Meet your guides in Scotland

Meet your team of local mountain bike guides in Scotland

We have an incredible team of expert local mountain bike guides in Scotland, who are all hugely passionate about sharing the trails, history, culture, and landscapes of their home, here in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Our guides hail from all over the Highlands, from the Cairngorms National Park, to Fort William, to the wild west coast. They come from a host of diverse backgrounds, but what they all have in common is their love of mountain biking, the Highlands, and sharing all this with like-minded adventurers from around the globe.

Here’s your chance to meet your mountain bike guides in Scotland, before coming to share with them their favourite trails!

Emma

Emma Holgate is the newest member of the H+I Adventures team in Scotland, bringing with her a wealth of guiding experience in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and immense mountain biking skills. Emma was also a police officer for many years, so her people skills and patience are second-to-none.

Kevin

Kevin Henderson is our resident poet and artist and, after a big day on the bike on the coast-to-coast or Cairngorms Adventure, Kevin can often be seen in a comfortable chair with a wee dram in his hand, reciting poetry from Scottish and international authors to a rapt audience. Kevin is always a very calming influence on an adventure and has been part of the team for several years now.

Chris

Chris Gibbs, or ‘The Bear’ as he’s often referred to, has a special talent for coaching as well as guiding. He really enjoys giving skills advice on the trails, helping you to make the most of your adventure in the Highlands, and to go home a better, more confident mountain biker. Chris also has a fondness for very colourful and…unusual… bike wear!

Alex

Alex Glasgow is our resident race-head, with a selection of impressive results under his belt in cross-country racing and triathlon. Alex has been part of the H+I Adventures team from the beginning and he loves nothing more than guiding a group of fit riders across the Highlands on our coast-to-coast adventure. Getting him to stop is the tricky part.

Jono

Jonathan Baldwin (‘Jono’) has switched from feeding 5,000 soldiers in Afghanistan every day, to living his dream to work in the outdoors as a mountain bike guide in the Cairngorms. Jono’s career in the army means that he isn’t easily flustered, which is always a good thing for mountain bike guides in Scotland!

Mark

Mark Clark spends most of his waking hours riding his bike round his local trails in Fort William – which means he’s a very skilled mountain biker! Mark also has a degree in adventure tourism and, in addition to pulling some impressive bike moves, he can also pull out some really interesting, little-known facts about the Highlands.

Ross

Ross Dunn was born and has lived his whole life in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park, where his love of mountain biking has developed into a passion. After his bike, Ross’ second love is his Landrover Defender, which he has been painstakingly restoring for some years now.

Steve

Steve Bradley’s love of two wheels started with motorbike racing, which he got pretty good at! It was his daughter who first introduced Steve to the joys of mountain biking and now he can usually be found riding or building trails, and organising races in his local woods around Fort William.

Biking, wildlife, history & whisky in the Cairngorms National Park

Experience adventure in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

4,528 square kilometres in area. Five out of six of Scotland’s highest mountains. Home to 25% of the UK’s most threatened bird, animal and plant species. Over one million visitors a year. It’s safe to say that the Cairngorms National Park is a truly special place.

The mountains of the Cairngorms were formed over 40 million years ago, and during the last Ice Age the glacial erosion created rounded summits and rolling valleys which make for gradual climbs and excellent descents. There are trails to suit mountain bikers of almost any level, which is why we’ve based ourselves in the National Park for our fabulous Cairngorms Adventure mountain bike tour.

Here are a few particular highlights of this unforgettable Highland adventure:

Unlocking Loch Garten

The legacy of the glacial impact on the Cairngorms means that it is a patchwork of lochs and rivers. One of the most significant of these, in terms of a natural habitat for native wildlife, is Loch Garten. Not only is it home to the famous Osprey, but you can also spot the extremely rare Crested Tit, found only in this part of the Scottish Highlands. Keep your eyes peeled for both!

As well as experiencing the beautiful wildlife, you’ll be steeped in natural history as you pedal the trails around the loch. You will ride through Glenmore and Abernethy Forests, home to some of the last remaining native Caledonian Pine forests in Scotland, and further highlighting the uniqueness and importance of the Cairngorms National Park to the ecology of Scotland, and indeed, the UK.

