A moderately difficult mountain bike route with some great scenery (circular).
There are plenty of pubs and tea rooms in Aboyne which is quite near the foot of Glen Tanar. On the other side, at Glen Esk, there is a tea room half way down the glen, and lots of eating places, plus B&Bs and hotels in Edzell, it's a long way back to the start by road!
Glen Tanar is one of a number of side valleys of the River Dee where the ancient Scots pinewoods are preserved. The visitor centre has a permanent display which explains the history, management and wildlife of the Estate. The only bird which is found here and nowhere else apart from Scotland is the Scottish crossbill. It is sometimes called the 'Scottish parrot' because of its crossed mandibles, which it uses to prise open the scales of the Scots pine's cones. The seeds inside form the mainstay of its diet.
Also associated with the pinewoods are red squirrel mice and voles, plus the pine marten which eats red squirrels. Larger mammals include the wild cat, badger, fox, roe deer and red deer. Deer browsing on Scots pine seedlings have prevented the regeneration of the native pinewoods throughout the Highlands.
Long ago the woods supported a wider range of large animals, including the wild boar, beaver, lynx, moose, brown bear and the wolf, but in Scotland these have all gone - the wolf was the last to disappear, the last one was shot in 1743. The pinewoods of the Highlands have become the subject of regeneration programmes, and the future prospects for this unique part of Scotland's natural heritage now look good.
BLACK MOSS ROUTE
9 miles (or 16 miles circular on B976)
Start at Tombae on the B976, this is opposite the junction of the A97 and A93 on the other side of the River Dee. The track passes a farm, and climbs south-west, rising steeply at times. The ascent is continuous at first with a fairly bumpy surface. There are good views behind you of Loch Kinord across the Dee, so stop and have a look occasionally. There is a shallow descent across Black Moss then another steep climb to 540m. At this point Mount Keen and Glen Tanar become visible. A fast descent follows, this is difficult in places owing to water erosion but is still bikeable. At the foot of the hill turn left at a T junction to go down the glen. A mile after this there is another junction nearer the river, continue down the glen towards the trees. This is a gradual descent, sometimes with gravel and sand surfaces ending at Glen Tanar Visitor Centre.
ENTERING GLEN TANAR
To do the route in a clockwise direction (or just explore the glen).
Glen Tanar is south-west of Aboyne off the A93. Follow the B976 south of the River Dee. The Glen Tanar road starts by a bridge with an adjacent tower and is clearly signposted. Continue up passing a forest car park, then on to a set of farm buildings in Scottish baronial style. Turn right here following the right of way sign round the farm. Pass a sign saying: 'Ca Canny Doon the Brae', and you are in the forest. There is little danger of getting lost in the forest as returning to the river will take you to the exit. If you meet any horse riders stop to let them pass.
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