Clachnaben Mountain Bike Trail

Clachnaben, located in Glen Dye, is an Aberdeenshire hill offering a remote circular mountain bike trail, or a very demanding out and back gravel route avoiding the rocky descent.

Clachnaben from a distance The prominent granite tor, sticking up like a gigantic wart at the top of Clachnaben makes the hill instantly recognisable and visible from miles around, and distinguishes it from all the other round topped hills in the area. It is very popular with hill walkers, especially at weekends so this route is best attempted mid week.
Although the round trip is only 12.6 miles (20km) it has 2200ft (670m) of climbing, some of it at 22% gradient, and a descent which is technically challenging and rocky in parts. Definitely a route not to be underestimated.

The name Clachnaben is derived from the Scottish Gaelic, "Clach na Beinne" meaning Stone of the Hill. With Bennachie it ranks as one of the most familiar hills in the North East of Scotland.
 

Trail Description

The route starts from the small, invariably busy and often full car park nestled inside an old quarry beside the B974. From here the trail follows the Water of Dye more or less easterly, round the front of Clachnaben before climbing the Hill of Badymicks to turn westerly and follow the ridge via Hill of Edendocher to the Clachnaben trig point and granite tor. From there it plummets down the rocky steps through Millar's Bog and back to the car park.
Allow 2 to 2½ hours to complete the ride.
 

start of the trailA signposted path leads from the bottom of the car park parallel with the road into an evergreen wood. As always seems to be the case when leaving a car park on a mountain bike, you are going uphill, though this soon gives way to a short descent out of the trees from where the summit of Clachnaben is immediately obvious.
The trail now changes from a well worn, wide walker path to hard packed firebreak road. The firebreak, of varying quality, will continue for the next few miles
 

Water of Dye 
Continue descending to the gate (usually locked) and stile and then onward over the Mill Burn, the lowest point on the route. Ignore the fork right (that will be your return route), keeping on the firebreak with the Water of Dye to your left and dig in for a wee warm up climb; more of a drag really with 400ft over the next mile. This is sheep country, so you expect them to be on the road as you make your way to Charr Bothy.

 

 

Charr BothyCharr Bothy (approx 3.7mile from the start) is easy to spot, it is the only building you will see on the trail.
From the Bothy you roll, albeit slightly uphill for a couple of miles until you reach Burn of Badymicks. Do not ford the burn, instead follow the firebreak to the right and start the climb.
 

On top of Badymicks800ft of climbing over 1.5 mile with gradients in excess of 21% on a sand strewn surface make this a tough climb to the junction at the top. At the junction bear right for a short but welcome descent before another wee push to summit the Hill of Badymicks.
You are now in a surreal landscape of large peat islands sticking up in the air, from their white sand loch.

 

photo courtesy of Trish SteelThe firebreak road is a good bit rougher up here, but still provides great grip for the fast short downs, and slower ups as you make your way to the summit of the Hill of Edendocher, only 9.5 miles into the ride.
At the summit there is a fork in the firebreak, you head left toward the granite Tor. The firebreak soon gives way to rough landy track, and then to a wide stony single track. These sections offer some fun short descents, and interesting climbs where you need to engage your bike handling skills to pick your way through the rocks.
It ends will a little climb to the trig point, and nearby Clachnaben tor.
 

steps down from the tor 
From the tor, you immediately begin the descent.
It is technical, it is steep, it is rocky, it is exposed, and it is not for the feint hearted!
The more proficient riders will be able to ride it, but most riders will walk down the first section. After the narrow rocky steps are out the way the trail becomes less technical, though there are many wide drainage ditches that require long and high bunny hops to avoid a buckled wheel.
 
And do remember, as this is the main route for walkers ascending Clachnaben be on the look out for them as they are unlikely to be expecting anybody on a bike to be hurtling toward them.

 

 

 

Clachnaben plantation trailWhen you reach the trees the trail changes again to become a narrow swooping forest track with roots, blind bends (watch for walkers!) and the occasional large step (small drop off) to keep you focused. You exit the plantation with a short descent to a deer fence, and stile.
Cross the stile and continue the gentle descent via a couple of streams (bridges available but too big a step up to them to make them rideable) to rejoin the main firebreak road. You should recognise the junction, you passed it about 2 hours ago!

Take a left, climb over the stile and head back to the car park with a smile on your face, and that wonderful feeling that you can only get from a great bike ride.
 

Clachnaben Trail Map & Profile

Clachnaben MTB trail map

Glen Dye Facilities

Free car parking
 
 

Very poor, to non existant signal on route.

 

Nearby Facilities

Many cafes in Banchory to the north, also the Clatterin Brig tearoom to the south.

Shops, bars & take aways in Banchory to the north, & Fettercairn to the south.

Nearest cycle repair shop is in Banchory.

What have we missed?

If you think we have missed something in our guide to the Clachnaben Mountain Bike Trail then let us know. Contact details are on the link at the bottom of the page.

Getting to Glen Dye Car Park

Glen Dye car parkThe Glen Dye car park, or as it is often called the Clachnaben Quarry car park and the trail can be found on the OS Landranger map 45 Stonehaven & Banchory
 
AB31 6NE is the nearest postcode for Glen Dye car park
 
Grid reference is NO 64896 86880

From the North (Banchory)

In Banchory take the B974 south towards the village of Strachan, and continue left over the bridge, staying on the B974 (The Old Military Road). The carpark is on the right-hand side, approximately 5 miles from leaving Strachan.

From the South (Brechin)

From the A90 near Brechin, follow signs for Edzell on the B966. Continue on this road until Fettercairn. At the junction in Fettercairn, take the left onto the B974, which will take you past the Clattering Brig tearoom at the bottom of the Cairn O'Mounth. The carpark is approximately a further 5 miles along this road, on the left-hand side.

From the East

Take the A90 south, until a right turn onto the B966 which will take you through Fordoun. At a crossroads, follow the sign to Fettercairn, taking the right hand turn. Once in Fettercairn follow the directions as from the South.

 
Nearby Mountain Bike Trails

Aberdeenshire has loads of great mountain bike trails. Here are three other worth trying:


 
 
Classic mountain biking with trails for all abilities only a mile from the centre of Banchory.


 
 
The go to trails for those wanting to ride to the north of the River Don.


 
 
Ever popular trails and purpose built fun park on the outskirts of Aberdeen.