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A family cycle ride to Loch an Eilein in the Rothiemurchus forest near Aviemore

By John Davidson

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Jennifer is delighted at riding through the shallow ford.
Jennifer is delighted at riding through the shallow ford.

The forest trails around Glenmore offer endless possibilities for exploring away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

They are perfect for letting the children go free range, without worries about traffic, which was especially important for our youngest, Matthew, who was still getting to grips with his brakes.

This trip certainly saw him turn a corner in that regard, heading down the bumpy tracks and finally using his brakes rather than his shoes to slow himself down!

With the summer holidays coming to an end, this was a fine foray into the outdoors in the heat of the sun – but it’s also a great ride to do at other times of year.

We started out at the woodland car park at Inverdruie, where there is bike hire available. Our friend and her daughter had picked up their bikes and met us there, ready to go.

The route to Loch an Eilein is signposted from the cycle path.
The route to Loch an Eilein is signposted from the cycle path.

The route to Loch an Eilein is signposted along the cycle path, which heads deeper into Glenmore.

After a couple of small road crossings, take the right turn up the road to Blackpark, where the way to the loch is also signed. This is a dead-end road which usually has very little traffic on it, though we did have to pull in a couple of times to let vehicles past.

Around 800m up this road, where it bends to the left, follow the track straight on as it continues to climb gradually. As you approach a house at Croft, there is a ruin opposite and a fabulous view to the Monadhliath mountains.

I looked across, picking out the Burma Road which snakes its way over the pass between Geal-charn Mor and Geal-charn Beag – a fabulous mountain bike adventure that I really must revisit soon.

Back to today’s family ride, we passed through a gate and dropped downhill at last – it was hot work pedalling upwards in the heat of the sun.

The Burma Road is visible from the aptly named Croft, near Blackpark.
The Burma Road is visible from the aptly named Croft, near Blackpark.

The track emerges almost at the road-end, but this can be busy as it leads to the car park for the popular Loch an Eilein. We briefly joined the road and headed through the car park to reach the loch shore.

An alternative is to join the track that is effectively a continuation of the road – but we wanted to enjoy a lunch stop beside the loch. We spent some time here, watching the ducks, looking at the castle on the island and people paddling out to it, then having an ice cream, but eventually we had to get moving again.

We followed the little path round the northernmost edge of the loch, then went right to join the track that continues from the end of the road. This passes Forest Cottage, after which you stick to the main track until a junction at a gate.

Matthew was on his tiny bike, so some of the bumps and loose rock was making it difficult for him, but he persevered and was now mastering using his brakes – which will save us a fortune in shoe replacements in future!

Matthew at the crossroads.
Matthew at the crossroads.

A sign at the junction points left, towards the Lairig Ghru and Glen Einich. We followed the excellent if uneven trail, which crosses a few minor fords. The kids, of course, wanted to go through the water rather than using the wooden bridges at the side, and who can blame them?

It was great to see the look of delight on Jennifer’s face when she made it through the longest one without putting her feet down. That joy is what it’s all about!

Follow a sign left towards Loch Morlich at a gnarly old tree, then ignore a slightly older track left and continue over a newer track at a crossroads to very soon reach a signed crossroads just before Lochan Deo.

Our route would take us left here, towards Coylumbridge, and after an initial easy climb it is more or less all downhill from here.

In the few openings between the trees, we looked up to the Meall a’ Bhuachaille ridge across a bed of lush green Scots pine; a fabulous view that Jennifer insisted on getting a photograph of.

Back through the forest, it wasn’t long before we reached the campsite at Coylumbridge and, after passing through a couple of gates, joined the Old Logging Way path, turning left to enjoy its twists and turns on the way back to Inverdruie.

Loch an Eilein is a popular spot with visitors.
Loch an Eilein is a popular spot with visitors.

Route details

Loch an Eilein from Inverdruie

Distance 6.5 miles / 11km

Terrain Cycle path; minor road; forest tracks and paths; bumpy and loose rock in places; some minor fords

Start/finish Inverdruie, woodland car park

Map OS Landranger 36; OS Explorer OL57

A summer cycle ride to visit a popular loch in the delightful Rothiemurchus forest

Exploring the trails on little wheels!
Exploring the trails on little wheels!

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