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Walking and mountain biking across granite hilltop trails
Pitfichie’s trails lead through varied forest and across open hill tops, with wide views of the Vale of Alford and Bennachie. Mountain bikers can find exciting rides through real countryside on a red-grade trail across granite hill tops, as well as a challenging downhill route.
Cairn William Trail
A long circuit around the foot of Cairn William, passing Whitehills Stone Circle and providing great views of Bennachie and the Vale of Alford. Suitable on foot, bike or horseback.
Long steep slopes. Mostly wide and firm gravel surface, with some grassy sections. Includes exposed tree roots and muddy sections.
Allow 7½ hours
This trail takes you all the way round Cairn William and it’s great for runners, mountain bikers, horse riders and walkers who want a good workout. For a shorter route, try just going to the Whitehills stone circle, about a quarter of an hour from the car park: you’ll still find a grand view.
On the way, look out for some of the forest’s wildlife: you might spot, coal tits, goldcrests, Scottish crossbills or long tail tits. Ospreys often fly overhead in the summer: they nest close to the River Don.
Mountain biking trails
Granite Top trail
Fast singletrack with some great natural rock features.
Branching off the Cairn William Trail, you’re soon tackling a challenging climb with some rocky obstacles. From the top of the hill there’s a superb panorama over the surrounding countryside: a perfect place for a breather on a summer’s evening.
After that you’ll need to tread carefully on The Devil’s Staircase – a lively technical descent with some tight switchbacks and a few small drops. Then you can drop back down to the Cairn William Trail, or head up and over Pitfichie Hill to find the Downhill Trail.
This is a red grade trail that’s suitable for good mountain bikers. Remember to ride only in the direction of the arrows, from west to east.
The trail branches off the Cairn William Trail near the King’s Stane. Watch for marker post number 16.
Pitfichie Downhill trail
Championship-grade downhill action.
The Scottish Downhill Association have often run their Championship Series here – and it’s easy to see why. First up, there’s a fast section over granite slabs and jumps, then an awesome drop and a plunge through the forest on a rough trail of roots and rocks. The lower section’s a bit smoother, with more drops and a big step near the finish. Two hundred metres of descent, adrenaline pumping all the way! It’s a long climb to get back to the start, but well worth it.
The trail is recommended for expert downhill mountain bikers only, with a high quality downhill machine. It would be dangerous for walkers or horse riders to use it.
The Downhill Trail starts from the summit of Pitfichie Hill. Follow the Cairn William and Granite Top Trails to get there.
Facilities & access
The nearest public toilets are in Alford. There are place to eat in Monymusk and Alford.
The entrance to Pitfichie forest is on the north side of the B993 between Monymusk and Tillyfourie. Look for the turn-off signed for 'Pitfichie Forest cycle trails'.
AB51 7SS is the nearest postcode. If searching by name, don't confuse the forest with the small hamlet of Pitfichie which is 3½ miles away.
Buses between Monymusk and Alford pass close to Pitfichie. Plan your journey at Traveline Scotland.
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