At the start of March 2023, I bikepacked from Aviemore to Kingussie, via Boat of Garten, Nethy Bridge, Abernethy Forest, Ryvoan Bothy, then Kincraig and Kingussie.

Below you’ll find the routes I took, the kit I used and some musings on the ride itself.

Day 1 began with a train journey from Edinburgh to Aviemore. For those familiar with Scotrail, and more importantly, travelling with bikes aboard Scotrail, you’ll know that the journey will live or die by the attitude of the member of Scotrail staff. Cycling friendly staff – you’ll have a smooth journey. If not, you won’t. Simple as that. In this case – the guard seemed less than friendly, insisting that I remove my bar bag from the bike as it was too wide. Even although, it wasn’t as wide as my bars. Whatever dude! Happy to oblidge!

The direct train from Edinburgh landed us in Aviemore at around 1230 – just in time for a lunch stop at the local supermarket. Right away I noticed how cold it was, this set the general tone for the rest of the trip – and later I was reminded of how many more calories your body consumes just trying to stay warm.

We headed out on some fantastic cycle paths steadily climbing through Boat of Garten, Nethy Bridge and then eventually out into what started to feel like wilderness. This was why we were here. That feeling of silence, and aloneness that Scotland can deliver. Quite magickal.

Day 1 ended with our arrival at Ryvoan Bothy. To our surprise, there was a guy (Ed) camping outside, despite the temperature dropping to well below zero. Ryvoan proved to be a great overnight spot – firewood was provided by the estate, but we have carried some of our own in aswell, incase there wasn’t any available when we arrived. We knew it was going to be cold.

Later in the evening – again to our huge surprise – the Northern Lights put on a display. Not all that much visible to the naked eye, however, our phones caught the moment nicely.

Day 2 started off with a sharp frost – it really was very cold indeed. Cold enough that lighters wouldn’t work without being warmed in a pocket first, and the decision to buy cheaper camping fuel was being regretted by some. The ride down into Rothiemurchus demanded concentration. Proper mountain biking always focuses the mind – forcing you to concentrate on what is directly in front of you on the trail. The early(ish) start and the cold temperatures only added to the adventurous feeling of the place.

That said – breakfast was obtained at the lovely Barn at Rothiemurchus. A great place to stop, however, you’ll not get much change from a tenner for a filled roll and a coffee. Captive market it would seem.

From The Barn, it was an easy few kilometres on undulating cycle path towards Kingussie and the train home. This time, the train guard was much more accommodating encouraging us to ‘bring those big bikes onboard’! Fantastic.