I'm sitting in the kitchen, looking out the window at the tail end of a passing front that is creeping over Scotland from south west to north east. It is moving at roughly 40 kph i'd estimate. Today i packed various bits and bobs into the car and was going to leave for Aviemore area about 30 minutes ago. The idea was a bivi or rough camp, up early and hit the trails. come back late thursday.
As i was about to get in the car the skies literally opened and anything wet that was up there fell through. Hmm. Quick look at MWIS and met office. Estimate timescales. I'd hit Aviemore right before the front did. That would mean i'd have to get into a bivi sack wet and spend the night sweating as the humidity is high plus plus. Probably not such a comfortable way to spend the night. So, needelss to say, the weather wins again; i'm grounded. Boosh. It's been challenging to keep my sense of humour with this 'summer', it really has.
So: perfect timing to reflect on a trip (in sunshine, mostly, no less) into the hills a wee while ago. Torridon.
Odd how things cluster, right? Recently some friends, some magazines and some videos have popped up displaying this highland area's ample attractions. Big mountains, stunning lochs, ferocious midge and the rest.
I've never spent much time there, afterall it is a whole hell of a long way from anywhere. But with a couple of days off work i hit the road. Itinerary: Glen Affric in the afternoon, head round the classic loop, but lollipop it out to Alltbeithe YHA hut and see what the trail out to the back of the five sisters of Kintail would be like for a possible bike packing mission. Glen Affric was a little disappointing. Easy trail, heavy rain, clegg bites a-plenty. But the trail to Alltbeithe was good and would be no problem lightly loaded. Hmmm. My off road path to Plockton plan gathers steam.
I headed back to the car and then past a very exposed Cluanie dam to Plockton, where i spent a very pleasant evening with Plockton Brewery's Starboard ale and devouring an amazing smoked seafood platter at the Plockton Inn.
After a later night than planned, on account of the outstanding local musicicians, i made an early start and drove up to Achnashellach Station. The route from here had been born of pouring over the maps the night before and a wee bit of beta from guide books and forums.
I rode down to Coulags and took the trail up to Loch Fionnaraich, to Bealach na Lice, sped down the nearly peerless descent to Annat, pedaled up the tarmac to Loch Claire, under the watchful gaze of Beinn Eighe and took the forest track to Coulin. At a split, i ascended amazing singletrack to the shoulder of Beinn Liath Mhor and Coire Lair. It was too much to gaze upon this glorious ribbon of trail, so despite tired legs i climbed to the Bealach Ban and turned tail dropping what i think IS peerless trail all the way to Achnashellach.
On the way home i stopped off for a loop of the Badaguish trail we used for the Singlespeed worlds. It still rocks. then i came home spent but a deeply satisfied man. Here are some photos.