community…

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Here in Shieldaig we are lucky to live in a community and this afternoon really brought home to me how lucky me, my wife and children are to be part of this community.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing Cycling Scotland, Ready Steady Bike sessions at Shieldaig Primary School with Jack and Jess. Last week we were joined by Bailey and ‘Boy’ for a ride out to the point north of the school on a rocky and steep in parts trail. Jack and Jess coped well and afterwards everyone agreed that a mass ride out to The Balgy Loop was in order.

The Balgy Loop starts east of the Balgy River and heads on the old road towards the log cabin, in and out of trails through the trees before a beautiful descent towards Loch Torridon and Beinn Alligin. After some more exciting descent through birch wood the trail loops back to the log cabin. For Jack and Jess this would be a perfect challenge to their riding skills and for the other nine primary pupils a chance to share this great ride with their pals. These nine pupils had already done the Ready Steady Bike sessions with me two or three years ago at Shieldaig Primary School.

Last week I guided clients on mountain bike and they mentioned how fortunate we are in Scotland with access being unhindered and not charged for. This is largely thanks to the Scottish Access Code, which is built on consideration from land users and owners alike. We are lucky here in the Torridon area to be able to responsibly ride on the trails and the hill without being hindered or made to pay fees. The Balgy Loop is a great example of this ethos, which allows walkers and bikers, young and old, experienced or new to safely enjoy the outdoors in an active healthy way.

So we headed off from the Balgy Bridge in beautiful weather and pretty soon everyone found a place in the group. The good weather this week meant that the track was not too muddy or wet. The autumn colours, especially the copper coloured bracken contrasted against the red and purple coloured slopes of Liathach in the low sun.

Everyone made it to the top of the descent to Loch Torridon although four of the group decided this was far enough and made their way back after riding under a huge fallen tree trunk. The rest of the group continued on some fantastic single track which dropped right down to the shore before climbing up to form a loop. We then rode back into the birch wood and over, under and around more fallen trees from our many storms.

By now the time was after four o’clock so we all took the low route back to the log cabin where we met the smaller group before finally enjoying a fast descent back to Balgy Bridge.

I had a fantastic time, it was so rewarding to see the children who had done Ready Steady Bike with me in the past riding with such confidence and the younger ones prepared to have a go. Cheers to all the parents who mucked in to make this happen, the teachers at the school for supporting Ready Steady Bike and a big thanks to Rachel, Adrian and Frosty who also came along on their bikes this afternoon.

Here is a link to some photos from Ready Steady Bike this year and our ride on The Balgy Loop, click here to see our route and finally here is a link to what I believe is a beautiful film all about how being active in the outdoors in this way can make a difference.

Thanks to everyone,

Jim Sutherland

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