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  • Torridon single and multi-day routes
  • Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    Me and a couple of pals are planning on heading to Torridon for a few days in May. The current plan is to do one or two day rides and perhaps a two day ride, with a wild camp.

    Does anyone know of any good routes, or sources of information?

    Also, I have a BoB trailer, which I was thinking of using for a two day route, but having seen some footage of the riding, we may not want to be anchored to that extent…

    Any/all thoughts welcome.

    Cheers

    Premier Icon stuartie_c
    Free Member

    Here are a couple of single day routes:

    Short day with a brilliant descent:

    Longer day with two brilliant descents:

    combined with

    Full size maps in this set.

    Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    Brilliant, thanks.

    What sort of distances are we talking about. We are all fairly fit and (sometimes) used to long days in the saddle, but it would be good to know for working out timings.

    Cheers

    Premier Icon bri-72
    Full Member

    Have done the main loop in 3rd map (without the couple of add ons). Don't know mileage but prob 5 hours all in. Big old climb with a bit of bike on the shoulder climbing up rock steps. Hard going but worth it for Awesome descent, one for full suss IMO.

    Premier Icon GiantJaunt
    Free Member

    I'm hopefully going up there this summer. Thanks

    Premier Icon stuartie_c
    Free Member

    Timings are always a bit of guesswork as there are a lot of factors like group size, fitness, weather, mechanicals, navigational aptitude etc…

    However, all being well, say 2-3 hours for the first loop and maybe 5-7 for the second. The "big" loop starts in Glen Torridon and goes south through the Coulin Pass to pick up the path into Coire Lair. From here you have two options: right up into Coire Lair which is the shorter option and is maybe what Bri 72 is talking about (bit of Hike-a-bike) OR continue straight down to Achnashellach before taking the road to Coulags and then the path back to the Bealach na Lice (some push/carry near the end). Both options finish with the superb descent to Annat, but, for my money, the downhill from Coire Lair to Achnashellach is what it's all about. Proper mountain biking at its very best.

    😀

    Premier Icon pablo1
    Free Member

    Interested in this too, so thanks stuartie-c.

    Particularly interested in a 2 day route including a spot of camping, so will work out how I can piece some stuff together, but does anyone have any ideas?

    Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    Are the descents to Achnashellach and Annat BoB friendly, or would that just ruin the experience?

    Premier Icon mcmoonter
    Free Member

    Dair, I wouldnt take the BOB. The trails are super techy, it would spoil the fun. Camp near the Torridon youth hostel.

    Buy every midge repellant on the market first 🙂

    Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    Thanks mcmoonter. I think I am coming round to the idea of leaving the BoB and doing day rides.

    I always bathe in Skin so Soft before heading to the west coast!

    Premier Icon CaptainMainwaring
    Full Member

    stuartie_c has it all spot on, and absolutely do not take the BOB. You will ruin the riding as mcmoonter said. Campsite or YHA in Torridon village. You should be just about OK on the midge front in May, especially with this winter we had

    Premier Icon stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    We did the Coulags, Annat, Achnashellach loop two years ago and stayed at the wee campsite in Lochcarron which worked pretty well. Adds a bit to the ride but its on the road and pretty flat. Gives you more options for pubs etc as there is nothing in Torridon really. and it finishes with the best descent IMO although there ain't much in it. Pics here http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=photos&ref=ts&gid=194685593831#!/group.php?v=photos&gid=194685593831&so=105
    on pages 8,9 and 10. Think they are avaliable for all to view.
    Or try this
    Going over the top

    Premier Icon CaptainMainwaring
    Full Member

    Gives you more options for pubs etc as there is nothing in Torridon really

    ???? Torridon Inn is perfect and about 100m from the end of the Annat descent.

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Can't contribute to the route choices as I've not been (yet) but the BoB bashing seems a bit harsh.

    Granted, towing a trailer is a nightmare if there is lots of 'mandatory' air such as hopping drainage ditches (I purposely avoided the Devil's staircase descent with the trailer for this reason). However, if it is a more natural trail where you aren't forced to hop the back wheel constantly then descending with a trailer can be quite good fun, the additional momentum is noticeable, plus the back wheel stays down more on steep stuff. Its also a real laugh just seeing what you can get away with. I did the southern half of the Leacann Muir route with a BoB and it was brilliant fun.

