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.
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.
Clach na ben from Glen Dye - Trail Description
The route starts from the Clachnaben quarry car park. This small, invariably busy and often full car park is 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.
A 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.
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 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 landrover track to the right and start the climb.
800ft 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.
The 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 stoney 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.
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.
When 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 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
Facilities at Clachnaben and Nearby
local_parking Free parking at quarry car park.
wc No toilets.
Nearest cafes are in Banchory to the north, also the Clatterin Brig tearoom to the south - see our page listing Cafes near Clachnaben.
Mobile phone signal poor to non-existant.
build Nearest cycle repair shops are in Banchory.
Shops, bars & take aways in Banchory to the north, & Fettercairn to the south.
If you think we have missed something in our guide to the Clachnaben Mountain biking trail then let us know. Contact details are on the link at the bottom of the page.
Parking for Clachnaben is at the Glen Dye car park, or as it is often called the Clachnaben Quarry car park - grid reference NO 64896 86880
Use post code AB31 6NE for Sat Nav.
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.
Nearby Mountain Bike Trails
Durris Wood currently offers a couple of marked trails and a complex network of unmarked trails that suits all abilities. There are plans to create a chairlift-serviced mountain bike park, snow sports centre and multi-activity adventure experience at the woods.
Aboyne Bike Park
Aboyne Bike Park is a small mountain bike centre, on the edge of the village of Aboyne, in Bell Wood. Five short trails offer something for the novice to the expert with black grade downhill tracks and a triad of trails making an impressive jump park.
Ben Aigan in the heart of Whisky country offers an exposed circular mountain bike trail which provides superb views over parts of the Spey Valley. Tough climbing in parts and free flowing descents.
The Lecht Ski Centre
During the summer the Lecht offers two mountain bike tracks; a difficult red trail and a moderate blue. And, there is no need to cycle to the top of each trail, simply hook your bike onto the chairlift and enjoy the ride.
Mountain Biking Books
Scotland Mountain Biking:
The Wild Trails
Above books available from Amazon