This came from a request over Instagram and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to share this route. It’s a commonly shared one but what’s wrong with another perspective and opinion, a few iphone shots and some inspiration for people to get out and ride!
I’ve been exploring the hills of Scotland for years now, enjoying our outdoor access laws and the freedom we possess to get out and share the tracks, paths and trails with other users. We’re blessed by the outdoor access code and I applaud those who pushed this through parliament. Politicians can make positive changes!
I assembled the troops for a weekend of riding. First we hit Golspie Wildcat trails about an hour North of Inverness. These are superb trails, under publicised but they over delivered based on my expectations. The new Highland Skate Park pump track had also just opened in Inverness so we swung by Monsterbikes in Inverness before a session under floodlights at the incredible facility they’ve created. Even just 1 lap of this gets your heart rate approaching threshold!
Our warm up was well completed before we delved into the rugged and intimidating area of Wester Ross. This must have been an inspiration for something out of Game of Thrones. It’s a place of majestic beauty. Snow capped summits, ridges of solid granite and lochans dotted throughout the landscape. It’s truly awesome!
Our accommodation was served perfectly by the bunkhouse as Kinlochewe hotel. Good value and spacious. Ideal for a group of smelly mountain men! After sampling some of Scotlands finest whiskies we got our heads down. A laphroig helps you sleep. What’s that saying? A whisky a day keeps the doctor away?
Our starting point for the ride was half way between Kinlochewe and Torridon. Parking up we assessed the weather and temperature. Although fairly warm (6 degrees) we packed some extra layers and prepared for the potential downpours, snow, sleet, temperature drops or even a heat wave. You just don’t know what you’ll get in Scotland. Even in November. We hit the trail riding into the Coulin Estate and heading up the forest road. With a significant amount of hydro construction ongoing just now the roads into the hills were solid but also a little distracting. There are a few junctions that aren’t quite as established as they once were and three of our group missed one riding a head. Thankfully they didn’t get far before we yelled them back.
The climb to the start of the Achnashellach descent is a flowy and exciting trail. A few water bars but the ground is rocky and perfect under tyre. You can make it most of the way along only dismounting a couple of times.
Now the fun begins and for me is one of the best descents in Scotland. Just epic. Surrounded by monstrous mountains and a view dropping into the glen below. You’re in awe of the surroundings. Take this descent easy. It’s rocky, steep and potentially lethal. One of our group crashed twice but got up thankfully.without injury. A few loose rocks can catch you out but the slabs and route down from top to bottom is brilliant. Natural drops, doubles and wallrides litter the descent. It’s definitely a 70% effort trail! But that’ how all riding in the remote hills should be. No one wants to be calling the mountain rescue in!
At the bottom of the descent watch for the junction left taking you to a large fire road. Miss this and go straight on you’ve got a boggy descent to the loch below. You eventually end up on the main road (if you can call it that) that takes you along to Coulag where you begin the 2nd climb of the day. Venturing up past a hydro scheme takes you to the Coire Fionnaraich bothy. From here it’s a long ride into the head of the glen and Loch Coire Fionnaraich. Expect some hike a bike up the path at this point. You’re a good hour from the bothy to the top of the saddle that then drops you down into Torridon. For me this descent isn’t as exciting as the Achnashellach descent but it still kicks ass! The top delivers more bang for your buck. You’ve earnt it by this point. Four hours in and you’re pretty glad to see another descent. Heading towards Torridon you’re on a long and meandering trail. Nothing too steep but the speed you can pick up is worrying. We’d had 3 punctures by this point and the group added number 4 on this descent. There’s a lot of group management required for this loop so keep the numbers to a minimal. Our group consisted of 6 and I’d be reluctant to go any bigger.
With arm pump and plenty of stoke we gave each other the obligatory high five before riding back up the road towards Kinlochewe! This loop is worth the trip to ride and you’ll not be disappointed. It’s definitely for the more advanced rider. Go prepared, pack plenty of tubes and you’ll definitely have earned a steak and ale pie with an ale to wash it down by the end of the ride. Enjoy!