Voted as “Best Destination in the UK” by MBR magazine (June‘08), Highland Wildcat offers trails for all abilities that link directly to Golspie village and its local services. Our reputation is built on the quality of purpose-built trail, particularly the black and red routes which have been constructed on the 1400’ Ben Bhraggie. At the top of this mountain is the massive monument to the 1st Duke of Sutherland; infamous for evicting occupiers of the lands of Sutherland at the time of “The Clearances” in the mid-1800s. This monument is a landmark that marks the highest point on the trails! From this point there is the longest singletrack descent in the UK at around 7000m trail leading directly to the Rhives car park (from where it started). The natural slab rock and sandstone aggregate provide all-weather surfaces for cycling although fair conditions usually prevail in this coastal margin of the Moray Firth.
The trails have been designed with everyone in mind and are “stacked” such that the more difficult routes can only be reached by cycling up through the easier sections. Families of mixed ability and novice riders may find it easier to start from the Big Burn car park just outside the village to the north. From here there is the option of going via Big Burn mixed woodlands towards Ben Bhraggie on a blue graded route or otherwise into Dunrobin Wood on an easy green route on low ground, joining paths and tracks in the wider countryside or coast. For inexperienced riders keen to reach the summit of “The Ben”, there is a double track all the way from the blue trail that leads off at the crossroads in the forest. Please take care of changeable weather conditions, ride safely and responsibly (showing respect for other users) and read the following grading summary to ensure that you choose a route that matches your ability. The trails are waymarked and are signed to ensure that you are aware of the grade of trail chosen. The more difficult features will have an easier escape route or option to allow skills development, or just an easier ride!
This rating system is based on the observation and skills of experienced trail managers and riders. You need to consider both the technical information and the fitness levels required to enjoy your ride experience. If you are new to mountain biking, be aware of the higher demands of these trails and ride within your ability. Other factors such as weather, fatigue, peer pressure and equipment can change and increase the difficulty / grade of a trail quickly and often dramatically. If you feel tired, rest. Respect the weather conditions. Know your limits. Stay safe!
EASY : Difficulty Level 1
For Beginner / novice / family cyclists and suitable for most people in good health.
No special skills are required. Most bikes and hybrids. Some green routes can take trailers. Relatively flat and wide. Hardened or surfaced. Railtrails, towpaths, reservoir trails, estate or forestry vehicle tracks. Climbs and descents are mostly shallow. The trail surface may be loose, uneven or muddy at times. May include short singletrack style sections.
MODERATE : Difficulty Level 1 - 2
For intermediate level cyclist / mountain bikers with basic- off road riding skills and a good standard of fitness can help.
Suitable for mountain bikes or hybrids. As ‘Green’ plus specially constructed bike trails mostly 1 metre+ wide. Firm and stable. Bridleways, byways and unsurfaced unclassified roads. Most gradients are moderate but may include short steep sections. Small unavoidable obstacles, such as roots and rock, may be present.
DIFFICULT : Difficulty Level 2 - 3
For proficient mountain bikers with good off- road riding skills where a higher level of fitness and stamina is required.
Suitable for better quality off-road mountain bikes. Mostly stable, some variability. Width from 0.4 metre, singletrack may or may not be surfaced. A wide range of steeper, tougher climbs and descents of a challenging nature. Unavoidable berms, boardwalks, large stones, moderate steps, dropoffs, cambers, and water crossings may all be present.
SEVERE : Difficulty Level 3 - 4
For expert mountain bike riders, used to physically demanding routes. Riders should be of a high technical ability and able to undertake skilled bike control, therefore, suitable for very active people used to prolonged activity with good technical skills.
Good quality mountain bikes. As ‘Red’ but with an expectation of greater challenge and continuous difficulty. May include unpredictable constructed and natural features, some very severe in nature. Unavoidable obstacles including large steps, drop off’s, rock causeways and ’north shore’ timber style trail, some with high levels of exposure. Prolonged steep, loose and or rocky surfaces.
A photograph taken at the brow of a hill depicitng a cyclist at the point where the track falls dramatically away. Beyond him, in the far distance only the clear, rich blue of the sea. The images gives the impression of the cyclist entering the unknown.
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A photograph depicting a cyclist passing between two large standing stones. One of the many natural obstacles that line the routes of the various trails.
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A dramatic, panoramic photograph depicting the sweeping view from the Ben Brhaggie monument on the left of picture across farmland and forestry as the hill sweeps away toward the sea. The panoram is such that the curvature of the earth is implied from the image.
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