Scotland: Coast to Coast MTB trip

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  • Scotland: Coast to Coast MTB trip
  • west to east – prevailing winds behind you.


    Wow, a truly epic C2C, never heard it done before. Ive just done West Highland Way but yours a lot more of a challenge.

    You talking about as much off road as possible or looking for a mix of MTB and tarmac to de-epic it a bit?

    I guess Braemar, Linn of Dee, Glen feshie could be one part of it.

    And Corriarick pass Laggan to Fort Augustus.

    And Great Glen Way down to Fort William.

    The gaps you’d need to fill in would be Aberdeen to Braemar. Glenfeshie to Laggan. Fort William to Ardnamurchan. Not sure about those.

    Others might have different suggestions for ways to tackle it.

    A couple of sections I have walked or ridden that could be incorporated are Strontian to gltnfinnan and Kinlochleven to laggan.



    A friend of my mine and I are currently planning a mountain bike trip through Scotland and would be grateful for any help.

    We are considering a Coast-to-Coast trip, starting from Aberdeen and ending in Ardnamurchan (inspired by Wildernessscotland and similar trips

    We will travel light and won’t need any baggage transport. However, what we do need, is a detailed map and some general advice.

    Also, we were wondering if its preferable to travel from East to West or the other way round?

    Any ideas, comments or suggestions would be highly appreciated.




    Got some of our guys doing it at the moment, i’ll pass them a link to this thread when they get back (friday)


    Many thanks to all of you for your helpful & prompt replies.

    The time frame for the trip should be about one week, achieving approx. 60km a day – depending certainly on the terrain. Speaking of which – we want to do as much off road as possible.

    @ bri-72: the idea of riding from Aberdeen to Ardnamurchan came actually from some overpriced (self-)guided tours offered (wilderness scotland, as mentioned above or, for instance). So I guess we won’t be the first and only ones riding it :). Anyhow, many thanks for your ideas, I’ll check it out tomorrow.

    @ TandemJeremy: good point there about the wind. I’m very keen on finding out more about the sections you’ve ridden.

    @ tumnurkoz: much appreciated – anything that they’d share might ease our preparations.

    @ stuartm555: thx, I didn’t have the time to have read it completely, but seems like we will be passing through some of the sections described in the report


    Descriptions of those bits maybe you can incorporate them into a reasonable cross Scotland route.

    – I walked from Strontian to Glenfinnan tho I think it would be a good ride. The first section could be a hard singletrack climb over to polloch on lock Sheil or you could take the road, the second section from Polloch along lock sheil is easy double track. A couple of options on the climb as well. Obvious on the map.

    Kinlochleven to Laggan

    Obvuious climb up past mamore lodge – double track climb but a lot of it. rough at the top. Easy run along loch eilde Mor to the Abhainn Rath which is boggy singletrack to loch trieg where again you join double track up to corrour. Double track along Loch Ossian to the shooting lodge. Option here to go straight onto the east thru the Bealach Dubh by ben alder to dalwhinnie – serious hika bike followed by nice singletrack or as we did go north along strath ossian north to loch laggan. From there a delightfull route along beside Lochan nan hearba to the road west of laggan. You go right past laggan wolftrax and I believe there is more singeltrack alongside the road nowadays. that whole section is lovely and remote and the only tricky bit is a few miles along the Abhainn Rath

    Another section that may be of help is kingussie / glen Feshie / Geldie burn/ bramar – there is a cut thru from Kingussie into the side of Glen feshie from Drumguish past ruthven barracks. Obvious route out of Feshie to the east – the single track is rough and will be a mix of walk and ride I guess – the double track is easy and good.

    Photos adn routes on my flika

    20 Camping at Carrour

    01 Tobermory


    Thank you TandemJeremy

    I have a very basic question:

    Which maps do you usually take on these trip? OS maps Landranger or Explorer?

    Premier Icon danti

    There’s also a route from Fort William to Montrose in Scotland Mountain Biking – The Wild Trails (Vertebrate publishing).

    Done the route myself and enjoyed it – if you’re reasonably fit and start early ish you can cover Fort William to Fort Augustus to Laggan on the first day as a good portion is along the caledonian canal.

    Depending on your navigational skills you could ought to be able get away with Landranger, a back up GPS would be good as well.


    i thought about attempting to do this on the longest day in 24hrs…. possible?

    Maps – 1;50 000. Never had need for more, never rely on an electronic gadget.


    GPS is very useful though. I’m v good map at reading but it’s such a time saver just to look down at gps and know which way to go rather than pulling a map out every 10mins. Take the maps of course and keep an eye on where you are for when the gps breaks.

    I did Skye to Montrose offroad as much as possible as a pair with a mate of mine a few years ago. Brilliant.

    Teh only times I have gone the wrong way was because I was with someone with a gps who insisted on following it rather than actually navigating


    Well that person probably wasn’t used to the problems with gps. I’ve made mistakes too – it’s like everything else, preperation is important: you need to plan, imagine the routes, keep an eye on landmarks, compass etc..

    I’m sure people have made mistakes withs maps too and gps is just an aid afterall.

    Aye – thats the point – people use GPS instead of navigating.

    sorry – thread drift.


    apologies too.

    Just remembered that we did the west to east because of the prevailing wind.

    With the extra eight you’ll be carrying, your tiredness and clumsy riding at the end of the long days you might want to think about your rear wheel – plenty of pinch flats and broken spokes for me.

    >i thought about attempting to do this on the longest day in 24hrs…. possible? <

    Aberdeen to Ardnamurchan in a day? Off road? Err,no.

