Loch Shiel and Loch Morar – highland sumertime bikepacking and packrafting story
I have finally managed to get down my story of my solo summer bikepack trip in the West coast of Scotland. You can see the full story so far at http://niksbikingblog.blogspot.com/ – there will be another two parts posted over the coming weeks.
Here are some extracts and a couple of photos to give you a flavour…
Boat ready, I packed the bike and the two dry bags onto the bow. I could wax lyrical about how atmospheric this spot was, looking over to The Green Isle (Eilean Fhianain) to Ben Resipole blanketed in rolling cloud and low mist. But that’s what photos are for.
Although the quad track was reasonable, endless waterbars and cross-drains together with large rocks and a generally rough surface, combined with the added weight on my bike, made me walk more than I would have liked. I had a strange sense of isolation, after the bustle of Glenfinnan I knew I was heading for an overnight camp miles from anyone, miles from any road. well off the beaten track.
Posted 6 years ago13thfloormonkMember
That was absolutely brilliant, I was with you every step of the way down the trackless glen, have been there so many times in the last couple of years, although I’ve never had to indulge in any rock climbing! 😯
Fancied doing a (walking trip) following that route (from Glenfinnan at least), and your description should help me make my mind up!Posted 6 years ago
Thanks for all the replies everyone! It really makes it worthwhile putting this stuff up to know others get into it 🙂
d45yth – I didn’t know there were so many bikepacking forums! I’ll have to sign up there…
kennyp – The packraft weighs approx 2.7 kilos, the paddle about 800 grams, and the PFD about 500 (plus knife, PLB and emergency kit another 500 I guess), so thats about 4.5 kilos all in at a rough guess. I found it doesn’t make much difference on flat or gentle incline, but as things get steeper, I really notice the extra weight, especially once you add in the camping stuff, food, camera, radio, etc etc. So with say an extra 10 kilos, that is a consideration for sure on hills. Walking it felt fine TBH, and the weight was distributed in 4 places – handlebars, framebag, rear rack, and rucksack, so it was very balanced.
13thfloormonk – I have to say, I was not planning on rock climbing either. As I went down the glen, I was thinking to myself “this is crazy”. I don’t think I could have gone back the way without a herculean effort, and that slab would have really been hard to climb up!Posted 6 years agoOrangeChammyMember
Hey nick, wish I could have made it… where is the xc cannondale, what are you riding these days… Good to see a bit of adventure going on – I am dead keen to do a trip like this, not even been off road for ages excpet for bloomin CX races! (do they count?)
I’m saying this assuming you are the nick I know – I reckon there could only be one nick doing a pack raft trip in the highlands though 🙂
Stephen.Posted 6 years ago
Hi all – I have put up the second installment (day 2) of my trip, you can read it at http://niksbikingblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/highland-summertime-bikepacking-and.html. I seem to have written more than I had planned, so you may want to make yourself a cup of tea (or fix yourself a drink) before reading it!
(If you missed the first installment, you can see it at http://niksbikingblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/loch-shiel-and-loch-morar-highland.html )
Here is a couple of quotes and pics from it to give you a taste…
When I was planning the trip, I had imagined cycling and walking the length of the loch along the track marked on the map. However, the previous afternoons scramble up and down the glen, the steepness and bogginess of the general terrain, plus the absence of anything resembling any kind of reasonable track along the loch, the decision was an easy one. I’ll try the packraft. I inflated the raft, filled up my water bladder with water from the loch, and packed the bike and kit on it.
It must be lunchtime by now, so I assemble my bike and head over to the concrete end of the pier, set up the stove, have some oatcakes and cheese, and take in the view. The sun came out, and the wind died down. Bliss.
Posted 6 years ago
Stephen – yeh it’s me! Have to catchup sometime soon. This is the same bike, just a replaced frame, swapped over forks, new saddle, new tyres…
druidh – the 1st day pic colours were hard. I think I warmed them up a bit too much, and that has given them a pinkish tint. Is that what you are seeing?Posted 6 years ago
Well, I have managed to get part three up now, you can see it at http://niksbikingblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/highland-summertime-bikepacking-and.html
I poked my head outside. Lovely, it looked like it was going to be a cracking day.
I see there are three people on it, lounging about. Looks like bliss. I get closer, and one of them waves over at me. I wave back “Hi there!”, not sure if an ‘ahoy there’ would have been more appropriate. He calls back “Are you Nik?”. Surprised, I acknowledge I am he.
still s8tannorm – the boat is an Denali Llama.
Rik – yeh, the costs add up, same as for mountain bikes. The boat is about $850, plus paddle, plus PFD. I have had a load of use out of the boat, so it was worth it IMHO.Posted 6 years ago
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