    I'm not saying Torridon is the best place to practice descending with a trailer, but don't knock it till you've tried it! 😉

    Premier Icon hugin
    Free Member

    Funnily enough I'm looking at doing the Achnashellach/Annat route this summer so everything that's been posted has been pretty useful though. Just one question:

    The trails are super techy

    Still fun on a (LT) HT super techy?

    Premier Icon bri-72
    Full Member

    I've always done full suss but mates have done on long travel HT. Doable but gonna be a long (sore) rattle down. If you're use to that tho….

    Re other posts, IMO don't even consider bob trailer for the Coulags to Achnashellach loop via coire lair. Other route options might be ok tho.

    Theres a lot of bike on shoulder at top up some pretty big rock staircases. Its hard going just shouldering the bike. On the descent I reckon a trailer would at worst be unrideable in many parts, or at best removing most of the fun.

    Premier Icon hugin
    Free Member

    If you're use to that tho….

    Heh. Yep, I can grin and bear it 🙂

    Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    Great chat. Cheers guys.

    Premier Icon mcmoonter
    Free Member

    The climb up to the Achnashellach watershed descent looks benign, but there are loads of waterbars. The guys I was wit nearly all punctured. It would be hellish with a BOB trailer. The descent itself is pretty full on on a 5 inch travel bike, but there was a guy with us who did it on a long forked HT. The last thing you'd want up there would be a trailer.

    The climb from Coulags up to the next watershed involves the mother of all push/hike a bikes. It was bloody hard with just the bike. You'd have to be mad to try it with a trailer, again the downhill is a trailer wrecker.

    13thfloormonk, both of Stuarties routes are way trickier than the Devils Staircase.

    Leave the BOB, its one less thing to go wrong, the trails themselves are challenging enough.

    Premier Icon stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    We were all on hardtails bar one. Two of us were on LT HT and had a blast. So if thats what you are used to go for it. Should have said not a lot in Torridon, certainly not compared to Lochcarron. As far as I'm aware the Torridon campsite is just a field and you have to use the toilets at the Visitor centre. Don't think there is even a shop in Torridon. If I was doing it again I'd go back to Lochcarron and use that as the base unless you specifically want to stay at the Torridon Inn.

    Premier Icon NorthCountryBoy
    Free Member

    Hi I was up there last May with a few freinds, cant recomend the area highly enough! Probably the best biking I have ever done. Loved it so much I dragged the family back up in summer for a week in a caravan (and a bit more biking)! I did a few routes including the third in above post. It is superb and has everything I consider mountainbiking to be about in the route. Including a cake stop at Achnashellach station from a very nice lady that seves tea and cake in her porch! Picked a few routes from a book called Mountainbiking Scotland The Highlands by Kenny Wilson. It has good routes and advice and not expensive. I have never used a bob trailer but there is usually a bit of hike a bike on the rides so it could well be a bit of a burden! There is however a very good bothy on the route up from Coulags. It would make a nice base point but no vehicular access. There is also a youth hostel and camp site at Torridon the YHA is pretty small and probably already fully booked, the campsite is very basic but free! It has 1 shower toilet etc. There is so much good riding even in the wet the surface is very grippy, cant wait to go back!

    Kenny wilson book here.

    http://doyliewood.co.uk/BookItem.aspx?item=9780948153815

    Premier Icon NorthCountryBoy
    Free Member

    I agree with Mcmoonter about the bob Loads of water bars and techy decents. Something else I remembered we did that route on a a bit of a wet day the path is very gravely sandy so holds up well but is very abrasive. Nearly all of us needed to change brake pads after! Take a spare set.

    Premier Icon mcmoonter
    Free Member

    NCB – I used used up a new F&R set of pads in two days. Nowt left at all.

    Premier Icon NorthCountryBoy
    Free Member

    aye i was racking my best "old pads with a bit of life left" from the spares kit!

    Premier Icon jonjon
    Full Member

    Try out This Scottish guidebook plenty of West Coast inspiration

    Premier Icon CaptainMainwaring
    Full Member

    Gratuitous pic of the descent to Annat about 2/3 the way down. See the rocks on the path at the bottom of the pic – there is a lot like that and much bigger on the Achneshellach side which is why bobs would ruin it and HT's would be uncomfortable (for me at any rate)

    Premier Icon stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    Which is why it was such great fun on a hardtail 😈

    Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    Some quite inspirational photos there, guys. Cheers.
    What is the best base for exploring Torridon?

