Monymusk, Whitelady Hill, Scare Woods and Bennachie Bike Bothy
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
This route has a mix of technical riding and shows off the great history in the area. It is written for an intermediate rider on a mountain bike, but I've added alternatives for beginners on less capable bikes.
Start from Monymusk village square, or the carpark beside the play ground opposite the square. Exit the playground by the far, right-hand corner, with a squeeze behind the wall, to reach the drive to the castle (often the main gate is closed). At the river turn left and follow the track to the main road that runs north from Monymusk. You can short cut straight to here along the road from the start but you miss a view of Bennachie.
Just after a sweeping bend in the road take a track behind a house on the left. At the top of the hill, take the steep, narrow path that runs straight on. This is a challenging section, and may require a push up. Continue up on the left from the carpark, climbing on a fire road. Then enjoy the sweeping downhill with views over Monymusk. Keep a lookout for a steep single path through the woods on your right at a kink in the fire road, a short way after the main fire road junction. (If you would prefer to miss this climb and the rocky descent then carry on along the fire road until you re-join the route). Take the path up on to the White Lady Hill, again this is a steep climb but rideable - just take your time. Catch your breath at the top in preparation for another tough climb up to your left, again requiring a push in places.
From the top of the hill follow the rough, rocky, single track along the crest of White Lady Hill. There are fantastic views toward Lochnagar from the top. The riding is over rough boulder-strewn trail. There is no obvious line and its easy to get bounced off course. Good tips for riding this sort of trail are to look well ahead, commit to your chosen line and stay loose. Your bike is very capable, so let it move around, by keeping your elbows, shoulders and knee joint supple, and let it carry you over the rough sections. Another key tip, don't brake on the really rough sections, brake before and after - carrying momentum will help you over obstacles.
The single track on White Lady Hill ends on a fire road. Turn left here, along undulating track until you reach a junction with a grassy, muddy path joining from the right at a tight angle. Follow the path, dropping down over steeper ground to the Quarry.
There has been a quarry on this site since the 1500s, but the flooded quarry, the remains of a boiler house, cranes and narrow gauge railway date from the 1850s. Stone from here and Kemnay Quarry were used to build Holburn Viaduct in Aberdeen, buildings on Princes Street, Edinburgh, the Forth bridge and the London Cenotaph.
Follow the track from the quarry downhill and left, through the quarry workers buildings, to a main road. Turn left on the road and carefully, make your way around two bends to a layby on the left. Stop here. A few metres further up the road on the right is an indistinct path, through trees, down the verge. Once you have spotted the path, send one rider across, to check oncoming traffic, before crossing over with a group.
The riding now is on forest trails, often with narrow gaps between trees and muddy sections. Follow the trail to the right, up the hillside opposite, and a rolling trail to eventually cross a stream. Cross confidently, getting wet feet to do so safely, and follow a wall line to another quarry and a fire road..
Follow a fire road away from the quarry (west, right turn), and follow, this keeping left, up a hill until the fire road narrows to a single track path along the south-eastern edge of Scare Woods. There are a few routes through the woods to explore. Our route follows the obvious path close to the wood's edge, then drops down on to a fire road that runs through the middle of Scare Woods (The alternative route through Scare Woods is on this fire road. Turn left onto it at the quarry, and take the right then left forks to re-join the route at the farm gate). At the junction between the path and the fire road turn right, and follow this east as it becomes wider and better made, eventually going through a gate and by some farm buildings. This road brings you to the edge of the Cluny Castle Policy,
Follow the the wall of the castle grounds, anti-clockwise, on the road, then on a minor road back toward Monymusk. This road reaches the B933. Turn right, then almost immediately left past a large barn, and on to the river. This route provides a great view of the House of Monymusk.
Re-trace your steps back to the village square and take a trip down to the local bike Bennachie Bike Bothy. Clark, the owner, and Dave will sort you out with great advice and maintenance.
The described route is 23.7km long with 518m of climbing. The route is Macdui Bike Adventures Strava Routes.