Cairn O' Mount (SW #64) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

2.1 mi
1,038 ft
9.5 %



Cairn O'Mount (also known as Cairn O'Mounth) is a steep climb in Caimbgorms National Park and Grampian Mountains in central Scotland. This one is listed at #64 of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in Britain. There are no other GCC's in the vicinity. The route has been used by armies since the 11th century.  
9.4% average grade - 49% of the climb is at 5-10% and 50% is at 10-15%.  The steepest 500 meters is 12.6%.

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Roadway:  Two lane highway in excellent condition.

Traffic:  Mild.

Parking:  At the car park near the giant cairn at the top of the climb (then ride down and come back up the climb), or at the start of the climb - MapStreet View
Provisions:  Either at Clatterin Brig Restaurant at climb start (high reviews - Google Reviews + Map).  
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This is 64 on the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Britain, and is one of seven climbs in the Scotland section of the book.  See also PJAMM's Scotland climb page

Use the “Routes in Area” button on the menu bar to see other bike climbs in the region.  



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Old ruins 800 meters from start              

Cairn O’ Mount is a short (3.3 km) climb that averages 9.4%.  The crux of this one is 200 meters at 13.7% beginning at km 2.8.  Unfortunately, on the day we visited western Scotland, the road was closed half-way up the climb and, while we have been able to beg, bribe, sneak through many obstacles on our 4 ½ month European cycling trip, we sadly could not summit this climb on this day. We were able to get our drone up for a photo of the roadway near the top.

The climb ends near a hiking pass to our left and Cairn O’Mount which is the high point in the area at 455m.

Biking Cairn O'Mount #64 Simon Warren 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Britain - road closed and steep grade sign 

Bend 400 meters from summit.

Cairn at the summit of the climb which dates back to 2000 BC

Photo by John Aldersey-Williams

Steepest kilometer begins at km 2.6 (10.4%)

This climb is located in Cairngorms National Park in north east Scotland and is the largest park in the British Isles.   Wikipedia - Cairngorms National Park


“Cairn O' Mounth/Cairn O' Mount (Scottish Gaelic: Càrn Mhon) is a high mountain pass in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The place name is a survival of the ancient name for what are now the Grampian Mountains, earlier called "the Mounth" (in Gaelic: "monadh", meaning mountains). The name change happened from circa 1520 AD. The Ordnance Survey shows the name as Cairn o' Mount.

It has served as an ancient military route at least from Roman times through the 13th century AD. The alignment of the Cairnamounth, Elsick Mounth and Causey Mounth ancient trackways had a strong influence on the medieval siting of many fortifications and other settlements in the area comprised by present-day Aberdeenshire on both sides of the River Dee.

Cairn O' Mounth is at 1493 feet (454 m) above mean sea level,[4] and there are various commanding views of the surrounding landscape which extend as far as the North Sea.

Before the modern A90 road was constructed, the pass served as one of the eight major crossing points for those travelling over the Grampians to Deeside and into Northern Scotland; this entire crossing trackway is historically known as the Cairnamounth. Deriving from this theory, a small village grew up in the pass. The high granite tor of Clachnaben overlooks the road (now called the B974 road) through the pass. The Scottish Tourist Board describes the modern B974 as an "adventurous" road, and it is often impassable due to snow or flooding in winter. In the summer fatalities are commonly reported in the press.

In the 11th century AD, Mac Bethad (commonly known as Macbeth) survived the original English invasion, for he was defeated and mortally wounded or killed by Máel Coluim mac Donnchada on the north side of the Mounth in 1057, after retreating with his men over the Cairnamounth Pass to take his last stand at the battle at Lumphanan.[2] The Prophecy of Berchán has it that he was wounded and died at Scone, sixty miles to the south, some days later.[5] Mac Bethad's stepson Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin was installed as king soon after.

The Cairn O'Mounth pass was used by Edward I's English army in 1296 AD, en route back to England. It was also used twice by Viscount Dundee's army during the first Jacobite rising of 1689. The route over the pass is probably prehistoric: there is a cairn in the pass that has been dated to approximately 2000 BC. It is possible that this cairn is the one named in the name of Cairn O'Mounth.”  
Wikipedia - Cairn O’Mounth

“A nice little potter through the Scottish countryside got us to the “Clatterin’ Brigg tearooms”  - actually in a place called Clatterin’ Brigg, which is one of my favourite place names that we’ve come across so far on this trip!

The wind was still up, but I can imagine that the weather can get a LOT worse than I was enjoying on my ride – the snow poles by the side of the road were a clear indication of that.

The climb started pretty steep and kept on pretty steep – it was nothing TOO backbreaking, but as is common with the Scottish climbs, they just seem to keep going.

The landscape was pretty barren – not much tree cover and a ruined shell of a house on the side of a hill.
It felt like I was heading into the wind all the time and it was a bit of a grind – one of those where you just keep turning your legs over, but it doesn’t feel as though you’re making massive progress at any stage. Even if you pushed hard, to try and make the climb go quicker, it didn’t feel that you were eating up the hill at all.

Then again, right at the end, the hill leaps up at you and it made you want to go back to the grind! I got very hot and my heart rate went right up – I had to sit in my saddle and take things a little bit easier just to be on the safe side…
A couple of car parks to pass at the end – and (not surprisingly given all the climbing) fantastic views.”

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