I will be spending some time this winter in Benderloch. I just got a 29er hardtail and am loving it! Are there some good cross country trails in this area? I am not a great rider as I was primarily a road cyclist so I am not looking for anything too technical. With that being said, I currently live in the mountains so the single track I have been on does require some skill. I am on the tail of my friend who races so I may be considered an intermediate rider. Tight switchbacks and loose rock on climbs and descents are my too biggest challenges. BTW,I enjoy the climb as much as the downhill. I know Barcaldine forest nearby and am wondering if there is good single track there and if that would be the closest? Anyway, thank you in advance for any suggestions!
cross country trails near Benderloch, Scotland?
That's my old stomping ground!
A lot has changed since I used to ride there though, the local DH trails were up on Beinn Lora, but its since become a complete disaster area of felling and forestry works. If there is still a single continuous route up the hill then it offers a great, testing link with Barcaldine Forest. There is some sheep track and quad track on the non-forested side of the hill which I explored a couple of times, but I never perfected a continuous loop.
There is an old trail that passes the black lochs between Connel and Oban, this was lumpy, muddy singletrack with farm tracks at either end. Made for an entertaining ride into Oban, and you could come back via the landrover track that runs parallel to the railway between Oban and Connel Bridge.
Barcaldine forest has had some great singletrack built between the forest roads. I forget where the best bits are (although one bit descends off the end of the dam through the trees, great fun). You would be best contacting the North Argyll Cycle Club as some of the members know the good stuff.
You're not far from Loch Etive, and many epics are possible there, the west shore of Loch Etive is rideable almost entirely from Bonawe up to Glen Etive, you could turn this into a pretty big day out as you can ride through to Glen Coe and descend, off-road, to Glen Coe village, ride to Ballachulish and follow the Glen up and over to Duror. This would be a great 'big day out'!
Kerrera has a good loop of the island, and there are some trails dotted around Port Appin although you really have to search for the best ones.
The String of Lorne from Loch Scammadale to Dalavich is a great route although it requires some driving or some road miles to get to and only really works as a one-way or out-and-back style route.
Fearnoch Forest has some interesting looking little loops but is predominantly forest road. Good looking trails in the hilltops above Oban as well, Kevin in the local bike-shop knows the best ones.
As you can see its all a bit spread out, I'd love to move back and make a concerted effort to build a trail network but alas, I'll just have to make do with Vancouver for now!
Actually, reading your post again, I think you could make the best of the area by focusing on longer distance stuff on the 'easy' forest roads, maybe fit some skinnier semi slick style tyres.
One great route I did on the cyclocross bike was down to Barran farm (mostly tarmac but steep and twisty) before crossing over to Kilchrennan via the Glen Nant trails, and back on the tarmac. A faster set up would also allow you to take advantage of the great new cyclepath that runs all the way up to Duror (and perhaps further now).
Nooooooooooo! My Beinn Lora trails have gone! Gutted.
Of more use to OP, if you're new to the area then your best bet is probably just to get the OS map and head off to explore the mix of Landrover tracks and singletrack roads that can get you over towards Onich, round to Taynult, back in to Oban, or even further without much effort. You've probably got the perfect bike and with road fitness, you'll be able to get to know the area much better than following track suggested by locals. As you progress you can get onto some of the amazing singletrack around there.
The only problem with being a local on the west coast is that everywhere you go afterwards seems like such a disappointment...
Thank you both for your suggestions! I will have 5 months of doing nothing but riding so I may be able to tell you guys the best track if you ever need to know :-). You definately gave me some good pointers and I will also touch base with the club.
It should be pretty amazing. I live in northwest Montana and never ride alone because of bear and mountain lion. It will be nice to be able to ride alone, not worrying about whether there is a stump in the trail or a bear!
If you two are ever in the area (ok - Vancouver may be out of the way), be sure to contact me and we will go for a ride!
