Blair Atholl to Ft William via Aviemore, with idiot Glen Tilt night ride content

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  • Blair Atholl to Ft William via Aviemore, with idiot Glen Tilt night ride content
  • With a long weekend booked, I had planned a four day ride from Blair Atholl train station to Ft William, via Glen Tilt, Lairig an Laoigh, Ben Alder, Kinlochlaggan, and the Corrieyairaick pass…

    I got off the train at 9:30 with half a mind to do Glen Tilt that night, or at least get to the Falls of Tarf. The night was so warm i decided to go for it, and rode up the glen with countless glowing eyes watching me from the hillside..

    A ruined, rusty bike at the trailside did not improve my state of mind, I could hear roaring water in the gorge ahead and was beginning to have doubts about how long my lights would last.

    The bridge by the Falls of Tarf. hearing and (just) seeing the falls by headlight at practically midnight was a pretty epic experience. Having to navigate the rest of the gorge by LED because my main lights failed, even more so.

    I had been aiming for a bothy slightly south of White Bridge, but ended up getting thoroughly lost as i had crossed the river far too early and ended up tramping about a bog at 2 in the morning. Eventually, after fording about four different rivers, I found the proper path which led to the ruin I had hoped was a bothy. Out with the tent then!

    I had my breakfast the next morning beside the Linn of Dee gorge, and messed about trying to photograph the red squirrells jumping about on the other side of the gorge.

    I had been warned off the Lairig Ghru so instead headed up Glen Derry and over the Lairig an Laoigh.

    This was the best of the Cairngorms I think. A brilliant route in the blazing sunshine, which eventually ended up on a big plateau with a vicious cross wind at about 800m. The descent down to Ryvoan was incredible, despite a rock bending my big ring and reducing me to twiddling the granny gear all the way down to bothy bikes…

    I had hoped to make Culra bothy that night, south of Dalwhinnie, but a 70km day was beginning to get the better of me and i stopped off at Newtonmore.

    Next day i headed down the shore of Loch Ericht to Loch Pattack, then up and over past Lochan Bealaich Leamhain and down to Lochan na Earba (see Kenny Wilson's "Glen Bogle" route). This was brilliant riding, although always a bit wet (lots of stops either for unrideable bogginess or easily destroyed trail bogginess). The descent was another blinder, although it looked to be on the cusp of disappearing altogether.

    The weather started turning a bit now, and i was feeling less inclined to stop and take so many pictures (I think plenty of people here know well enough what wet west coast hillsides look like anyway!). I climbed from Kinlochlaggan into Glen Shira, and up the largely desolate road to the bothy at the foot of the Corrieyairaick pass.

    The bothy was pretty crowded and the usual rowdiness ensued, with me doing an awful lot of the talking! (three days on my own was beginning to take its toll…).

    Unfortunately i have no pictures of the pass, although its not desperately scenic (think rocky, eroded landrover track, in the mist, with huge pylons looming over it). I did meet a huge group of coast-to-coasters sheltering behind the hut at the top, but the rain was truly horizontal at that point so we didn't linger. The descent to Ft Augustus was stunning. The combination of long forks, a lowered saddle and fat tubeless tyres resulted in a prolonged surf down loose wet rocks, drifting round corners and hopping from side to side like someone who didn't have four days worth of camping gear on their back (kudos to Wingnut rucsacs!).

    After about half an hour of constant descent i reached Ft Augustus but with four hours to catch my train at Ft William, I had to then resort to 45km of the Great Glen Way, with a stiff south westerly trying to blow me back to Ft Augustus. Misery.

    Having (eventually) made it to the train though, showered at the station, and bought myself some beer and crisps for the journey, i was able to sit back and relax after quite possibly the best four days I've had on my bike!

    Thanks to Stuartie_C and Duckman for the Cairngorms recommendations, I was dead set on doing the Lairig Ghru, to think i'd have missed the Bynack More descent!

    Premier Icon debaser

    Amazing looking trip and great photos. It's posts like these that make trawling through the pages of guff spouted on here worth it 🙂

    Reminds me that I really should get out and about in the Highlands more often.


