Monday, 20 July 2015

Coast to Coast

There is something undeniably special about crossing the UK from coast to coast, as the many classic walking and biking routes attest to, and gives a real sense of purpose to the journey. In Scotland we are blessed with many options for coast to coasting, with most taking several days or longer by bike or foot. One that doesn't, and can be completed in a day, is linking Ullapool on the North West coast to Ardgay/Bonar Bridge on the East by means of the old drove route connecting the two. In days of yore clansmen would drive their cattle through the mountains to the markets (trysts) on the East coast. This 57km route now provides a wonderful biking route, never technical, but mostly off road on good land rover tracks.  Linear routes always present the question of how to get back to the start, but in this case there is no need.  Ullapool can be reached by the great "bike bus" service with D&E coaches from Inverness, and there is a train station at the finish to whisk you back to Inverness. Perfect! It is testament to the fun of this route that despite yesterday being wet +++, we were still smiling by the end as we posed by the Kyle of Sutherland for a photo. Although technically easy, this route takes you into remote terrain where you need to have the right equipment and the knowledge of how to use it if things go wrong. There are a couple of bothies along the route that provide a welcome temporary haven if the weather turns bad, that are worth knowing about and researching prior to your trip. If you get to Bonar Bridge I can recommend the excellent Monach House bed and breakfast to dry out, and the Bridge Hotel for a well deserved pint! 

Monday, 13 July 2015

National Navigation Award Scheme (Silver)

Over in the West Highlands around Fort William and Kinlochleven over the last couple of days running a private National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) Silver course for new client Heidi. Heidi had plenty of experience in less mountainous parts of the UK and had previously completed her NNAS bronze award. A good feel for the map and how it relates to the ground meant she had a strong base to build on, and it was great to see her progress over the two days. We spent two long days looking at taking a bearing from map to ground and following it accurately, measuring distance travelled using timing and/or pacing, coarse vs fine navigation and attack points, aiming off etc etc. By the end of the two days she had more than shown her ability to navigate accurately across stretches of open country. The first day we made use of the hills to the South of Roybridge and the River Spean, on the second we were in the unfrequented hills to  the east of Kinlochleven. Both of these venues were perfect for our purposes, and even the mist and drizzle was a bonus for these days, really allowing some "poor visibility" navigation. A Pass at Silver award for Heidi---well done and thanks for your company.

For more info on the NNAS scheme see our webpage:

Monday, 6 July 2015

A mini adventure

A mini adventure on the train today. With heavy rain and possibly thunderstorms forecast for later in the day it was up with the lark and off early into th Cairngorms. The plan, to bike the old drover's route (historic cattle driving route) from Kingussie to Blair Atholl via the Gaick pass. I was keen to try out my recently serviced bike 
( thanks Mark at OrangeFox bikes!), which definitely felt a lot better post servicing! Beautiful warm day with plenty of sunshine, and after 50+km it felt good to stop and be whisked back to the start by train.

Glen Tromie in the morning light

A still day

Does it get any better?


Big sky----the whaleback just to the right of the cottage on the skyline is Schiehallion

Journey's end, well, the self-propelled part........

Friday, 3 July 2015

More alpine trekking and climbing

Great weather continues in the French Alps, and we have been making the most of it, with some wonderful days out in the hills. The pictures say it all and there is also a video on our Facebook page:

Cirque de Fer a Cheval


Arete de Doigt, Pointe Percee

Descent from Pointe Percee