Sun’s Out, Bikes Out

Alamy Stock Photo ©

As the nights are growing lighter, enjoy getting the hills to yourself on some of these amazing cycle routes…


The clocks have jumped forwards and finally there’s a substantial amount of usable light left for a cycle at the end of the working day.

Evening rides are proper micro-adventures. It can be a rush to get out and remember all the right gear, but nothing clears your head after a busy day like a pedal out. Mid-week evenings are off-peak time in the hills and the weather isn’t too hot or too cold. Plus you’re keeping yourself fit for the long summer days ahead.

No matter where you are in Scotland, you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from the countryside.

From Dundee, there are a few excellent options. Tentsmuir is good for all abilities and drains well in poor weather thanks to its sandy soil. North Ballo Hill, just off the Coupar Angus road at Tullybaccart, offers a growing network of steeper trails.

Somewhere in between the two, lies Auchterhouse, Balluderon and Craigowl hills – the three peaks at the eastern end of the Sidlaw range. They sit
just a few miles behind Dundee, with Craigowl’s tall masts visible when heading towards the city from any direction.

In less than 25 minutes’ drive from almost anywhere in Dundee you can be at the Balkello Community Woodland car park at the foot of the Sidlaws. Now the clocks are on BST, the car park stays open until 10pm.

Being so close to the city, these particular hills can get busy at the weekends with walkers during the day, so evenings are the perfect time to strike.
Unfortunately, not all the visitors are tidy, so take a rucksack or waist pack with a bit of room and squeeze in the odd plastic bottle or any other rubbish you find lying around.

Head north-west out of the car park around the gate, and continue in that direction, up and over a stone wall to cruise down to the bottom of Auchterhouse Hill.
Climb around the west side, and come back on yourself to summit it. There’s only a handful of paths up here, so it’s hard to get lost, and once you’ve gained the ridgeline you can always see where you are.

The views from Auchterhouse are spectacular – Pentlands to the south, Schiehallion to the west and right up into the Angus glens away to the north.

Drop down to the bottom of Balluderon, cycle round the northern back of it on a fine single-track path that comes up just east of the trig point. Either summit it before descending, or add on a trip up and down Craigowl for the finest view of all three peaks, though it does add on a good 30-45 minutes.

And if you fancy making it a proper adventure, carry a bivvy bag and spend the night on the little flat spot just metres north below the top of Auchterhouse Hill.




Other Great Rides

▲ Dumyat
This popular wee hill above Bridge of Allan is packed at the weekends, so it’s a lot more enjoyable on a week night. Ride up from Bridge of Allan, before a linear climb and descent to-and-from the summit and back through Mine Woods.

▲ Carron Valley
It’s a wee drive for anyone who doesn’t live in Denny, near Falkirk, but it’s a brilliant venue for evening rides. Solid stone trails with no nasty surprises make for stress-free nights out.

▲ Kirkhill
Aberdeen’s local hill is laced with short, fun trails. Some of the trails really hold on to their mud, though, so it’s best when on drier days.

▲ Ladybank Woods
There are trails either side of the A92 near Cupar, Fife. A touch more interesting than Tentsmuir, there are more single track and more roots. Park off the main road to the left of the golf course.


Tick Season

Last year, the ticks began appearing as early as February, so the season seems to be extending. Check your skin post-ride after a shower. Annoyingly, with the changing climate, ticks now seem to be an even more regular occurrence.