Aviemore-Kingussie circuit, Scottish Highlands by Karen Darke

Ride level Experienced cyclist
Distance 30 mi / 48 km
Type of bicycle Road bike
Traffic free
Circular route
Loch Insh

Paralympian gold medal hand cyclist and member of the Adventure Syndicate, Karen Darke heads into the cycling nirvana that is Aviemore.

Since breaking my back and becoming a handbiker, I am constantly looking for ways to feel close to nature and mountains as an antidote to not being able to walk in them. Aviemore is a mountain-lovers, mountain-biking hub, but the road biking is pretty special too.

I usually park and start at the Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre at Inverdruie, the lure of the café there sufficiently tempting to begin and end a ride. The B970 leads south undulating through pretty woodland along the valley side. There is the option of a side-trip to or around the beautiful Loch an Eilean and the Caledonian Forest that surrounds it, and you might want to make a ride around the loch your daytrip itself. The trail that circumnavigates the water isn’t asphalt but is good enough for a road bike if your tyres aren’t too slick, though sandy inclines and the narrow bridge make it more challenging, especially for a solo handbiker – best to head around the loch clockwise. In summer you might fancy a dip in the loch or a swim to the ruined castle on the island.

My usual circuit, though, is to continue south past Loch an Eilean, towards Loch Insh – potentially another café stop, or for watersports activities on the loch - and across the River Feshie. A sidetrip up Glen Feshie is also an option. The road continues to higher ground above the floodplain of the River Spey, then drops to pass by the ruins of the Ruthven Barracks that stand prominently overlooking Insh Marshes with wide views over the Spey Valley. Ride on to Kingussie with its host of services should you need them, and turn right to loop back on the B9152, passing by the Highland Wildlife Park on route to Kincraig and finally Aviemore. The ride home is quicker than the ride out, the surface good and the gradients easy, with views to your right of the high Cairngorm summits. Whilst the A9 attracts the bulk of traffic, there is a little more on this road than the outward ride, but the option exists to turn right in Kincraig back to Loch Insh and then to re-trace the quieter lane back to Inverdruie from there.