridden. The feeling of 'getting away from it all' and really going on a big adventure - taking bikes where it felt there's never been bikes before!"
More Alpine than the Alps!
Come and sample the incredible riding in the Queen’s ‘backyard’ – the splendour of the Cairngorms, Angus Glens and Deeside. We guarantee you’ll be spoiled for choice in this secret mountain bikers paradise, but don’t take our word for it – it’s what our guests say! Watch our video for a flavour of why they love it so much.
It feels like we’ve been riding here forever and the mountain biking never gets stale because there’s so much to choose from. Each day on this mountain bike tour, we spider out into the wilderness by bike or in the vehicle from the picture postcard Highland village of Braemar in Deeside to pick up sweet ribbons of singletrack, ancient drove roads and long forgotten tracks we’ve uncovered over the years.
The Mountain Royale mountain bike trip is something we’re very proud of – not least because it’s in one of those areas that’s still very much under the radar of the mountain biking public so it comes as a big surprise just how fantastic the riding is. But also because it offers up such a huge variety of riding from big mountain epics to sweet forest singletrack (plus a healthy slice of ‘apres-biking’ too!).
- Type of TripAll-mountain
- Technical Grading and above
- Endurance Grading and above
- How Long? This is a week-long adventure running Saturday to Friday
Here’s what you can expect
- A week exploring the lesser known trail gems of the Cairngorms, Deeside and the Angus Glens
- Professional Guides – expertly trained, hugely experienced but most of all great fun and with a wealth of local knowledge to share!
- Unique Lodge Accommodation in the heart of the action
- Buffet breakfasts to set you up for the day
- Logistics and comprehensive support including backup vehicle, First Aid and mechanical assistance throughout your trip
- Detailed pre-departure information
- Trip photos
- Join the trip in Innerleithen, Edinburgh or Perth (alternative arrangements may be possible – please contact us to discuss)
2019 Trip Dates
- July 13th to 19th (Mountain Lassies exclusive)
- August 31st to September 6th
- October 4th to 6th (Dirty Weekend)
Short on time then check out all the Dirty Weekend options!
Did somebody say coffee?
Trips typically begin with a fresh coffee (of course!) and a rendezvous around 9am in the Tweed Valley with pick-ups in Edinburgh and Perth (full details are sent out beforehand).
After high-fives and handshakes, a last-minute supply run may be the order of the day, then we safely secure our precious cargo onto our custom bike trailer, load the minibus, turn on the tunes and kick off the adventure! As we truck north to our Deeside HQ, we’ll treat ourselves to a tasty ride on some lesser-known trail delights in this slice of mountain biking heaven.
By the time we swing back into the village we’ll be ready to crack open the beers and rustle up a hearty dinner at our accommodation or nip out and enjoy some local pub grub and ale of course!
Five minutes out the door of your fantastic accommodation, you’ll be picking up your second taste of what’s on offer.
Big ups for big downs and wide smiles. We’ll take it easy on the climbs though, keeping plenty in the tanks for the good bits. A mix of fast natural heathery singletrack, granite slabs and long steep descents are the rewards for today’s efforts.
That evening, we’ll probably give in to the lure of the local pub and enjoy some great grub, a tasty ale and the buzz from shredding some of the funnest descents anywhere.
Big mountains and big flow. Epic panoramas are just one reward for reaching the plateau of one of the UK’s highest summits – the real dessert comes when we tackle the maze of pristine singletrack below us.
Before we focus on the trail, we’ll take five to soak it all up – in this landscape of giants, we’re just dots. It’s the perfect environment to forget the daily grind.
The tiny mountain town of Braemar is the gateway to the most rewarding backcountry mountain biking in Scotland – today’s going to be quite an ‘out there’ experience.
Definitely a three sandwich kind of day!
It feels like we’ve been riding here forever and the mountain biking never gets stale because there’s so much to choose from. Mountain Royale is a land of contrasts – the Queen’s highland retreat is nearby, hidden deep in the silent forests of ancient Scots Pine sheltering beneath some of the UK’s highest summits, where the sub-arctic landscape is more similar to Scandinavia than the rest of the British Isles.
Today is one of our favourites – a loam-rich rollercoaster through the pines.
With so much riding on our doorstep, we’ve plenty of time for another dose of singletrack goodness to keep your head spinning for weeks – this time a sweet ribbon, only reached by an ancient drove road and long forgotten track we uncovered over the years of exploring this maze of mountain biking fun.
