Lecht Road (SW #66) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

1.4
FIETS
2.6 mi
DISTANCE
917 ft
GAINED
5.6 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

Climbing Lecht Road by bike is an exceptional experience. This is #66 on Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs (Britain) list and he writes that it is "a true monster of a climb through the heart of the Cairngorms, the road up to the Lecht Ski Centre is a simply stunning ride."  
5.6% average grade (9.3% climb only - there is a 0.4 km -5.4% descent and a 0.7 at -3.27% descent on the climb).  28% of the "climb" is a descent, 18% is at 0-5%, 19% is at 5-10%, 26% is at 10-15%, and 9% is at 15-20%.  The steepest 500 meters is 14.7%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Wide two lane highway in good condition with no shoulder.

Traffic:  Light.

Parking:  Ask to park at the John Duffy Lodge at the start of the climb (Map; Street View) or Corgarff Viewpoint, 850 meters up the road from the start (Map). 
Provisions:  If open, the Lecht Ski Lodge at the finish of the climb.  Otherwise, Ballater 25 km south (Map).  
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
This is #66 on the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Britain and is one of seven climbs in the Scotland section. Use the “Routes in Area” button on the menu bar to see other bike climbs in the region.  

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - large tablet-shaped stone with poem carved into it, reading "As Still Skies or Storms Unfold", grey skies in background, Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs #66 logo in corner

Poem on a stone at 800m.    

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - photo collage, road sign for 20% grade, road sign for sharp turn in road, with sticker on it saying "Send It," aerial view of narrow roadway climbing up center of a reddish-brown hillside, sign for Adventure Activity Centre                                       

This 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs climb easily gets a 10/10 for difficulty.  Simon Warren writes of this climb, “a true monster of a climb through the heart of the Cairngorms, the road up to Lecht Ski Centre is a simply stunning ride.”  Lect Ski Resort boasts the highest roadside bar in Scotland.

This Aberdeenshire County climb starts out with a bang -- 13.3% for the first 1.1 kilometers.  That steep start is followed by a 460m 4.6% descent.  We roll through this climb in fits and starts -- 1.4 kilometers is next at a healthy 8% followed by the second descent of the climb at -3.3% for 700m, ending with a slight 4.5% pitch for 300m to the top of the climb.  

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - looking down an open roadway along the crestline of hills, grey skies, one car in distance ascending road

Second big descent begins at km 3.1.

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - different angles of large stone with holes drilled into it and poem etched into it, reads in part "As still skies or storms unfold" and "take a moment to behold" "before you go"

This stone is called “A Moment in Time” and was created to provide a telescopic view of Corgarff Castle.

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland- green pastureland with two large oak trees, white castle building in background, grey skies

Climb begins near the road to Corgarff Castle

Corgarff Castle is located by Lecht Road in Aberdeenshire, northeast Scotland.  The castle was built in the mid sixteenth century by the Forbes of Towie, and was shortly thereafter burned by Adam Gordon of Auchindoun, killing Lady Forbes, along with her children and numerous others.  The castle was rebuilt after the Jacobite risings, at which point a “detachment of government troops were stationed there, on the military road from Braemar Castle to Fort George, Inverness.”  The castle continued to be used for military purposes as late as the early 1830s, after which time the tower was used as a distillery and living space for members of the local workforce.  In 1961 ownership of the castle was given to the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, and is now in the care of the Historic Environment of Scotland, who keeps the castle open to the public.  It is now designated as an ancient monument. You can read more about the history of the Corgarff Castle here.

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - sign for Lecht Adventure Activity Center

Climb finishes adjacent to the Lecht Ski Centre, and Scotland’s highest roadside bar.

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - bike leaning against sign saying "Welcome to Moray Malt Whisky Country" and "Historic Banffshire", PJAMM cycling jersey draped over bike

Moray is one of the 32 Local Government council areas of Scotland. It lies in the north-east of the country, with coastline on the Moray Firth, and borders the council areas of Aberdeenshire and Highland.  

