Trip created by Rachael Gavan
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We’ve created a wild mountain bike adventure that will take you through some of the wildest and most remote terrain in the UK.
Falling between our Hebridean Trail and Coast to Coast trips in terms of its physical and technical challenge, the North West Passage will take you on an intricate route from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea and then back to the Atlantic.
Starting out in Fort William on the West Coast we ease into our ride following the imposing geological fault line that is the Great Glen. From here the trail becomes more remote as we journey north to the stunning Glen Affric – widely considered as Scotland’s most beautiful glen. We spend a day exploring here before pushing further into the Northern Highlands. Big mountains, wild rivers and lonely glens dominate the landscapes, punctuated by trails which are perfect for mountain biking. Reaching the North Sea coast, our final day offers the unique opportunity to traverse an entire country in one day. Starting from the East Coast our route eventually leads us to the sheltered and dramatic Atlantic shores of Ullapool on Scotland’s mountainous West Coast.
Meet your Wilderness guides in Inverness before travelling south to the West Highland town of Fort William. On arrival, relax over a cup of coffee while we run through the itinerary for the week and all the essential details. Starting from Nevis Range MTB centre in the shadow of Ben Nevis – the UK’s highest mountain – we’ll do a bike fit and ensure everyone is ready to ride. Our route for the first day provides the opportunity to warm up as we head north through the forest on a route that takes us to Laggan Locks at the head of Loch Lochy. Then a short transfer takes us to our accommodation in Spean Bridge where we will enjoy a welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant. (L,D)
Route Details: 32km/20mi
The first part of today’s ride is along the route of the Caledonian Canal – an engineering marvel built by Thomas Telford in the early 1800s. By the time we reach Fort Augustus we’ll be ready for lunch and will need the energy for the afternoon ride. Climbing steeply out of Fort Augustus we follow an ancient military road first built to mobilise government troops at the time of Jacobite uprisings. You’ll be following in the footsteps of 300 years of Highland history on the trail which takes us through Glen Moriston and then Glen Affric, finishing at the village of Cannich. We’ll then transfer a short distance to Strath Glass where we’ll stay for 2 nights. (B,L,D)
Route Details: 62km/39mi
A nice relaxed start today before gearing up for a circular ride in Glen Affric. Often described as Scotland’s most beautiful glen, Affric is a majestic blend of ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, sparkling lochs and alluring mountains which thrust into the West Highland wilderness. Our route takes us past the 8km long Loch a Beinn a Mheadhoin before heading deeper up this uninhabited wild glen. After crossing the loch we ride some scenic singletrack above the shore with many Munro mountains forming the backdrop. Returning to the village of Cannich, a stop at the tranquil Bog Cotton Cafe is well worth making. From here it’s a short distance back to our hotel. (B,L,D)
Route Details: 55km/34mi
Our journey continues north as we leave Strath Glass behind and climb into the hills of the Erchless Forest. We steadily climb over a pass which descends into a remote glen. The gaelic name for the hills here suggest this is a place to see Golden Eagles in their natural wild habitat. Heading east we will enjoy a fun 5km stretch of single track following a traditional stalkers’ path. Reaching the forests of Strath Connon we pass by the Falls of Orrin before rolling into our overnight stop near the village of Strathpeffer. (B,L,D)
Route Details: 48km/30mi
Today’s ride captures the spirit of riding in the Highlands – fun trails through big and wild landscapes. We kick off with a single track warm up following some of the trails used in the annual “Strathfpuffer” 24 hour mountain bike race. Striking north from here, we begin our day’s journey deep into the North Highland wilderness. This is the most remote part of the trip and arguably one of the most isolated corners of Western Europe. Around 30km of trail leads us north to Strathcarron where a quiet road leads to the Kyle of Sutherland. Our riding is not yet done as we have one final climb to tackle followed by a fantastic single track descent to our hotel. (B,L,D)
Route Details: 75km/47mi
A unique opportunity to ride across an entire country today, from the tidal shores of the Kyle of Sutherland in the east to the Atlantic Ocean on Scotland’s west coast. It’s another day which ventures into the remote wilderness far away from human habitation. Warming up on a short section of quiet tarmac we reach the gateway to the wilderness at the historic settlement of Croick – at one time home to nearly 100 inhabitants before the turbulent times of the Highland Clearances came to pass. Historical features dot the landscape here, including the colourful Duag Bridge School which amazingly housed pupils until the 1930s. As the trail continues west, the spectacular mountain peaks of Assynt come into view signalling our approach to Ullapool. Before long we’ll blast the final miles downhill to reach the coast where we can proudly dip our wheels in the Atlantic. Enjoy a celebratory seafood dinner and a dram in the lively village of Ullapool before turning in for the final night. (B,L,D)
Route Details: 58km/36mi
After breakfast we load the vehicle and bike trailer and enjoy a leisurely 1.5 hour journey back to Inverness. Here you can catch your onward travel or choose to stay on and experience some more magic of the Scottish Highlands. (B)
This trip features some of the best hotel and guest house accommodation and food along the route we travel. We use a variety of accommodations such as country inns, guesthouses and small hotels, all hand-picked by us. Accommodation is in a choice of double or twin rooms with ensuite facilities. Lunch each day will be either a wilderness picnic or taken at a local cafe/restaurant. Drinks and snacks are provided throughout the day as you require. Evening meals are included throughout and we have the flexibility to take evening meals in local restaurants or pubs. Based upon our knowledge and experience, we will visit the best places to eat along the route.