    Premier Icon stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    We stayed in Lochcarron, the people at this pub http://www.rockvilla-hotel.co.uk/bar_&_restaurant.htm were very welcoming to sweaty mountain bikers charging in and asking if there is any food left.
    http://www.kishornseafoodbar.co.uk/ is great if you like seafood and is on the road between Lochcarron and Torridon.
    http://www.lochcarron.org.uk/Camping.asp and this is where we stayed, great views and cheap.

    Premier Icon hairyscary
    Full Member

    Descent to Achneshellach.

    You can see the path winding its way down in this one.

    Premier Icon hugin
    Free Member

    Oh wow. Yep, I think I'd better get some accommodation sorted.

    Premier Icon DavidM
    Free Member

    Stuartie – On your first map, on the descent you cross a river pretty much on the E of Ben Damph Forest. Is there any way across the river other than through it. We were there in awful weather last summer so we decided to push up the descent as far as we could then turn around, but when we got to the river there seemed no way to get across when there was so much rain about?

    Premier Icon roger_mellie
    Full Member

    Having done a loop from Glen Torridon – Coulin Forest – Achnashellach – Coulags – Loch an Eion – Annat – Glen Torridon I can only agree with mcmoonter:

    The climb from Coulags up to the next watershed involves the mother of all push/hike a bikes. It was bloody hard with just the bike.

    I personally wouldn't recommend this section to anyone with a bike. It would be great without the bike, but last Sunday we spent 80% of the time pushing the bikes up between Coulags and Loch an Eion. A combination of large rocks and open drainage channels don't make for an enjoyable climb in my book. There's technical and then there's just bleedin difficult. I didn't rate the descent from Loch an Eion to Annat that much either, as I spent too much time gingerly picking a line through the rock garden. However my gnarly-ness rating is pretty low.

    The section from Glen Torridon – Coulin Forest – Achnashellach was excellent though and thanks to stuartie_c 's generous sharing of route maps, I'll probably go back and try something else as the scenery is just amazing.

    Selected photos HERE

    Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    RM – I have to say that your photos of the descent from Loch an Eion to Annat seem to contradict your comments somewhat. It looks absolutely amazing!!!

    I think I now have some serious planning to do, so thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions and I promise to report back.

    Premier Icon mcmoonter
    Free Member

    Roger

    I should clarify that. The climb up from Coulags to the Bothy was all rideable. We even rode around the wee lochan although the path was underwater. It was from there up to the watershed that was a big push/carry. Once up the down hill to Annat was fantastic. One of Stuartie's Top 5

    Premier Icon NorthCountryBoy
    Free Member

    Hi mcmoon 2nd that enjoyed the climb up from Coulags nice riding up to and past the bothy. With a good hike a bike up to the Corie. To me thats real mountainbiking no trail centre red graded climb! We stopped at the top for a good bite to eat, then that long superb single track descent all the way to the road. And all rideable! It was our last day in Torridon so we had a freshen up at the camp site then loaded the van for our next stop at Carbisdale Castle yha! With a a chinese meal stop in Dingwall. Everything tates better when your that hungry! A truly great day, followed by another! HAve put up another couple of pics to whet your appetite! One is of Carbisdale YHA a bit nicer than the tent! And ony £17 pp!

    Premier Icon Dair
    Free Member

    So, I promised to report back…

    I should start with a few words of thanks: thanks to those who persuaded me not to take my BoB; thanks to stuartie_c for his suggestion of routes and his detailed maps; and thanks to Phil McKane (although not on this thread) for his excellent guide book, "Scotland Mountain Biking – The Wild Trails".

    We ended up doing two loops:

    1. Big Torridon-Coulags Loop; and
    2. Loop of Liathach

    The "Big Loop" is certainly epic. There is a fair bit of pick and carry (from the bothy to the plateau), but the first half from Glen Torridon to Coulags is very straight forward (unless you drop your Garmin at the top of the Coulin Pass and only realise when you get to the bottom…), with stunning views of Liathach from around Coulin Lodge. The final descent to Annat is absolutely superb. There was a bit of chat about whether or not it could/should be done, or would be fun to do on a hard tail. Definitely. I did it on a full-sus trail bike, but would love to do it again on a hard tail. Flow, flow, flow.

