Skye and Torridon comparison.

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  • Skye and Torridon comparison.
  • Premier Icon BoardinBob

    Just did a wee write up of my recent Torridon trip which included the circuit you’re looking at

    I did Torridon a couple of weeks ago for the 1st time. Re. camping, the midges were insane. By far the worst I’ve ever seen. Don’t even think about camping at the field at the countryside centre in Torridon. First night (Wednesday) they were bad, so I headed for the pub for some shelter. By the time I got back to the tent the wind was up slightly and they were all gone. Woke up Thursday morning and there was still a slight wind so no problems. Rode all day, got back at night, still windy so all is good. Friday morning and it’s still all clear. Got back after Friday’s ride…oh my god. Smidge and a midge net plus having all bare skin being covered ensured I wasn’t bitten but there were still massive clouds of them everywhere. I decided just to get into the tent at 6pm and stay there. A few hundred followed me into the tent so I killed them and just stayed locked in there. During the night I heard a bunch of other less prepared campers abandoning their tent and running for the youth hostel!

    I woke up on Saturday morning and it had been raining. I opened the tent door and discovered billions of them all over the tent. I had a left a silver camping table outside the tent, except now it was no longer silver it was black due to the billions of midges all over it. The air was thick with massive clouds of them. The field was wet, it was misty and there was no wind. Just horrendous. I had been planning another ride that day but I quickly folded the tent up, stuck it in the car and made my escape to Aviemore for some breakfast then on to Laggan and then Fort William.

    I’ve heard talk that there’s a campsite in Sheildaig with less midges, but the trade off is there’s no showers whereas the Torridon site did at least have a toilet block with showers. I really didn’t fancy going 4 days with no shower! In hindsight, I would have booked the youth hostel instead of camping.

    Riding wise I did a modified version of the Torridon circuit from here: … 1679632500

    Except at point 5, I took the fireroad to the right and pushed/ carried up Drochaid Coire Lair. That enabled me to do the Achnashellach descent which was just superb. From there I rejoined the loop and headed along the road to Coulags. The push/ carry from Coulags to the Bealach Na Lice is just horrendous. The section from Loch Coire Fionnaraich to the Bealach was soul destroying and a few times I considered giving up mountain biking for good! However from the Bealach, the descent to Annat is awesome. The more popular alternative to this route is to start from Annat and push up to the Bealach, then from there push up to Bealach Ban and into Coire Lair in order to do the Achnashellach descent. I opted to do my route to get more actual riding miles in and the section past the Coulin Lodge was really nice. I reckon from Annat to Coire Lair would be pushing and carrying all the way.

    Day two was the Beinn Damph loop … 6306351250

    Easy enough to navigate, though I explored the trails behind the Torridon Hotel rather than ride along the road to the start of the Loch Damph track. Nothing amazing in there but better than riding on the road. From there the fireroad tracks along the side of Loch Damph then you pass a cottage and the single track begins. The trail here is flat but very, very wet. Despite a dry summer I was surprised at how wet. It was rideable, but barely in places. Follow that alongside Loch Damph until you reach a river with a bridge that’s no longer there. Turn left there and an obvious single track trail leads you up into Strath a’ Bhataich. More rideable stuff here than the previous day but still a lot of pushing and carrying. Just keep following the trail until you reach Drochaid Coire Roill. From there it’s pretty much downhill all the way and the descent is awesome. The first part is loose, rocky and technical. Once you reach the stream turn left and walk about ten yards and you’ll find an easy place to cross. On the other side it’s a fantastic descent down into the trees. It has a bit of everything with loads of rocks and rooty sections. Just blast down the trail until you come to the road, cross the road and follow the trail signposted for the hotel. This whole descent was awesome and you can really let rip. I managed to get the 2nd fastest Strava time down it which was nice. Grab a well deserved pint in the hotel.

    Day 3 was supposed to be Coire MhicNobaill … lNumber162

    But the midges and weather ruled that out so it was a quick blast at Laggan then a day at the Nevis Range WC track to finish off my trip.

    Other than the midges, my other top tip is go tubeless. At a conservative estimate I reckon I would have had 20+ punctures. The trails are so rocky and the drainage channels will catch you out at some point. Going tubeless the week before was probably the best decision I’ve ever made!


    The most obvious difference is the amount of climbing/ descending. The Skye loop you post is relatively flat (despite no real climbs it’s deceptively hard work), the Torridon loop involves a sizeable pass (or two at least if you do a better route based on the one you posted) and you are likely to want to carry the bike in places. Basically you feel you are riding through the mountains, rather than below them, and will have more (or steeper) climbing and descending.

