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A pyramid hidden on a hill in Perthshire gives Scot a challenging destination for a cycle ride

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Craig Gibbon sits amid the jumble of small summits that are crammed within the boundaries of Strathbraan to the north, Glenalmond to the south and the Sma’ Glen to the west.

Glen Shee and Glen Garr carve their way through the landscape and give some shape to the profile of the hills, but from afar they look indistinct. Only Craig Gibbon stands out from the others, marked by the cluster of Scot’s Pine trees that crown its summit, but a closer look at an OS map reveals a network of tracks and paths that warrant further exploration.

From my office window Craig Gibbon and the surrounding Obney hills are visible a few miles to the west and it would make sense that it would be a regular area for my off-road cycles, but I neglect their charms, lured by the more popular tracks around Craigvinean and Atholl Estate.

Checking my diary the last time I had been on Craig Gibbon was 14 years ago, so recently I decided to make amends and start exploring this area again. My first foray was a family bike ride that took us through Murthly Castle grounds, onwards to Birnam Hill and then along Strathbraan to tackle Glenshee from the north.

The weather was glorious and the views even better. Even the ruin of Auchmore, built in 1827, couldn’t keep up its Wuthering Heights windswept facade in the sunshine. After a fabulous and rocky descent on the track towards Little Glenshee we turned eastwards and pedalled along by Loch Tullybelton and homewards. The ride had reminded me of the off-road potential of this area and I vowed I would be back very soon.

Fortunately I kept my promise to myself and a few weeks later I cycled from Bankfoot towards Farkhill and Balquharn with the aim of cycling to the summit of Craig Gibbon. Again the weather was hot. The temperature on my GPS device was reading 27C and by the time my tyres hit dirt tracks at Black I was wishing I’d taken more water with me.

Scot Tares.

The area does have some large fences with padlocked gates, but of those that I have encountered they are all negotiable by a ladder and handrail to the side of the gate. With a bike on my shoulder and cycling shoes I took a little more care, but with one bike it wasn’t much of a problem.

The previous week I had climbed back and forth two of these ladders with both of my kids’ bikes and that of my wife too – a slightly more challenging prospect. Once on the hillside the challenge was the gradient with sections of the climb reaching 14%, which at the best of times strains the legs, but on a very gravelly and rough track was a genuine test of endurance.

On the top of the moor a track leads over a small plateau before dwindling to a single track path that enters the trees and takes you to the summit and the pyramid shaped obelisk that sits upon it. The obelisk was built by Colonel Mercer in the 1800s so he could spot the hill that he owned from his house at Meikleour.

Now that pyramid is completely obscured by, in my opinion, more beautiful Caledonian Scot’s pine trees. I considered retracing my tyre marks back down, but always keen to explore I followed a track around the south side of the summit that quickly disappeared in the heather.

I shouldered my bike and set off downhill where I quickly discovered another track that steeply led my down towards Glen Garr.

One of the enjoyable aspects of those two rides was that as I pedalled I spotted new tracks and trails heading off in many different directions and several more adventures now await for me to explore further.

Where to ride:      Craig Gibbon.

OS Landranger 1:50,000 Map 52 NO 013373

Details  Craig Gibbon can be accessed from the car park at the ford at Little Glen Shee. It is wise to take a map with you and plan a route as there are so many tracks it is easy to head off in a different direction to the one that you wish to take.