Last week Neil, Will, Steve and Darren arrived at The Torridon Inn for a five day visit. They had been looking forward to this trip for some time and when I met them for a briefing I was overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and hunger for route suggestions! Having discussed options and looked at the weather forecast for the week it was agreed that a blend of self-guided and one day guided mountain biking would be the best.
So on Day 1 they headed across on the Kenmore-Applecross track with a stop for a coffee in Applecross. I had a hunch that this would not be enough to feed Steve’s rat so for the second half of the day I suggested having a wee explore near Beinn Alligin for some steeper, rocky stuff.
Day 2 had me on duty to guide The Classic Torridon Loop. Some folk like to car-juggle the initial road section or leave it until the end of the day(?) We made the simple decision to use the road ride as a way to warm up, enjoy the splendour of Glen Torridon and have a blether on the quiet road. The ride into Coulin is always a special one as this is where my grandfather worked as a gardener, some eighty years ago. The big sky views in the middle of this beautiful estate never fail to impress; or the great descent out of the woods bring a smile to your face. Interestingly the guys thought that the climb to the 282m. summit of the Coulin Pass was quiet a long one in comparison to what they ride in The Cotswolds. Certainly the banter and laughs on the climb told me that everyone was in good shape and spirit! We all enjoyed the warp-speed descent to Achnashellach with a stop for a breathtaking shot of the loch from ‘that SantaCruz ad’. After the descent we got down to the train station and began the road section to Coulags. Although uphill the technicality of the climb to the Coire Fionnairach bothy is over quickly. This time round the trail took two inner tubes and a visit to the ditch as payment for safe passage. The rest of the climb to the Bealach na LIce was without incident and we stopped part of the way up to talk with a rider from the United States who had taken an extra weeks vacation after a business trip to sample the world-class mountain biking that Scotland has to offer. Just below the top of the bealach I suggested that we had some food, adjusted our attitude to ‘remote descent’ and stay comfortable out of the northerly wind. Everyone agreed to ride at their own pace in order to enjoy this descent to the full. Steve headed off to find his monkey with Darren, whilst Will was now carrying a giant spacehopper on his back. Neil enjoyed this mountainscape at his own pace which he appreciated. The Annat descent is superb. This old stalkers path has a perfect line, exposed sandstone slabs and all the time a breathtaking view ahead of you during the 5km of trail and 400m of vertical. Every time I am asked to guide it I regard it as a privilege to take folk into such an amazing environment. I hope that I can pass on something to my clients during the day but the Torridon Mountains take care of that for me!
Day 3 was a wetter day with southwesterly weather but this did not stop Steve, Will, Neil and Darren from riding into the Fisherfield Forest for a taste of an even more remote area. The river levels changed quite significantly during the day which emphasised how important route choice and mountain awareness is when riding in such remote places.
Day 4 the guys wanted a coastal ride. Since taking ‘the bus of shame’ last season I have not done much coastal riding in Torridon so I pointed them in the direction of Kishorn and a wee loop by the coast and in the trees.
Darren, Will, Neil and Steve’s spirits, skills and open-minded attitude made advising and guiding them a pleasure.
I look forward to seeing you again soon.
blog by Jim Sutherland