The classic Torridon mountain bike loop is called the classic for a reason. There’s nowhere qite like it in the UK, the mountains are huge the trails endless, challenging, rough, slick, grippy, these are just a few ways to describe the unique combination of bedrock and gravel singletracks that hold up whatever the westcoast rain can through at them. This area should be on all bucket lists for UK riding if it’s not I suspect these pictures might help change that!
To ride here on a sunny day almost seems a shame as you lose the drama of the dark brooding Scottish landscapes and we certainly had that. This was us making a dash to the bothy in the distance before the storm or maybe aliens attacked us!
Starting out from Torridon village we rode east up the A896 towards the COulin Estate where the river coulin flows into Loch Clair. We passed a great Highland cow against Scottish mountains scene, I ran over to take a picture but ran back when one of the normally placid horned cows takes an interested in me!
Following the estate road we pass by the highland cows, then admire stunning waterfalls in the small stream before we reach the Tea Room a tiny but comfy bothy/shed by a swim spot which on a sunny day like today makes it an inviting stop. This no cake in the tearoom so lower your expectations.
After dropping my sunglasses in the deep pool I dived into retrieve them before getting on the bike and riding the singletrack into the heart of the mountains. Not many days get this hot in Scotland but that was all about to change with the cloud rapidly building into a storm.
THe views aren’t bad but the sky is properly threatening now.
We reach the infamous crossroads of epic singletrack trails in each direction at Coire Lair we head on AchnaShellach station on the road further south. This descent is possibly my favourite in teh area, in an area like this that says something. It is all ridable but a few sections might need rerunning if you come in totally blind, it’s a challenge but not scary steep.
THen it’s a road blast for about 6km west to Coulags, here the climb was directly into the most bizarre cloud formation of arching ridges perfectly symmetrical above us.
The contrasting green bracken and surreal dark sky made me grab my camera and snap away, I’m not sure I did it justice?
THe climb passes another bothy that is highly recommended for a night stop over. We were going to stop but the storm hadn’t hit by the time we arrived so we carried on riding keeping fingers crossed.
I had forgotten just how tough the final section up to Loch Coirefionnaraich and beyond was to ride. A steep gradient on rough trail. We drop down to Loch an Eoin which for some unknown reason reminds me of lake Gossaikunda in Nepal as it opens up before you, luckily here we are much lower than 5000m as we blast the flowing trail around the edge of the water.
It is then slabs of slick rock as we drop down to Loch Torridon way off in the distance but rapidly getting closer and closer as we rattle through the boulder fields on the final descent.
It’s a classic route and as such it has clearly seen a lot more traffice since I last rode it, which is good and bad at the same time. Erosion is an issue here but riding responsibly it’s a great place to explore for a long weekend, with so many trails to choose from in every direction.