Just as you’re getting into the groove, you realise it’s our very last day…after a relaxed breakfast, we’ll sort out our kit, take one last look at this incredible part of Scotland before starting our homeward journey south.
We want you to pick the right mountain bike trip in Scotland for your fitness and technical ability – it helps ensure you’ll be riding with people of a similar skill level and can ride at the pace you want to ride at.
We’ve developed a trip grading based on our experience riding the terrain that features on our trips, as well as meeting and learning from riders from all over the world and understanding their expectations.
Please read the following guidelines carefully to ensure you pick a mountain bike holiday in Scotland suited to your skill and fitness. If you are unsure if a trip is right for you, please contact us.
This trip be enjoyed by riders at 3-5 level.
The goal of the Technical Rating is to understand the ability of the rider as it pertains to obstacles, conditions and trail design. This means it has nothing to do with your physical endurance, but is instead strictly a measure of your technical ability. Making sure you accurately rate your technical ability will ensure you have an exciting ride, while remaining within your ability level to keep you safe.
We use ‘+’ to designate when a trip is at the top of a grading e.g 2+ is just below grading 3; and ‘++’ when a trip grading subsumes all other higher gradings e.g. 3++ would be suitable for 3+ riders as well as grading 4 and 5 riders.
You are a confident mountain biker and have been riding technical terrain for at least 2 years including exposed singletrack and rough landrover track, on uneven, loose and frequent steep gradients, with frequent variation in trail surfaces from rocks to roots. You are comfortable riding on trails approximately 12 inches wide that vary greatly in their stability and may be unpredictable including loose rock. You are comfortable regularly traversing unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, logs and drop offs up to 15 inches tall, and some obstacles encountered may exceed that.
You are an expert mountain biker and have been riding expert level trails for at least 5 years. You think of yourself as a ‘mountain biker’ and you already know that the more competent a bike handler you are beforehand, the more you’ll get from the trip; you’re confident riding unpredictable terrain and using bunny hopping and front/rear wheel lifting techniques and relish unpredictable, varied natural ungraded trail surfaces including a mix of flowy and loose rocky or rooty singletrack, landrover tracks, steep technical climbs (including hike-a-bike sections) and descents, frequent rocks, slabs and water bar drainage features.
You are comfortable riding on trails of any width that are highly unstable and are completely unpredictable including loose rock. You are comfortable regularly traversing unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, logs and drop offs well over 15 inches tall, and many obstacles encountered will exceed that. You are comfortable riding any technical trail features that may be present on the trail.
Level 5 is reserved for our Level 4 Expert riders who live and breath mountain biking and take every opportunity to manual, nose-wheelie and bunnyhop the trails. You love the biggest, most technically challenging trail features – up or down. Speaking of which, you also know that in order to go down, you must pedal (and carry) up and can handle any trail conditions or obstacles identified in Level 4.
This trip will be enjoyed by fit riders who rate themselves 3-5 for endurance.
The goal of the Endurance Rating is to understand the ability of the rider as it pertains to overall physical endurance. Riding on the road or in “Spin Class” is great and all, but mountain biking is a completely different animal (ask anyone who has made the switch). The reason being is that the terrain is changing every second, which forces your entire body and your mind to be involved in the exercise process. This exertion will cause exhaustion to set in a lot quicker than you think. Be sure you read the descriptions carefully because we want you to have fun out there, not think this is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
You are an avid mountain biker riding twice a week or more, and the weather isn’t a big factor for you. You are at an above-average fitness level, and regularly do other activities that qualify as exercise. You usually find yourself riding for 3 hours on the trails, you’ll ride on consecutive days, and you ride at a moderate pace.
You are a very avid mountain biker, who is considered an ‘athlete’ by friends and only getting out on the trails twice in the week is a bad week for you. Riding and exercising is a frequent part of your weekly routine: you relish sustained challenging riding including long rides of 4 – 6 hours at a moderate pace for four or more days in a row.￼ The weather is never a factor for you, rain or shine – you are riding.
You are fit! You devour 6 – 8 + hour rides for five or more days in a row.￼ You are an XC or Enduro racer who probably missed their flight to the World Cup / Enduro World Series this year because you were too busy training so you opted to come for a ride with us instead. You train on your mountain bike daily, and you are comfortable riding on trails for distances in excess of 60km per day and climbing vertical in excess of 7000 feet in a day. You ride your bike everywhere, in all weather conditions, and would likely enjoy riding in a hurricane.
