Probably the highest place you can ride a bike in Scotland. Not a circular route.
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.
ENTERING THE FOREST
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.
CLIMBING THE HILL
Via Mount Keen to Glen Esk (14 miles)
Mount Keen is the most easterly of all the Scottish Munros (hills over 3000 feet), and one of the most solitary. This is a hard ride with a lot of climb. Warm waterproof clothing, a 1:50,000 O.S. map and a compass is essential. Don't forget to take enough food. It is possible to bike the whole thing but you need to be fit. Cycling on your own is not a good idea. Start in the forest as described then continue up the Water of Tanar to where the glen becomes steep sided and narrow. At this point turn south towards Mount Keen, crossing the burn. The track continues for a little further then curves round to the west. Leave it here and take the footpath towards the summit, passing to the west of some crags. You will have to walk here as it is quite rocky. After a further climb the path branches in two, the left fork leading to the summit of the mountain. Take the right fork, this section is just bikeable, and is a gentle ascent, a flat section, then a gradual descent to a track leading into Glen Mark. Descend down Glen Mark to the public road in Glen Esk.
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