This route starts in Peterculter and leads into open Aberdeenshire countryside with big skies, a castle, Scots Pine woods and views of the Hill of Fare. This may be the last weekend that National Trust for Scotland (NTS) properties are closed, so it takes the opportunity to ride some of their single track while it is relatively quiet.
The route description starts at the small Millside Car Park in Peterculter. However, this might be busy so I have pointed out car parking spots around the loop for easier parking, or better still join the route by bike from town on routes posted earlier - Den of Cults and Leuchars Moss.
From the carpark head west on the main road, over a bridge crossing the Culter Burn. Pass a path to the war memorial, and take the first opportunity to enter woods, Newmillhill Plantation, on the right from a small layby (parking). There is a steep climb through high bracken to the crest of the hill, then follow the path around the perimeter of the woods.
The riding here is fun and straight forward, although there are fallen branches across the path and raised roots. A front wheel lift will maintain flow over these obstacles. On a full suspension mountain bike, simply bouncing down then up on your suspension (called unweighting) is often enough to skim over these obstacles. For hardtails, or larger obstacles, as well as up and down, move your weight quickly down and then back to raise the frontwheel, then up and forward to unweight the back wheel. Timing is everything - don't try to jump it just roll over it gently. Pulling on the handlebars may lift the frontwheel, but your full weight is on the wheels and you will hit the obstacle hard.
The trail leads back to the road, at a small car park (parking), follow the road left past a small gate house, then take a right at the end of the gatehouse's garden on to an overgrown drive way. Follow this to the entrance to Drum Castle. Take a path to the right of the drive, and follow this past the castle, take a right immediately after the play area (this are may be busy, even if the castle is closed). Head north through the woods, taking a left at every fork, walk across a stream, and a bar-gate to the main deer gate on the road (some parking in the area).
Drum Castle was gifted to the National Trust in 1976, after 650 years as the seat of the Clan Irvine, by Mr H.Q. Forbes Irvine the 24th Laird (and Laird of Schivas near Ellon). The 24th Laird studied forestry at Aberdeen University, became a coffee planter in Kenya, fought during the Second World War in Abissynia, was a county councillor for Drumoak and a member of the Company of Archers, the Queen's bodyguard in Scotland.
From the gate turn left, and take the track at the right fork. Follow the track past houses and forestry to a road then turn right. Cross the Gormack Burn, and take a track on the right past some houses, after a double bend (straight on leads to Flora's Cafe with some parking). Join a road again and head east, cross the crossroads, then take a left towards the woods. Just before the house take a narrow path to the right around the edge of the woods, and emerge on a road. Turn right. When the road reaches another wood, go through it, then head north then east again along an overgrown field margin (from the Leuchar Moss Route). This brings you to a bridge over the Leuchar Burn. Just before the bridge turn right on to a track and follow this round a steading and small field, on to a fenced path heading south. This path joins a farm road, and eventually, passes Lin Moor School. Continue south, there is a path on the right through the woods, until the t-junction. Take a left and follow the path over the Culter Burn, turn right after a line of trees, before the playing fields, and follow the path around to the main road. Turn right and make your way back to the Millside Car Park.
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