Where we stay during our mountain bike tours of Scotland plays almost as big a part in the overall experience as the trails we ride.
We use a wide variety of accommodation, from wild camping and bothy huts in remote wilderness settings to rustic hostels through to comfortable and friendly inns and guest houses, luxury self catering lodges, castles and everything in between.
On this trip, we stay in a ‘lodge’ on a bed and breakfast basis – think of it a bit like a ski lodge (without the snow obviously!); a comfortable self-catering vacation rental chalet in the heart of mountain biking heaven.
Our lodges provide a fantastic base in a prime location to come back to at the end of a big day in the hills – with the added benefit that you don’t need to unpack and repack throughout your trip, and the flexibility of full catering, laundry and drying facilities at your disposal.
Food & Drink
Mountain biking in Scotland means you will be hungry (very hungry!) and despite the remoteness of this particular trip, there are opportunities to enjoy great fresh Scottish fayre and of course a dram or two and a fine ale!
Breakfasts are included and are provided on a help yourself continental style basis to set you up for the day e.g fruits, yogurts, muesli, cereals, porridge, juices, breads etc (dietary requirements are taken into account from your booking).
There will be opportunities for you to buy packed lunch provisions to carry on the rides, or, depending on routes we may enjoy a great cafe stop or lunch at a traditional Inn (your guides will let you know the plan each day).
Some meals are enjoyed in locally selected inns and bistros, and for the rest, provisions will be purchased on your behalf by ourselves to enjoy preparing meals at the beautiful accommodation facilities, around the firepit or for a BBQ on the deck (your guides will let you know the plan each day).
We estimate a budget of £20 to £35 per person per day is adequate for lunches and evening meals with refreshments.
A week uncovering the lesser known trail gems of the Cairngorms, Deeside and the Angus Glens
Professional Guides (two minimum) – expertly trained, hugely experienced but most of all great fun and with a wealth of local knowledge to share!
Six nights accommodation in a Highland cabin
Help yourself buffet breakfasts to set you up for the day
Free transport (start/finish of the trip)
Free shuttles throughout the trip
Professional mountain bike guides
Qualified first aid assistance
Mechanical assistance throughout your trip
Your first meal with refreshments is our welcome to you (no cost)
Apres-bike swimming in the river!
Full kitchen, laundry and drying facilities
Secure bike storage
Bike wash facilities
Detailed pre-departure information
Trip photo album
Meals and drinks except breakfasts and those stated above
Additional transportation or accommodation not mentioned above
Additional accommodation before, during or after the trip
Baggage / bike box collection & storage
Single room supplement (if applicable)
Initial departure point: 08:45, Co-op Supermarket, Innerleithen (free parking available)
Pick-up point two: 09:30/45, Edinburgh Park train station
Rendezvous point: Lochside Avenue entrance / Premier Inn (Gyle) side of the track (Edinburgh Airport Tram connection is available, 12 min journey)
Pick-up point three: 10:30/45, Perth Services Travelodge Hotel, Perth
Journey time to the accommodation in Deeside is approximately three hours excluding stops
On our way north, we’ll pick up supplies in Blairgowrie
Near Braemar, we’ll have a quick lunch and afterwards enjoy a short ride to sample the trails and stretch the legs before reaching our accommodation around 17:30
At the end of the trip, we will be arriving back in the Edinburgh (Park) area around 15:00 and Innerleithen by 16:00.
Luggage & Bike Transportation
For all trips, there is allowance for one large holdall plus riding backpack per person
Regrettably, we do not have provision to store/carry bike bags and boxes during trips – please ask your accommodation e.g. in Edinburgh if they can store it for you; most will be happy to. Please request this service in advance
Bikes are securely carried (fully-assembled) and attached to our custom Burtech trailer and should be ready fully assembled for the trip start
We always recommend guest bikes are fully insured
A fully serviced 3 – 6 inch travel full suspension bike with dropper seatpost and hydraulic disc brakes is recommended
It’s entirely possible to take part in our trips on more modest setups or hardtails but we find that over the course of several consecutive days riding, the added comfort and confidence of a full suspension trail bike is a real asset, and enhances the overall experience
If you prefer not to travel with your bike, or you’d like to try something new, we have access to some of the best full suspension mountain bikes available from brands including Santa Cruz, Juliana, Trek, Orange and Whyte to name just a few
If you’re interested in hiring a great bike, we have fantastic deals from our retail partners– available from £50 per day – so please just ask or add this option to your trip on the booking page
If you’re hiring a bike, for your safety and comfort we always recommend bringing your
own helmet and pedals
Groups & Individuals
We welcome solo travellers (in fact most of our guests travel solo) but did you know that if you’re making a group booking (2+ riders) you’ll automatically save money at the checkout (up to 18%) whether you’re booking for a club, colleagues, friends or family – whoever’s in your tribe.