Wow, that'll be a change of scenery for you then! What are you doing in Benderloch for five months with nothing to do??
Be prepared for it to be a bit bleak and wet throughout the winter. You can get some glorious, cold days but it can also be unremittingly dreich.
Its a little heretical on this site but I'd almost suggest just taking a road bike (!). If you're capable of 50-100mile days then the best of the west coast is your oyster.
The circuit of Mull is a classic, racing the ferries over 88 miles of crazy singletrack road (I felt like I almost took off over a humpbacked bridge at 45mph..) You can also combine the Corran, Lochaline and Craignure ferries for a great tour of Loch Linnhe. My favourite Christmas epic was a December 27th loop from Benderloch-Glen Coe-Tyndrum-Dalmally, I'll never forget the site of a snow covered Buachaille Etive Mor while turning the pedals to the Brian Jonestown Massacre in my headphones.
Using the Corran ferry opens up the Ardnamurchan Peninsula from Benderloch, I reckon Scotland's steepest road is hidden away in there between Acharacle and Loch Shiel.
There's some great loops down Dalavich way also, and you can have a great ride all the way to Arrochar or even Helensburgh before catching the train back.
Oh, and hi Graham! Glad I didn't try to take any credit for your trails there
Well, I visited Scotland twice in the last year and it made me realize how much I am missing in life. It's a total gamble but I am leaving my high stress job, renting my home, just to move to Scotland and focus on riding. So, I really can't say that I will have nothing to do. Midlife crisis? Maybe but it's going to be one hell of a great crisis! I also plan to volunteer for an organization or two and do what I can to see if an employeer would be willing to sponsor me in the future. Weather? Not too worried as we have 275 days of cloudcover and non-stop snow. I will take getting rained on over snow. Of course ask me in March how I feel about the rain!
I thought about bringing my road bike but was concerned with the narrow roads and fast traffic. 50 to 70 miles are a comfortable distance for me but I just felt a little uneasy with people like me driving those roads. And, to be honest, after being on this new bike, I confess that I want to be on this bike ALL of the time. It's really fast and goes over nearly everything. If I am able to get a job, I will definately ship my road bike over as well but for now I will stick to the hardtail. I can always get some slicks for it too.
And whisky....my gosh, the whisky is part of my midlife crisis too.....
Wow - I have to check out all of the additional places you mentioned. There will be no shortage of riding for me, that's for sure! You're awesome!
Enjoy your crisis! It'll certainly be a change of scene in Benderloch
I'll use a stereotype and assume you'll be picking up a car and are used to driving! In which case 1hr of driving (the miles go past much much slower on a Scottish A road than an American freeway, so thats more like 40 miles) gets you to so many amazing places, and the roads (once off the A roads) are really good for riding, as you've been shown above. I'd add driving up to Corran ferry, leaving the car there and exploring the Ardnamurchan peninsular roads, or going to as many islands as you can. If the forecast is wet, but not too windy (does happen occasionally, honest) then the further out islands (tiree, harris, lewis etc), though a bit of work to get to, generally have nicer weather (the rain doesn't realise it's above land in time and waits till it hits the mainland to pour) and will show you a side of Scotland not that many get to see.
Salut from Chamonix to Vancouver, neatly highlighting how after Argyll, everywhere seems a bit rubbish eh...
Nice! Thanks Grum p - hopefully 5 months is enough! I did drive when I was there and fully understand. I am happy to hear these roads are more quiet and suitable for road biking....maybe I will bring both bikes afterall
Cycling makes for a good life, right?!
Definitely bring a road bike. Mull, Ardnamurchan, Sunart etc are all fabulous. I did a wee tour round that way last year http://www.blog.scotroutes.com/2012/07/coasting-around-west-day-1.html
My folks used to live in Connel - imo the road riding around that area beats the mtb - but that can be good too. It's a brilliant part of Scotland that I wish had call to go back to more frequently than I do.
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