Having sampled a numerous Skedaddle mountain biking trips in the UK and Europe we decided it was time to try something a bit closer to home and setting aside all concerns about the Scottish weather and decided our next mountain bike holiday was to be the Scottish Highlands Coast to Coast trip.
After the customary enthusiastic welcome from the Skedaddle guides in the form of Steve, Tony and Charley, we were immediately put to work trying to reassemble our bikes with the added interest of turning it into a bike building time trial – successfully completed from our point of view with only a minor need for adjustments by Steve! First place went to our token German but at least we didn’t come last (hey John !!)
The Flying V’s get ready for the action… With the Skedaddle van and landrover being replaced by a comfortable bus we then headed northwards to the Highlands. After a stop off in Fort William to stock up on Avon Skin So Soft as a first defence against the midges, we arrived at our first hotel in Glenshiels which set the tone for the holiday “ great accommodation, good food and a wonderful setting. Our first days biking: woke up, brushed hair, showered, dressed and went downstairs for bacon and eggs ¦¦During breakfast we were informed the day would comprise a sample of all the riding we would experience over the week. We weren’t disappointed – thrilling single track, rocky ascents/descents and the customary Skedaddle beer challenge – those impossible hills thrown in to perfect bike carrying techniques. After a great days introductory riding we arrived at Tomdoun. A beautiful hunting lodge hotel with great views and some nice Spanish bar maids to keep the boys happy.Next up was an easier day with a beautiful ride along the Caledonian Canal ending the day at Fort Augustus, finishing early to prepare for day 3 and the Corrieyairack Pass “ the start of the 3 best days of the trip.Despite some apprehension about the prospects of climbing the Pass for hours (can’t remember the time taken or the height gain) it was a great ride “ taken in easy chunks with plenty of jelly baby provision from Tony. With great encouragement from the guides, it was a challenging but doable climb leaving enough energy to enjoy the scenery. The descent was without doubt one of the best descents we have ever ridden (or not) and waiting at the bottom was lunch.The next two days provided great diversity in the terrain covering technical singletrack, woodland paths and rocky ascents/descents not to mention the odd river crossing and swim in the case of Charley. Supportive as always, Steve proved unplanned exits can happen to anyone with an over the handle bars into a peat bog. The guides had again arranged great accommodation and evening meals in Tomintoul and then in Ballater.Starting to feel overfed (although over generous measures of recovery drink may have had something to do with it), we needed a mountain to climb and conveniently found Mount Keane en route. There was no way we were going to ride all the way up this one “ even with encouragement and jelly babies!! After a good effort riding ¾ of the route “ on and off “ we put our practiced bike carrying skills in to play and were rewarded at the top with panoramic views of the Cairngorms National Park, Glen Tanar and the Spittal of Glenmuick (we think according to our reference map). Again a fantastic descent and quite manageable despite Tony’s lecture on the drainage ditches! With only an easy 15 miles left for our last day – a distance for which apparently snacks are just plain greedy (although we know Steve was trying to prevent us from buying extra large shorts next time) we had a leisurely road ride to the sea and the end of our coast to coast tour. It was sadly over too soon and we’d had so much fun that we just wanted to turn around and do it all over again!
For more photo’s from their holiday – click here.
For all our mountain biking trips in Scotland – click here