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Heartbreak Ridge, Ballater

Aberdeenshire Trail Association
May 2021 (3 week project)

Work Scope

The Heartbreak Ridge Trail near Ballater is a popular choice for hikers and cyclists looking for a challenge.

The 4km black single-track natural trail is lined with heather and surrounded by awe-inspiring views of majestic Scottish mountains and hills. However, with the route being a favoured spot for many adventure tourists and active locals, it was suffering damage from frequent use.

The CRC team was brought in to improve the entire route's durability while retaining the trail's character. We got to work building 350m of new single-track descent, upgrading over 1km of traverse/climbing trail, and improving the durability of the entire route while preserving its natural appeal.

The work was carried out using 14T and 5T excavators, combined with hand work from the trail team. The result is a durable, exciting trail that can withstand the harsh weather and provide an exciting experience for its users.



In enhancing the trail's durability, it was also important that we improved the track's sustainability. As the trail had never been officially "built", the surface and drainage needed an upgrade to ensure the track would remain safe for years to come.

Using our extensive expertise, we implemented drainage systems and improved the running surfaces throughout the trail so that it could handle more hikers and bikes without wearing out.

The trail is in a sensitive upland environment with very challenging ground conditions. In some locations, the path is boggy and, in others, steep and rocky. However, as we're well versed in working in challenging environments, our skilled team was able to upgrade all ground conditions to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for users.

As all our projects have a low environmental impact, preserving the natural landscape is vital. With an exclusion zone around a habitat to work around, the team set aside the initial plan of using machinery and completed the required work by hand. Throughout the project, we worked alongside an ecologist who made regular site visits to ensure we took all necessary precautions to protect the natural environment.


It has been fantastic to see the Heartbreak Ridge trail come back to life while retaining its natural beauty.

This epic trail is now safe to use, environmentally-responsible, and allows people to explore even more of the great outdoors.

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