Steepest ½ kilometer begins at 100m (14.7%)

Using Simon Warren’s UK bike climbing guide, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, The Guardian writes of this climb:

“A true monster of a climb through the heart of the Cairngorms, the road up to the Lecht Ski Centre is a simply stunning ride. You start your ascent from the beautiful Corgarff castle and straight away you hit 20% slopes – rough, relentlessly steep and twisting a little. Pass through the large orange gates used to close the road in winter – proof, if you hadn't twigged already, that you're heading into serious country. After an age on the opening steep gradient the road banks right to plateau before a brief downhill. What comes next will take your breath away. There, in front of you, painted on to the side of the mountain and looking like a giant flight of stairs, lies the rest of the climb. A short flat section ramps up hard, then almost levels before ramping hard again. Eventually you'll bend around to the left and the battered, rugged road levels for good. In front of you is the Alpine-style Ski Centre, a simply awesome ride.”

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - aerial view of road down center of hillside, grey skies, rolling brownish green hills and pastureland

The climb is entirely within Cairngorms National Park, a 453,000 hectares (1,119,387 acres) park that was established in 2003.  Cairngorms NP is one of two national parks established by the Scottish Parliament (the other being Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, est. 2002).  Cairngorms NP covers the Cairngorms mountains and surrounding hills, and is the largest national park in Britain:

“The Cairngorm Mountains are a spectacular landscape, similar in appearance to the Hardangervidda National Park of Norway in having a large upland plateau. While the Hardangervidda National Park is recognised as a Category 2 national park under the IUCN categories (no activity that has a lasting impact on the natural environment is permitted) the Cairngorm National Park is a Category 5 protected landscape (sustainable development area) that has farmed and managed landscapes in which tourism is encouraged. Aviemore is a busy and popular holiday destination. The Highland Wildlife Park and Dalwhinnie distillery also lie within the National Park. In 2015, 53 km (33 mi) of the 132 kV power line in the middle of the park was taken down, while another section along the edge of the park was upgraded to 400 kV” (Cairngorms National Park).

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - roadway through pastureland following the sloping of the hillsides, grey skies and lots of cloud coverage


A skiing and winter sports industry is concentrated in the Cairngorms, with three of Scotland's five resorts situated here. They are the Cairn Gorm Ski Centre, Glenshee Ski Centre and The Lecht Ski Centre.

The Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail is located near Feshiebridge. This short trail through the woods features a sculptures created by Frank Bruce between 1965 and 2009.

Before the national park was established in 2003, Scottish Natural Heritage conducted a consultation exercise, considering the boundary and the powers and structure of the new park authority.  One option presented for the area included Tomatin, Blair Atholl, Aboyne and Glen Shee, making the park twice as big as the Lake District National Park.[citation needed] The area finally chosen was smaller than expected, but still the largest in Britain. It involved the boundary areas of Carrbridge, Laggan, Dalwhinnie, Grantown-on-Spey and Ballater. Many groups and local communities felt that a large area of highland Perth and Kinross should form part of the park and carried out a sustained campaign.[citation needed]

On 13 March 2008 Michael Russell announced that the National Park would be extended to take in Blair Atholl and Spittal of Glenshee. There was also controversy surrounding the construction of the funicular Cairngorm Mountain Railway on Cairn Gorm, a scheme supported by the new National Park Authority. Supporters of the scheme claimed that it would bring in valuable tourist income, whilst opponents argued that such a development was unsuitable for a protected area. To reduce erosion, the railway operates a "closed scheme" and only allows skiers (in season) out of the upper Ptarmigan station.[citation needed]

On 4 October 2010 the Park extended into Highland Perthshire and Glenshee” (
Cairngorms National Park).

Cycling Lecht Road, Scotland - road sign on side of road stating "Turning Area for Gritters No Parking", trees in green grass

Cycling Uphill says of the Lecht Road climb:

“The Lecht is a tough climb from Cockbridge to the ski resort of Lecht. The climb is hardest at the start with a couple of mini hairpins taking you up a steep section which is over 20% in places. After this difficult start, there is a mini descent before, the climb picks up again. It is not as steep as the start, though there are still a few steep parts. As you near the summit the worst is over because there is another mini descent before a gradual ascent to the summit.”