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Ooft. Mount Keen by 29er

By Fiona Outdoors/Russell

Friends said they had done it. The route and map details certainly suggested it would be possible. So my partner Gordie and I thought we’d give it a go on our On-One Lurcher Carbon 29ers.

The goal was to ride to the top of the Scottish mountain known as Mount Keen.

Mount Keen has an elevation of 939m and is one of Scotland’s 282 Munros. Munros, if you don’t know, are the Scottish mountains with a summit of more than 3,000ft (914m).

Munro baggers are people who hike Munros and tick them off with the hope of completing (correct spelling, in this sense) the full round.

While some Munros are steep, tricky, exposed and entirely non-rideable, others present a fairly good path and a gradient that is manageable on two wheels. Of course, it depends on your riding skills and mine are not that brilliant.

Gordie’s are better and there are some people who would say that a ride up Mount Keen is easy. If they can ride the last summit section of huge boulders then I am very impressed but I bet there are Danny MacAskill-type people that can!

So the bike ride from Glen Esk, in Angus, to the top of Mount Keen and back is around 10 miles. That’s not a long bike ride, even by mountain biking standards.

Total height gain is around 800m and in sections the up is very steep and rocky.

To start with, however, the trail is easy going and very rideable. It climbs gently uphill through stunning heather-clad moorlands with fabulous views all around.

We chose to ride with clip-in pedals and for the first half an hour I thoroughly enjoyed the outing. Brilliantly, we also passed plenty of walkers who had chosen the slower route to the top on foot.

But then came the steeper zig zag section. We had been warned but we hadn’t realised quite how long this section would be. While Gordie continued to ride slowly and skilfully uphill I was forced off my bike.

I was wondering if there was any merit at all in the bike carrying since we could have to carry the 29ers back off the summit, however Gordie was insistent that it would make a great photograph to have two On-One bikes at the top of a mountain. It does!

After a bite to eat and a short rest we turned around to enjoy the descent. And what an incredible descent. It had taken around two hours to get to the top while the ride down was less than 40 minutes.

The sandy path at first was easily rideable on the downhill and even the rocky sections were negotiable as we allowed gravity to takes us back to the glen. Being on a 29er makes going over rocks a pleasure, even if you are a scaredy cat rider like me!

There were a few more noticeable ups and downs on the ride back through the glen but nothing challenging and before we could quite believe it we were back at the start.

If you like your off-road mountain biking to be a bit different and you love a goal, Mount Keen is definitely one to try. See Walk Highlands Mount Keen for the route.

6 October 2014


  • David C
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    Top effort - also if you fancy a loop rather than an out and a back try the Fungle and Mounth roads loop... Prof Google will oblige. Some of the best big country riding in Scotland.

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