    Blimey that's hard work – good effort.

    Premier Icon allyharp

    Looks great! Don't think I've be brave enough for solo night riding in places as remote as that though!

    cheers guys,

    Ally, if you'd been there i doubt you could have resisted, i was in short sleeves enjoying a mild tailwind the whole way. The noises the deer were making did make me stop at times though, there was at least one that sounded distinctly more 'howl' than 'bellow'… 😯

    Premier Icon swavis

    Nice work. That sounds truly epic. 😯

    I'd wondered what the Bynack More descent would be like. It sounds half decent 😉

    Awesome! Doing Glen Tilt at night sounds great.

    swavis – Bynack More descent is good yes. Did as a loop from Tomintoul once (up Glen Avon) and then Ryvoan Bothy and Glen Brown back to Tomintoul. Big day out, close to 50 miles if I remember correctly!)

    Premier Icon swavis

    Fancy doing it again shortbread?


    Thatlooks like a great trip, the night ride must have been fun, too 😉

    Yes….but I have a few other rides I'd like to try when I'm allowed out/weather is right!


    Don't you go doing it without inviting me Mr Swavis!!!



    what are the trail conditions like over Lairig an Laoigh?

    I'm doing it the other way round at the weekend then back down Geldie / Feshie.

    Can't vouch for the weather since friday, but when i rode it everything was bone dry, other than the section descending (as you'd ride it) to Glen Derry, but thats because there's a stream running down it.

    The peaty climbs/descents between Ryvoan and the Fords of Avon were in great condition. Had it been wet i'd have been trudging up and down an awful lot of trail!

    Someone on here was warning about conditions in Geldie and Feshie though, and there's signs up warning about a missing bridge that requires fording, refording and then fording the Feshie at some point.

    Premier Icon geoffj

    Flippin heck that looks excellent!


    Another ripping yarn 13thFM!

    I always enjoy reading your tales, despite being just a wee bit jealous that I'm at work. 2 weeks holidays coming up though – I might have to do something like that myself (unless someone else wants to join me…)


    Cheers Stuartie, keep me in the loop if you're extending invitations!

    Don't forget next May, i doubt i can manage 15 straight days with no-one to ride with, get yourself a weekend booked! 8)

    swavis – forgot to say, it can be pretty 'on and off' the bike from Faindouran Lodge (where the double track up Glen Avon ends) and the top of the climb up the side of Bynack More! As 13thfloormonk says it's quite peaty in places and rocky between Fords of Avon and Ryvoan. Can be quite boggy from Faindouran Lodge to Fords of Avon too. I think you'd want to do it after a relatively dry period.

    chriswilk – assuming you're heading back toward Glenmore after coming down Glen Feshie you wouldn't have needed to cross the bridge 13thFM refers too, although you probably know that. I rode Feshie and Geldie after the heavy rain 3 weeks ago and it was all fine, boggy at the watershed between each geln though.



    I know about the missing bridge and it won't affect me as we are heading back towards glenmore area to pick up the car.



    Its always good to see your trips in photo's. Gives me the madness for adventure. Im planning on going up the Pentlands tomorrow night if you feel like doing any more pedaling give me a shout.

    Doubt i'll be out of work before eight tomorrow dude, good to hear you're night riding though, am up for making it a regular affair this year, have got some new inner city singletrack to show you!

    Was thinking of you guys coming down the corrieyairaick, perfect Avalanche training…


    8 pm finishes suck, Im up for getting back into a routine as well, now that i have a bike with gears and stuff. Lets pick a night and get on it, i'm on 6 finishes now as well.
    will have to find a suitable filler for the hip flasks


    Truly epic. Some fantastic trails especially Glen Tilt at night!

    I went night riding near Kinloch Rannoch alone and I too got the spooks from all the rustling in the trees and the glowing eyes.

    I wouldn't go anywhere near Rannoch after hearing about the hedgehogs they have there, can take down fully grown pheasants apparently, sounds awfully like a bad nineties horror film…

    <couldn't find any Critters pictures>

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