Day 2: Tomintoul to Braemar

Following a breakfast roll and coffee at the Old Firestation Tea Room, we had to work out the first challenge of the day: where do you get new biking shoes from ? With the bike shop at the Glenlivit Trail centre long closed, the nearest bike shop was Grantown-on-Spey – a mere 28 miles round trip on tarmac. Buses seem to only run twice a week there and the nearest taxi was some chap in Grantown-on-Spey (who if the rumours are true had fleeced some old dear the previous month).  

Opposite the Firestation was Spindrift. . A long shot – but we wondered if they sold trainers ? Well would you know it – they did. So that was the answer: one foot in a cleated shoe, one in a new walking trainer. Sorted. 

Heading out of Tomintoul we followed the river for miles, ascending gradually, passing the most amazingly restored house in the middle of nowhere, passed some lochans, hung a right, down the hill, over a bridge and then a sharp right on a good trail leading down to a very new looking wooden cabin (not on the trail description) with a natural roof. It was here that we started the long climb up to the highest point on the circuit. It was one of those ascents that you have to get your head down, pick off the route 10m at a time, and grind it out.

The reward being a spectacular view and a long long descent down to the entrance to the Invercauld estate.  A right turn and a bit of tarmac passing Braemar Castle and we headed to Braemar Mountain Sports for a late lunch and cup of tea. 

Accommodation for the night in Braemer was Rucksacks.  

And what a place this is. The owner could not have been nicer. The heating was on, the dehumidifiers sorted for us in the drying room and plenty of instructions on where to eat. When we left the hostel next morning to pay our £19 each for the night we gave her £60 and told her not to worry about the change (three times in fact). She was having none of it and went off to find us £3. 

It was Saturday night and here’s us thinking we could just nip into the Fife Arms and get some food. No chance. Fully booked. 

So we headed to the Braemar Lodge Hotel  for a very good meal, good beer, good service and then back to the Fife Arms to sit under the flying stag for a single malt to finish the day off. 

Distance : 39.5km

Ascent : 772m

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