To secure a booking, we require a 25% deposit when the reservation is made, with the balance payable within 60 days of your booking commencement. For bookings made less than 60 days before booking commencement, full payment is required at the time of booking.
Our guides are fully trained and qualified to the highest standards required to operate in the mountain environments where our trips take place.
“So what, we’re a bunch of friends, we ride lots and we’re pretty good at navigation.”
We hear this all the time, and we don’t want to baby anyone. That’s why we offer self-guided packages too, once we’re confident that our clients will be safe first, and have a great experience second.
Scotland is a beautiful but wild place. When you pay for our services, you’re paying for the reassurance that we know our way around the mountains, how to read people, the local conditions, logistics, fix mechanicals and always have a another ‘plan A’ up our sleeve.
As well as being extraordinarily great human beings (as standard!), all our mountain bike guides hold, as a minimum, the Mountain Bike Leader qualification and emergency outdoor first aid qualifications. We believe these to be the most robust and rigorous qualifications in the business and the minimum standard for running trips like ours in Scotland. They’re not easy to come by but your enjoyment is our business.
An adventure wouldn’t be an ‘adventure’ without a degree of risk. It’s our job to manage those risks so you have the best time possible. As well as substantial field first aid kits, your mountain bike guides will be packing (or distributing among the group) essential group emergency items including mobile telecom’s, VHF long-range radios, emergency survival shelters, and extra emergency clothing and supplies.
Speaking of guides – we operate with the highest ratio of professional guides to clients in the industry. The current regulations permit one guide per group of eight. We don’t agree this is acceptable. We’re a lot more comfortable with at least two staff per eight clients, and a maximum group size of eight in the sensitive mountain environments we run our trips. Sure, we might not be the most profitable outfit in the industry but we strive to be the safest.
We employ robust late back procedures, and every trip is fully risk assessed. While no one can guarantee a 100% safe trip, we do everything possible to minimise risks. And long before we depart we ensure the trip is suitable for you – none of this one size fits all approach – it simply doesn’t work.
Only one thing matches our desire to enjoy Scotland’s amazing outdoors and that’s our commitment to contribute to sustainable adventure tourism in Scotland.
We operate ‘small footprint’ mountain bike adventures to minimise any negative environmental impacts of running our business. We are often asked about running large group trips in remote, sensitive locations but in line with our safety and environmental policy – that’s not really our forté.
As well as being members of the key environmental organisations in Scotland, we encourage our clients to consider their interaction with the environments they are riding wherever possible. We also make use of local hospitality, products and services to ensure our trips contribute economically to the rural environments we enjoy so much. We took another small step in the right direction recently by becoming members of ‘1% for the Planet’. But we must do more.
Consumer Financial Protection
Our Consumer Financial Protection insurance protects your money. This is in fact a legal requirement but not every adventure company even knows this and some choose to ignore it. Why? Because it’s expensive and complicated to become fully insured in this way, and not every application is accepted. Ours was. Your money is safe with us.
Tour Operators Liability
Did you know that in the UK it’s us, the tour operators, who are liable for all aspects of your mountain bike holiday bike package in Scotland? That’s why we have ‘Tour Operators Liability Cover’. Always ask your supplier if they have this insurance. You need it and they should have it.
We work hard to maintain high professional standards but you probably wouldn’t know it because we’re having way too much fun. Ten years on it still puts the biggest smile on our faces when our clients take time out to tell us how much they enjoyed their mountain bike trip in Scotland. See what ‘Our Clan’ have to say about their mountain bike holiday on Google and via our trip reviews.
Looking for world-class riding and a real wilderness feel? And a real Scottish Highland village to come back to at the end of the day – to enjoy a fresh coffee, a real ale, or a hearty evening meal – not to mention one of Scotland’s best stocked bike shops just around the corner? This trip’s for you!