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  • Phil McKane Scottish Wild Trails Book – Glen Garry Forest Loop?
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    Has anyone else done this loop out of the wee book of wild trails? I’ve done quite a few of the rides in this book but this one takes the biscuit so far! It’s basically 32km, ~1000m climb starting at South Laggan and heading to Invergarry, before climbing up and round the back of Sron a Choire Ghairbh and descending the Cam Beallach path. (Photo)

    It’s fire road, very scenic for the first 15km or so. Then boggy, unrelenting awfulness in a truly epic and remote glen for 10km and then a fantastic steep, rocky & fast descent down the Cam Beallach to South Laggan. I’ve got really mixed feeling about it, I don’t know whether I loved or hated it. The good bits were great, but there was two hours of dragging a bike through bog.

    edit: fix link


    I did this although I didnt get it from a guide book – was staying near invergarry and looked on the o.s. map for an interesting loop.
    The cam bealach descent is awesome but the 2 hour unrideable slog to get there just isnt worth it.
    I’m actually quite surprised that somone has included this in route guide book.


    edit: fix link

    Still no worky.

    Hmmmm. We were a bit grumpy after doing this ride. We got it out of that book and chose it as one of our group was just getting back into biking after back problems. If we had known about the amount of carrying/pushing involved we would never had done it but due to the description in the book and the red rating we thought it would be doable. Had to triple check the book after we had finished to see if we had missed something. The descent was really good but unless you can approach it from the west you’d be as well just riding it as an out and back. Nice pint on the canal afterwards though and the Great Glen Hostel was great.

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    Did you manage to find a discernible path? After we left the fire road, there was a manky boggy path that you could follow by the Scottish RoW Society posts. Then these ended and we meandered around the bottom of the steep bit of the hill. We would find a path, then it would disappear. Only as the Glen narrowed up towards Cam Beallach did we find a decent (relatively speaking, we could push rather than carry) path higher up the hill but I’m not sure where it came from. It’s possible there was a better path that we missed, but if there was it was very tricky to find on a 1:25 map. Not a red route anyway!

    We lost the path before we left the forest. Once out of the trees we kept finding bits of a path which would disappear quite quickly and then reappear randomly, sometimes up the slope a bit or down the slope a bit but it did seem to be very random rather than evenly vaguely in the same direction. I feel that if they are going to use a trail centre type of rating ie red, blue or black then the route should at least resemble the kiind of challenges found on those trails. If you can’t do that then don’t stick that kind of label on them.

    Me & Orange-crush did part of this ride last May while following the SSDT. We went from Clunes & up Glean Cia-aig, past the ruin at Fedden to the sections near Lochan Fhudair. Then we re-traced & went up to Cam Bealach. It was a bloody nightmare with, as Tomd says, no path to find till almost at the top of the Bealach. Why can’t writers explain whats there? At least you’d have some expectations of what your’e gonna find (or not)
    The descent to Lochy forest was good but not worth the hike.

    014 by jimmyg352, on Flickr

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    Thanks for the replies, I can see this turning into a support group for people who’ve survived this route.

    I’m just reading the book and laughing at the offending description:

    Turn R onto the trail that traverses the lower slopes of Meall a’ Choire Glais before climbing steeply to the summit of the Cam Beallach.

    I propose:

    Turn R and get repeatedly lost before stumbling onto a poorly defined trail that traverses the lower tussocky boggy slopes of Meall a’ Choire Glais for what feel like an eternity before climbing steeply to the summit of the Cam Beallach.

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    MTFU and try a Kenny Wilson route? 🙄


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    Having ‘eyed up’ this loop the last few times we’ve been up that way, I’m kinda glad I’ve read this thread! 😉 In a similar vein we recently followed a route from the ‘welsh’ version of these guides where a section was described as ‘ leading to a right hand hair-pin bend and a ‘very tough climb’ … What it should have said is leading to a ‘push/ carry’ [mostly] to the summit. I don’t mind a bit of that if I know it’s coming and to be fair I could tell from the map that we weren’t gonna be riding it, but it probably would help sometimes to differentiate.

    MTFU and try a Kenny Wilson route?

    Different bag of bones altogether … 😀 and he was lovely when we chatted to him one year at FortBill and interested to hear how you got on with his routes. Needless to say having sized him up as a proper mountain man I decided on ‘easy’ options. 😉

    I’ve just come across this thread – great to see some discussion on my book, and the Glengarry loop in particular.

    While there is a hefty boggy section I really loved the Cam Bealach descent and for that reason I thought the route was worthy of inclusion in the guidebook. It turns out that my Hike-a-Bike threshold is maybe a bit higher than average, as feedback received has led to that route being dropped from the reprint.
    In hindsight, I should have been a bit more descriptive of the terrain in the middle section. I still stand by it as a quality day out in some proper hills, though it is probably more in the “Kenny Wilson style” than a lot of other routes in The Wild Trails.

    In response to stevenmenmuir’s comment about the Blue / Red / Black grading of the routes – this is a tricky one. We are all familiar with the trail centre system and what to expect on each grade of trail centre trails. However I don’t think this is really applicable to anything outside a trail centre and it is confusing when that grading system is applied to other types of trail. Maybe a simple “easy / moderate / hard” would be a better way of grading this type of ride.

    Grading the rides was one of the most difficult parts of writing the book – weighing up physical difficulty / technical difficulty / remoteness / exposure etc , then assigning the balance of all those things a pretty colour is a very subjective thing and many of the routes it’s difficult to say if it’s at the harder end of red, or the easier end of black.

    Anyway, ramble over, I hope you guys are enjoying the rest of the book. If anyone wants a copy, they’re available (with a big discount) here

    Cheers, Phil

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