    Shorter stuff like Dornoch Firth to Ullapool is pretty easy – in fact there and back in a day isn’t that tough. Mostly estate tracks though…

    All the so called ctc routes that get banded about go around the big hills but the best mtb routes go over them ;-)Landrangers fine, GPS is just more junk to carry. Travel light, use Bunkhouses and pubs, enjoy the mountain biking.



    Going West to East, as suggested.

    Glendrian – Branault (Ardnamurchan) boggy and 50% bikeable, views are the reward. Ferns and ticks a slight issue at this time of the year.

    Branault to Kentra Bay 75% bikeable. Ferns really bad here as you leave Ockle.

    If you don’t take the above route you’ve got a lot of tarmac to leave Ardnamurchan.

    The guided version of your ride linked to above seems to intersect with the ‘traditional’ C2C at Fort Augustus and the lovely Corrieyairrack.

    The way I would do that is to go from Kentra Bay to Acharacle, hence to Salen to pick up the singletrack road north to the fireroad up the east shore of Loch Sheil. I’ve done that, but without an OS map in front of me I can’t think of how to reduce the tarmac. You’d also have tarmac from Glenfinnian to Corpach before you hit Neptunes Staircase and the Great Glen Way to Fort Augustus.

    The route variation taking in Luibelt/Loch Treig head Corrour is viable as mentioned above but I can’t type about everything 😀

    Use Landranger maps and practice map reading before you go if you don’t have experience. On a bike you can quickly cover the whole sheet of a 1:25000 so 1:50000 is better. I don’t use a GPS but plenty of folk I know do, but have a map and the knowledge to use as backup.

    MBA bothies on or close to your route at Glen Dhu Lighe, Invermallie, Blackburn of Corrieyairack, Ryvoan. Other bothies may be available (I’m a great fan of bothies).

    >regarding 24hours – hasn’t and can’t been done for a reason. I would be an interested spectator if someone wanted to try setting the fasted time for the classic Ratagan-Montrose route – couldn’t compete though, too old!<

    P.S. Why a guided company are taking people East to West is beyond me.


    Spent ages typing this from memory (and looking at streetmap to check), and probably much of the highlights will be suggested by others, but anyway…

    Something like this would probably give you the most off-road route through the widest part of the highlands. Parts are better ridden in opposite directions, but that’s inevitable on a route of this length. Parts of it I’ve never walked/ridden or anything else (mainly east of Mt Keen) so would be best to research more, and there would be some pushing/carrying.

    Fort William (road 2km) – Distillery – Leanachan – Lairig Leacach – Loch Treig – Loch Ossian – Uisge Labhair – Bealach Dubh (or Loch Ericht) – Ben Alder Lodge – (cross A9) – Allt Cuaich – Allt Phoineis – Wade’s Rd – Ruthven – Glen Tromie – Allt Bhran – Lochan an t-Stuic – Glen Feshie – Glen Geldie – Linn of Dee – (road/track by road 2km) – Morrone/Morven (cross A93) – Auchallater – Loch Callater – Jock’s Rd – Corrie Chash (or Capel Mounth) – Glen Muick (road 6km) – Mt Keen – Glen Mark – (cross road) – track to Tarfside – (road 500m) – track to Aucheen – Stobie Hillock – Water of Dye – Glen Dye – (cross road) – Fetteresso Forest – (cross road) – Cowrie Water – (road 3km) – Stonie bay.

    Dunno about the distance, a couple of hundred miles, with less than 10 miles on roads, a handful of road crossings. It avoids roads wherever possible, and hence passes through few significant population centres, although Corrour Station, Loch Ossian SYHA, and a few bothies are en-route. Detours to Dalwhinnie/ Kingussie, Braemar & Ballater would give options for B&B/hostels that could be used to split the route into 6 days as the OP wants and allow you to travel with day bag only – using one spare day for Ardnamurchan – Fort William.


    Sorry, it took me some time to get back to you guys. I first had to get a hold of some OS maps in order to have a more detailed look at the kindly suggested routes.

    We’ll use maps and take a GPS as a back up.

    We’ll do the trip from East to West as suggested by many.

    We’re considering changing the starting point from the point of Ardnamurchan to Kyle of Lochalsh. Access to both places is only given by bus. So whether we take the bus from Fort William to Kyle of Lochalsh or to the point of Ardnamurchan doesn’t really make a difference. We’re also thinking about spending the afternoon in the bike part of Fort William and then taking the coach to Kyle of Lochalsh.

    For which kind of bike repairs should we prepare ourselves?

    I assume you meant to type ‘West to East as suggested by many’?

    You can get a train to Kyle of Lochalsh, it goes via Inverness. Probably expensive but if you book far enough in advance it should be reasonable.

    Wouldn’t waste my time riding in Ft William, Witches Trails were a bit underwhelming I thought.

    Make sure you know how to look after wheels, a good set should shrug off the worst of the waterbars and rocks, but if you know how to look after them and check them at the end of every day, you’ll avoid any major disasters.


    Done it east to west and felt that the finish at Ardnamurchan was a better place to finish. Can see that the logistics of getting back could be difficult if unsupported. Also leaving the industry of Aberdeen behind on the first day seemed the better start. Great ride whatever.


    Yes, I meant to type West to East 🙂

    I already booked London to Fort William and Aberdeen to London. West to East is not up to debate any more 😉

    The train from Fort William to Kyle of Lochalsh takes ages, taking the coash is faster (2hrs). If I had booked it directly from London to Kyle of Lochalsh, this might have been faster.

    Haha, yeah that makes sense, the train from Ft William to Kyle of Lochalsh would go Ft William – Glasgow – Perth – Aviemore – Inverness – Kyle of Lochalsh. You’d basically have seen the whole bottom half of scotland in one train journey! 8)

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