By Ross Dempster
Published: Apr 19, 2015More by Ross
Scotland has an abundance of world class mountain biking.
The rolling hills, forests and winding glens lends itself perfectly to exploring it by bike. The beautifully developed trail centres sprouting up all over the country can offer a physical test and a proper examination of your technical skills but for me there is something special about going to the more remote “back country”.
From an early age I remember packing a rucksack and jumping onto my bike to explore my native Pentland Hills. The scenery, challenging terrain, river crossings and even the mishaps (from punctured tyres to becoming temporarily “misplaced”) all becoming essential ingredients to the adventure mixing pot. The following 5 wild rides are my current favourites and I have even included a couple of Apres Velo suggestions where you can warm and rehydrate!
For more specific route maps and riding instructions I recommend purchasing this book.
The Torridon Loop
Torridon in the North West Highlands is a place of epic proportions. The mountains rise fjord like from the Sea Lochs and Sea Eagles soar above the crags and peaks carved out of some of the oldest rock in the world.
The Torridon loop abides by this sense of grandness, it is a full day’s ride taking you into the region’s back country, a nice mix of landrover tracks and single track gives a beautiful variation to the day.
Epic Torridonean Sandstone slabs grip your tyres (even in the rain) so you can push your bike to its limits and ever rising technical climbs will test the skill of even the most avid of cross country riders.
To enjoy this circuit you will want to have a good level of fitness, it is 30 miles off road and climbs around 900 metres so not a good choice if you have been out of the saddle for an extended period! It starts and finishes roughly at the Torridon Inn which is always a good spot to relive the days adventure. Find out some Fascinating Facts about the Torridon and Applecross area.
The Beinn Damph Circuit
It is no coincidence that I have included 2 mountain bike rides both within the Torridon region of Scotland, I could quite happily spend every day exploring the trails winding in and out of the many peaks.
The Beinn Damph circuit it not quite as large a undertaking as the Torridon Loop but it still offers a stiff test of both a physical and technical nature. The ride circumnavigates Beinn Damph and has some wonderful singletrack to keep you occupied, but the real treat comes at the end.
Once you reach the final col the views down to Loch Torridon will take you breath away. Once you realise that there is singletrack all the way down to the shore side you will be as giddy as a school boy! Loose in places but spectacularly technical, fast and scenic, the downhill is the icing on cake. See above for refreshments.
Even the most experienced mountain biker can experience a flash of nerves, a tiny wobble and a moment of doubt. Read Videographer Rupert’s 5 MTB tips for a smoother and a more relaxed ride.
We hit this trail on our Harris, Skye and Torridon tour which is for more advanced riders.