Summer 2009 – Scotish Roadtrip

We kicked off the trip in the Cairngorms with Laggan Black/Red followed up with some local-built singletrack and a sweet trail i had scouted a few years back in the Rothiemurchus Estate; weaving its way above a raging river just a steep 200m drop below it was definitely a contender for the best singletrack of the trip (and it was only day 2). I promise you, the flow was incredible and coupled with stunning location even in the rain it was dope.

200miles and a rapid getaway from a psycho campsite owner, we found a lay-by, to pitch our tents for the second night, overlooking Golspie and the North Sea. We made our way to the tourist information centre car park which also served as a starting point for the Golspie Wild Cat trails, but first was the more pressing matter of drying our kit from the previous day’s rain. This lead to us holding shoes, gloves, armor under the towns public toilet hand driers; thats improvisation right there. The Golspie Trail itself was nothing special, especially after the stuff we’d been riding the previous two days, the general consensus was that, although nicely technical it lacked flow and didn’t exactly encapsulate the ‘epic’ feeling the road trip sought to find. Queue Torridon…

Everything about this place was epic, including the drive there. We found a sweet place to camp under some trees by a river. A quick trip to Torridon Inn (officially Scotland’s best pub) culminated in some funky tasting ale, and the end of day number three. Day four was lashing it down, undeterred by the newfound disability to dry wet equipment on the road we head out straight from the camp. The wind was pretty bad so we canceled our original 50km plans and left it to sessioning some of the trails behind where we were camping. Again, such incredibly good riding. we even found a 50m section of slick rock, slippy as sin in the wet but still looked wild on camera (yeah… i crashed). Another trip down to the Inn for steak and ale pie plus duck fat chips. Damn, that was some good duck fat, i would border on saying it would be worth the trip up to Torridon just to sample those chips.

Day five saw us heading out to Coulags for the first proper epic ride, even the huge climb-to-be-push up through the glen was pretty sweet under clear blue skies. Unfortunately for Dave M this was the end of the trip due to a leaking break leaver, kudos though for shooting some good footy single handedly with only a front brake. The rest of us summited the head of the valley to find us close to where we had pushed up to the previous day from Torridon, more slickrock and stunning views were had. The descent down was nothing short of epic, the finale had so much flow with so many line choices and natural kickers/rock slabs/burms it was unreal. Definitely the best trail of the entire trip.

We tried a ling shot at fixing Dave’s brakes by driving down to Fort Bill but by the time we got there the local bike shop was already closed. Frayed agreement over shelling out a fortune for staying in a real campsite instead of roughing it lead to the group splitting up. Ste and I spent the night in the car at the foot of Ben Nevis and spent the saved cash on a Morrison’s cooked breakfast which after eating solely canned food for six days was a good choice. Whipping the reservoir cover of Dave’s brakes exposed a broken seal, despite my assurance that i could bodge a fix using a bit of inner tube we took it to the bike shop. Surprise, surprise, no seal.

The plan? The plan was to head back down to the lakes where Dave could buy a new set of brakes and we could continue the trip through the Lake District. I was up for this but having spent the money and effort coming so far north it seemed a shame to head back south so soon. On the way to Glen Coe, Ste and I decided we may as well do the Devil’s Staircase ride then follow down to the lakes over night. The climb up Glen Coe turned out to be soul breaking after 6days on the road but the sole descent was definitely worth it, being misinformed about being able to cross a certain dam we found ourselves rolling down a water conduit undoing the last 7km of climb, and to top it off 10km of road back to Glen Coe from Kinlochleven. Hmm. We got a call from the others to say they couldn’t pick up any brakes in Keswick so we headed to Glentress spurred on my the possibility of a hot meal and showers at our Grandparents… But first the trip wouldn’t be complete without a crack at Ben Lomand! It was approaching 7pm when we set off, knowing full well we wouldn’t get to the top it was still an awesome session down through the forrest, some of it very gnarled. The setting sun gave it a nice feel, though shattering after having just done glen coe (and avoiding being smashed by some obviously drunk driver on the drive down)

Day seven saw us riding at Glentress, first the black trail followed by the freeride park right up untill the sun went down. Seemed like quite a few people had the sime idea as us, camping in the Buzzard’s Nest car park.

Feeling completely wrecked on the morning of day 8 it was time to drive home.

Awesome time? Yes
Get any good footage? Nah, not enough but it was always a trip about the riding not filming
Where’s that Coulags/Aviemore trail? What trail?!
Next year? Thats the plan!

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