A while ago now, I had a few days riding on the Isle of Skye and in Torridon. This instalment will show some of the trails I rode on Skye. Despite the weather being kind enough, some of the trails were very wet, even under water, but you take what y]ou get on Skye: the weather is often as challenging as the terrain on the Inner Hebrides.
As boggy as the initial part of the 50km loop on Skye was, the views of the Cuillin ridge and the superb trail higher up in the mountains, more than made up for it.
The descent down to Sligachan, mild in gradient, was one of the better trails I have had the pleasure of riding.
Next up, Torridon.
After the rugged beauty of Skye, I turned my attention to an old friend - Torridon. As I have mentioned before, Torridon is an awe inspiring place to ride. The terrain is rugged and technical, but the trails drain superbly, for the most part, and offer good grip: a useful characteristic as they can be steep and consequential.
I wanted to extend the usual Annat/Achnashellach/Coire Lair loop so after climbing from Coulags and descending the awesome trail to Annat, I took the road west towards the Ben Damph estate.
Incidentally, on the descent, I chatted to Alasdair McLean, who was on his way to completing the Highland Trail 550. I had pulled out of this a few weeks prior and it caused a twinge of regret to talk over his experiences. He was clearly tired but in very good spirits. I wished him well and continued down the trail.
After taking the excellent estate track south into the hills, there was an exceptionally wet singletrack alongside Loch Damh to the turn around at Kinloch Damph. Here, the trail climbs gradually, onto the shoulder of Beinn Damh, before descending from Coire Roill back to the coast.
It really wasn't until the final few kilometers that this additional loop became worthwhile and I am not sure I can recommend it.
I had met a few other riders taking part in the HTR 550 the day prior at Strathcarron Station, including Alan Goldsmith. Alan had warned me off my previous plan of taking the trail up Coire Mhich Nòbuil behind Liathach, before descending Coire Dubh Mòr, back towards Loch Clair. As he explained it, he likes a good hike-a-bike, but the route in question was hideous. Fair enough!
I had been wondering about overnighting: climbing to Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair and (hopefully) sleeping above the midge ceiling before contining around to Loch Maree, or perhaps Fisherfield, but this will have to be another time.
After Ben Damph, I climbed back up the road from Annat, to Loch Clair and from there up the beautiful trail past the Easan Dorcha bothy.
From here, I descended the Coire Lair trail - perhaps the best trail in Scotland. A few hours later, I was sat in the Plockton Inn enjoying a seafood platter and a locally brewed pint. You can't beat that.