A few weeks back we introduced the forthcoming Muckmedden ‘Cream o’ the Croft MTB Festival which kicks off on June 17th. Pete Scullion went up to meet the organisers, to get you the full story. Images Ian Potter and Pete Scullion. Here’s what to expect …
Nestled between the A9 and the A84 lies Strathearn, a sleepy, lush green glen full of industrious locals, keen to show off what the area has to offer. Whether that be food, accommodation or things to do with your spare time.
It’s in this spirit that Cream o’ the Croft was born. Not just an enterprising events organiser looking for the best place to hold the next must-do event. No, what this festival is out to achieve is to put Strathearn on the map and have the most fun whilst doing it. All these ingredients are then poured into the Muckmedden family and fun-focused mould to produce the jewel in their crown.
For many, the venue, Comrie Croft is a great venue for bashing out the runs, or roaming further afield into the hills that lie to the north. Trails are available from the family-friendly blue routes to more challenging reds and blacks, as well as a pumptrack, dual slalom course, a skills loop and a jump park. Whatever you might want to go ride, Comrie Croft has it covered. The 2016 event will also be hosting a round of the Scottish Bike Trial Championship, with a course built specifically for this event in the heart of the event village.
The Croft is far from a one trick pony, it’s in the converted 18th Century farmstead that an event like this really comes to life. It’s true that this festival could easily be run without the bikes, there’s really so much on, but where would be the fun in that?
In the main farm courtyard the pumptrack competition will be the most central of events, being based just beyond the bar and the live music and rodeo bull. Step into the freshly-converted barn and it’s clear that once the racing has come to a close, there’ll be plenty of hair being let down here.
As diverse as the trails on offer at Comrie Croft are the events that are held upon them. A 9 stage enduro takes in all of the graded trails, the dual slalom course and XC stage, as well as a hill climb and black downhill. This certainly won’t be an enduro that will play to the retired downhiller, but offer something for everyone. A kids’ mini enduro means the whole family can get involved as well, not just Mum or Dad.
Once the racing is over, there’s still plenty to keep everyone entertained. A bustling Velo Village, Live Bands, Petting Zoo, Circus Skills Workshop, Craft Sessions, Bouncy Castle, Slack-line, Storytelling, Giant Water Slide, Inflatable Fun Run, Face-Painting, Bike Drag- Racing, Light Chaser, Random Raffle, IPA Blind Taste Challenge and a late night Silent Disco should pass an hour or two.
For anyone needing their bike fixed, or their retail fix, Comrie Croft Bikes have recently opened a fully-stocked shop and pro workshop on site. Whether it’s a mid-race disaster, a pre-race tune up or just picking up some supplies for the racing ahead, pop in and they’ll get you back out on the bike in a jiffy. Anyone wanting to join in on the riding, but doesn’t have a whip to hand, mountain bikes can be hired from the shop as well. No excuses!
To keep everyone fuelled throughout the day, food and drink will be provided by the team headed by Iain Hansen, of Hansen’s Kitchen in Comrie. Specialists in local produce and food that everyone can eat, even those with the pickiest of tastes. Behind the deli you’ll find Highland Coffees, roasters of their own coffee on site. You can be sure that you’ll get that much needed kick first thing after one or two of their locally-brewed IPAs the night before. Beware the gluten free beer, it tastes a little too much like elderflower and disappears far too quickly. Make sure you try the cheese from just over the road, made in a refurbished former army barracks. If that’s not enough, the on-site cafe boasts many home-made cakes and savouries, the chorizo frittata being of note. Those needing a brew before heading out for the day can grab one here too. The ‘100 Mile Shop’ covers the remaining, if any, bases, with all the wares sourced from, you guessed it, within a hundred mile radius of Comrie Croft.
Once you’ve ridden, slid, danced, petted, drunk and eaten yourself into oblivion, take advantage of the unique sleeping options a short stumble from the main event arena. The farmhouse itself is now a bunkhouse with full kitchen facilities, which no doubt will host much of the overnight festival goers come June. Beyond that, the Croft offers several Nordic Katas, similar to tipis, sporting an Alpine bed and wood burner for a slightly different sleeping experience. Feel like a Medieval king as you relax on your animal furs and feel slightly closer to nature than your usual overnight stop. Camping is also cheap and plentiful for those wanting to make the most of the summer’s warmth and sleep under the stars.
Pigeon-holing Cream o’ the Croft isn’t so straightforward. Most summer festivals have too many mud-swimming, booze-swilling lunatics to get the kids involved, most bike races offer nothing for anyone that isn’t racing and doesn’t want to carry a chainsaw into the woods to scream at riders, and most weekends away with the family are too much of a compromise for everyone to get stuck in. Why compromise? Get yourself and the family along to Cream o’ the Croft between the 17th-19th June and get stuck in!
Full schedule and tickets are available now at creamothecroft.co.uk Here’s the video taster …