There is no supplement charged to solo travellers, however you will be required to share a room with another person of the same sex. If you request a double room for single occupancy, a supplement is charged. Due to the nature of the accommodations we use, single supplements are limited and are allocated on a first come first served basis.
On this trip we generally eat dinner as a group however if you would like to make alternative arrangements you are free to do so. Your guide will have an evening off during this trip where they do not eat with the group.
Your Guide will meet you at the centre of Inverness Railway Station by the fixed seating area 9.00am on Day 1 of your trip.
You will be returned to Inverness Railway Station at 12:00pm on the final day of your trip.
|Trip Dates for 2020||Availability||Status||Price||Book|
|9th May - 15th May 2020||8 place(s) left||PROVISIONAL||£1,595||Book Now|
|22nd Aug - 28th Aug 2020||8 place(s) left||PROVISIONAL||£1,595||Book Now|
Sometimes it's nice to get family and friends together and travel privately for some quality time. This means you benefit from all the features of the group departure, including hand-picked accommodation and expert local guides and we'll take care of it all. Then you can make your choice of departures dates and we'll get back to you to finalise the details.
As founder of Wilderness Scotland Paul’s craving for adventure and knowledge of Scotland knows no bounds. His leadership has resulted in Wilderness Scotland twice being named as Best Green Tour Operator in the World at the World Travel Awards and ranked as No.1 Adventure Travel Company in Europe by National Geographic. Paul’s commitment to excellence in all that he pursues becomes obvious in the routes we follow and the little touches included in this trip.
- Paul EastoAsk Paul a Question
Blue Graded Mountain Biking Holidays 4-6
Our blue graded mountain biking holidays are suitable for people with previous experience of mountain biking at an intermediate level.
You can expect around 6-8 hours of riding each day so a good level of fitness is required. Distances covered will typically be in the range of 40km-60km each day with the occasional longer ride. Trail conditions will be very varied; everything from quiet minor roads to island beaches, land-rover tracks and short sections of single-track riding through rugged mountainous terrain, which will be technical in places.
Rated 4.50 out of 5 based on 2 review(s) of Mountain Biking – The North West Passage
Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us. Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.
That’s why we read each of our client’s reviews and although we don’t respond to all of them, if it’s glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.
Reviewed on 02/06/2019
Age: 40 - 50
Trip Date: 18/05/2019
Trips Taken: 4
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
I enjoyed the North West Passage mountain biking trip, but it was not quite as described. I don't believe it was as remote as it could have been, and there was a fair amount of shuttling about of people and bikes between starting points. I think it could benefit from some tweaks.
Overall the accommodation was as expected. I would make the following changes though. (1) First night in Fort Augustus instead of Spean Bridge as there is more to see and do. (2) Last night in Ullapool would be better in a hotel in the centre than one 3 miles away. (3) Keep the the mid week stay at the Coul House Hotel as it was excellent and a great was to relax in the middle of the trip.
Graham's laid back approach to the trip made it fairly relaxing, despite the effort required to cycle some of the terrain. His card trick in a bothy whilst we were soaking wet and I couldn't even feel my feet was particularly memorable! It was great to meet Wally, who was particularly helpful and clearly passionate about the outdoors. He worked hard to keep the bikes in order and made a great accompanying guide to Graham.
This is the first time this trip has run and it needs some tweaks in my opinion. It didn't quite have the same feeling of achievement, magnitude or remoteness as the other mountain biking trips. Some of the days were just too short, and required shuttle runs to get started / finished. It would be better if these could get ironed out. I would stay the first night in Fort Augustus too as a better alternative to Spean Bridge, and it would be great to cycle the the whole of Glen Affric to avoid looping back on the same trail. Overall though a well organised trip with experienced guides made for a hassle free and enjoyable experience. TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE: As with any new trip we review all feedback from the clients and guides after each departure to see if we need to make changes to improve the trip. Thanks so much for taking the time to provide feedback as to us. It really is invaluable as we continue to refine the itinerary to make sure the trip exceeds expectations. It sounds like you had a fantastic time overall and hopefully, we can welcome you back to Scotland on another trip soon.
Reviewed on 27/05/2019
Age: 0 - 10
Country: United Kingdom
Trip Date: 18/05/2019
Trips Taken: 2
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
It was described as being " remote " I only once during the trip did I have a feeling of being remote.
Some ( Coul House ) was exceptional others less so. ( Inver Shin and Cnoc house ) where I could hardly fit in the shower. Overall the quality of food was very good.
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