And that’s where eguide Scotland comes in.
Based in Aboyne, the adventure tourism business rents electric mountain bikes and take riders out on guided tours to explore the surrounding area.
The business was set up before the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, and it was a struggle to make it through the first few months as owner Tony Yule explains.
He said: “It was frightening. I took the opportunity to sent some money aside, but for the first few months I was at a loss. I had bikes, I’ve got a workshop, but we weren’t allowed to do anything really or go anywhere. It was a really terrifying.”
But eguide Scotland survived the pandemic, relatively unscathed and the business as grown from strength to strength.
“When people were finally allowed to travel, we saw demand go through the roof,” Tony added. “We started with four bikes at the end of 2020, and now we have more than double that.”
E-bikes – a bike that can be powered by electricity as well as propelled by pedals – makes getting out and exploring in and around Aboyne that much easier for people of all abilities.
"E-bikes are so much more accessible to a wider spectrum of people,” Tony agreed. “Tradionally, mountain bikes were male dominated or for people who were physically fit. But when the e-bikes came along, from a guide’s point of view, it’s better for the group, there’s no one zipping on ahead, so it’s very social and everyone is seeing the same thing at the same time. It’s great.”
Hitting the road with Tony or any of the other guides usually means not straying too far from Aboyne, but with fantastic scenery, there isn’t any complaints.
Tony continued: “I generally stay very local to Aboyne, so Ballogie, Tarland, Dinnet… it’s amazing to move from Aboyne to Tarland. There’s lush farmland, cattle and sheep as far as the eye can see. But then you traverse to Logie, Coldstone and Dinnett, the hills come and the landscape changes. We’ve had people on the trek say, ‘I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never noticed all this before, this is just amazing’. They’re rediscovering where they life and there is so much amazing things to see on their doorstep.”
Guides will walk through the intenery before everyone heads off on a trek.
"I feel like the Piped Piper, laughed Tony. “We just set off and it will probably be for about three hours as long as people are enjoying themselves. We tend to keep people off the road as it’s safer, obviously. The bikes will cope with any terrain.
"Sometimes everyone is just enjoying the scenery or keeping an eye on the bikes, but if I do see something I will stop. For example, we spotted frogs on the path on one trek near Loch Kinord and everyone picked up a frog and moved them to safety.
"I will try and inject a bit of culture into a trip, maybe tell an old wives’ tale or a folk story to break things up – it helps enrich the experience.”
eguide Scotland offers a range of different treks – from a mindfullness trip with coach Jen or Tony’s more quirky guide and talk – to the wildlife safari where trekkers will be taken out into the hills to look for deer, eagles, plantlife etc around the Cainrgorms.