    Secondly, I find the Torridon route is more immediately rewarding – all road sections are quiet, gentle spins, unlike the A87 if you time it wrong, the climbs are quite rideable and enjoyable (the carrying not so much), the descents are amongst the best I’ve done anywhere, and the scenery and feeling of being in the mountains is unsurpassed (though it’s largely an illusion as you never get that high nor very far from civilisation). For those reasons I would go for it despite your concerns (for reference I’m definitely a mincer and ride HT or rigid) unless you really didn’t enjoy the riding on the Sligachan loop. You don’t have to do it again if you don’t like it though.

    Assuming you go for it I’d amend your route from marker 5, west past the bothy and then south to Achnashellach station (track obvious on OS and visible on the ground unless deep snow). The descent is fantastic (though very definitely more technical than the estate track/ road you follow otherwise). There are two obvious options to get back from the Coulags turn off – either involves a carry and I’m not sure which I prefer. Again, both obvious on the OS, the first option (west before the loch) is perhaps easier to follow if that’s an issue.

    I’d also suggest that if you were to start from the train at Achnashellach, you can do the easy spin to Coulags, get the carry out of the way early, descend to Annat, break in Torridon if necessary, and know you have an easy scenic option (your route) or the variation posted above (nice climb past bothy and great descent) depending on what you made of the outward leg.

    Premier Icon bedmaker

    The Skye route is awesome for scenery and surroundings but the riding is pretty meh.
    Torridon is among the best riding anywhere, a bit of hikeabike, yes, but the payback is immense.


    Heading up to Torridon in a few weeks to do
    Torridon circuit
    and i’d dearly love to know how it compares to…
    Sligachan loop

    Did the skye loop earlier in the year and found it hard, both mentally and physically. If i’m honest, i suspect i may have enjoyed it more just walking out to camasunary bothy for the night.
    I would just like to know(from someone who has done both)whether i should expect a simialr sort of terrain and trail.
    I thank you for your time.

    Premier Icon BoardinBob

    If I’m honest, the Annat descent and Beinn Damph descent would be better as out and back rides on the same day. Push up both and ride back down. Incorporating them in a loop, especially the annat descent, is a tough slog. Tremendous sense of achievement but I wouldn’t rush back to do either loop, just the descents.

    Premier Icon rickon

    In a few words:

    Go to Torridon for the riding, *not* Skye.

    Skye’s riding is a disappointment, Torridon is world class.

    Premier Icon rickon

    Reread your post 🙂

    Torridon is totally different. Its not flat. The two reports above echo my experience.


    Done both of these routes and would agree with pretty much all of the above, but the great thing about both is the sense of achievement of riding(and carrying) through some of the best scenery in the world!! Is this not what mountain biking is about?


    Meant to say Torridon is better in answer to your original question.

    Premier Icon tomd

    Skye’s riding is a disappointment, Torridon is world class.

    Bollox about the riding on Skye. They are different for sure, Skye has it’s own rewards. Torridon is ace though.

    For the OP – the Sligachan singletrack is quite tough going as you know but there are no real ups and downs. So you have to keep working hard to get a rhythm going. We did with a group earlier this year and it really wore some people down. That loop you posted in Torridon is very different, you’ll certainly be able to ride a lot of it as it’s on roads and tracks. The downhill to finish is rocky but in some ways easier than sections of the Sligachan singletrack.

    Premier Icon rickmeister

    Ascending from Annat, I thought that there would be a lot of pushing but was surprised how much was bikable and how quickly the Bealach came up.

    Personally on this route I carried the bike rather than pushed. I find pushing on rough ground more tiring as it seems its a constant heave – ho over things.

    Edit, we considered the Slig route as shown by the OP, and considered teh amount of road involved on a summer day with loads of cars, so did a Slig – Camasunary out and back which we really enjoyed. Time to see the Cuilins from both ways and appreciate the scenery.

    Camping at Slig is also midge central..

    Plan B on Skye, go for the Quirang… great route made better on a clear day.

    Leave the Idrigil Point loop as its a bog ridden push-fest

    Premier Icon clareymorris

    They don’t compare, they are tiotally different and both fab. However if travelling to one or the other to mountain bike I would pick Torridon.

    Rickmeister I totally agree the Slig route is a cracking out and back route..

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