    As for the Loop of Liathach… I found this loop on stuartie_c's flickr page. It looked good, and a full loop of Liathach really appealed. This is not a route I would do again, or recommend to anyone. We ended up carrying our bikes up, through, round and over a very broken path for about 3 miles. We may have had some unpleasant things to say about stuartie_c from time to time… sorry. That said, the descent down to Glen Torridon was absolutely awesome. Every 20 yards there was some kind of mini rock garden or rock chute. Great fun. But not worth the torture of the carry to get there. Stuartie_c – still very grateful for your advice.

    So, Torridon is clearly a great place to ride your bike, and I am sure there are many other routes up there worth exploring.

    We book-ended the trip with rides at Contin (AMAZING! If you are thinking of taking a trip to Golspie, make sure you head to Square Wheels, pick up a route map and some chat and spend a couple of hours on the superb, twisty flowing singletrack at Contin) and Fort William (Aonach Mor – speaks for itself).

    Great weekend.

    Beach

    Premier Icon stuartie_c
    Free Member

    We may have had some unpleasant things to say about stuartie_c from time to time… sorry

    Aye, and you'd not be the first… 😉

    In my defence I've never actually ridden that loop myself, though plenty others have and if you'd asked about it I'm sure you'd have been well warned off it.

    Torridon definitely gets under your skin though and I find myself drawn back to look for ever-better rides. Next time you're up you MUST ride the descent from Coire Lair to Achnashellach which Hairyscary posted pics of above.

    Also the Ben Damph loop is a brilliant short day (sorry DavidM – didn't see your post until now about the river crossing – AFAIK there is only the one point to cross and it's a wee bit awkward)

    Glad you had a good trip!

    Premier Icon coastkid
    Free Member

    there is a another 2 campsites at torridon…2-300m past the torridon hotel at annet is a farmers field across from the red phonebox..free to camp on the shoreline (shore breeze-usually midge free) but note no facilitys but you can have a fire on the shoreline 😮 and there is a secluded burn for the call of nature… there is a donation box so put a couple of quid in if you stop over…
    also a nice site along the road west from torridon campsite near invergalligin…very basic but this view in the morning!…

    and just along at the road end is the excellent trail from lower Diabaig to Redpoint beach- a nice slow speed techy trail above the coast worth riding too as an out and back with a break on the beach…

    Premier Icon allyharp
    Full Member

    I'm just back from 2 days riding in Torridon. Firstly we did the "big loop" which appears in Stuartie's map and many books with the 2 major descents – down to Achnashellach via the Coire Lair and the final descent to Annat.

    I have to say that despite all the hype for the Annat descent, the one down to Achnashellach was my favourite. Lots of nice big rocks to steer through and large slab areas to ride over. Getting to it was a bit of a push up a hill but I think it would mostly be ridable if you were fit.

    The descent to Annat on the other hand left me a little underwhelmed. It took a fair trek through a bog followed by a huge hike up a hill to get to it, and then apart from it's length I didn't really think it was anything that special (for riding at least; the views were terrific). It's rocky, but with rocks the size for riding over rather than around. Perhaps it's different on a full sus where you can crank up the speed a bit?

    Overall I would do the loop again, but I'd be interested in alternatives to get there. Before reaching Loch Coire Fionnaraich there is a left turn off on the singletrack that has a higher climb, but could be easier if it's rideable from the top as it'd miss the boggy section. Does anyone have any experience of this path?

    As for the loop of Liathach I cannot recommend that anyone ever attempts this on a bike! We went clockwise and thought we were off to a good start when the first 1.5-2 miles of the path were all ridable on the way up. But soon after it turns into a rocky, boggy mess and it doesn't let up for a few miles. The final descent may* be quite good, but for anyone who's interested it'd be much much quicker and far more enjoyable to just push to the top and ride down.
    I was surprised – or perhaps not really – to discover from 2 bikers we met coming the opposite direction that the route appears in Kenny Wilson's book!

    * The descent might be good but I didn't really get to ride it properly. Due to crappy Kenda sidewalls my (3 week old) tyre started to tear away from the bead at the beginning of the ride. By the end my inner tube was bulging out so much that there was nothing I could do to save the ride. So hours of pushing for NOTHING!

    [pics to follow]

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