As well as the mesmerising scenery and wildlife that you’ll experience on your Cairngorms Adventure, we have made sure that this is perfectly complimented with some outstanding mountain biking trails.

The Cairngorms are home to some of the most enjoyable and flowing singletrack trails that Scotland has to offer, and they’re also perfect for building skills and confidence on the bike.

Trail highlights include swooping down singletrack at the fantastic new trail centre at Glenlivet; negotiating the forest around Feshiebridge; and – on your day in the Inverness area – an amazing descent to the banks of Loch Ness. Having such world-class trails within an area of such beauty and history will guarantee that a smile will be etched upon your face all week!

A “dram” good trip!

One of Scotland’s finest traits is the amazing selection and diversity of its whiskies. This is particularly evident in Speyside, home to the largest concentration of whisky distilleries in the country. The geography and glacial formation of the Cairngorms producing mountains (literally!) of fresh water means that this is ideal whisky country, with approximately 50 distilleries in operation in the area. Of course, we wouldn’t let you leave our tour without sampling some of our best brands!

Aberlour’s famed distillery will tell you of origins dating all the way back to the Druids and Celtic ages, where they believed the burn next to today’s distillery site spoke words of wisdom to them, hence the name Fairy Hill. In the 19th century, James Fleming started work on the distillery that remains today, with the iconic waterwheel used to power the whole building right up to the 1960’s still standing. Once you have been sufficiently wowed by the history of the distillery, you will of course take part in a tasting session and have the chance to bottle and label your own whisky. Cheers to that!

However, this will not be your only whisky experience of the day, as we take you through to the charming village of Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands, and home to Whisky Castle. With over 100 years of trading all over the country, the shop now boasts over 500 single malt whiskies. Needless to say, this is as close to a whisky Mecca as you can get for the enthusiast!

This is but a taster of the week that awaits you in the Cairngorms. Other activities you will enjoy along the way include a a day’s guided canoeing on the river Spey, a wildlife walk in the Caledonian Forest and even some time for Nessie-spotting on the banks of Loch Ness. The whole tour is fit to burst with amazing stories, culture, and of course mountain biking. When you join us on our mountain biking adventure in the Cairngorms National Park what tales will you take back with you?

A taste of the Cairngorms, Scotland

World-class food and drink in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, by H&I Adventures guide Chris Gibbs

My two great loves in life are riding a bike and enjoying great local food.

Whilst working towards becoming a mountain bike guide I had many jobs that allowed me to train, gain qualifications, and replace the numerous bike parts I broke in the process. These included everything from soundtrack writer, to outdoor instructor, to chef.

I’ve always been passionate about good food and have been lucky enough to travel through many different countries, tasting my way through local dishes and getting to know new cultures through their cuisine. A good meal often stays with you for a long time, and can make an adventure even more memorable!

I’m very lucky to now live in the Cairngorms National Park, in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland, which is home, not only to incredible mountain bike trails, but also to some of the best local produce in Britain.

The Cairngorms have a history of food and drink production dating back hundreds of years. Over 75 percent of the Cairngorms National Park is owned by private estates, each of them producing and supplying exceptional local ingredients to the surrounding area, and indeed, the whole of the UK.

One of the most distinctive and iconic flavours of the Highlands is venison. Rothiemurchus Estate, just outside Aviemore, has been supplying famous London restaurant Simpson’s in the Strand with venison since the 1930’s, a time when this fine meat was only accessible to the wealthiest households. It is now much more widely available and can often be found on menus across the country, which can be attributed in part to the fact that venison is lean, low-fat and full of flavour.

In the Cairngorms you are never far from a river and this provides an extremely fertile farming environment. The farming here is low intensity, which benefits the land and creates a habitat suitable for many types of plants and wildlife that would otherwise no longer exist here. For example, the vast moorlands of heather that bloom in the Cairngorms in July and August provide the perfect nectar for bees to produce sweet heather honey – delicious on a freshly baked scone!

Chocolate fudge cake and fresh Scottish raspberries - the perfect combination!
Chocolate fudge cake and fresh Scottish raspberries – the perfect combination!

Other delights for those with a sweet-tooth include sumptuous strawberries, brambles and raspberries grown on Alvie Estate, who supply their fruit to local shops and restaurants to create other sweet temptations to enjoy after a big day on the bike.

It would be remiss of me to talk about the produce of this part of Scotland without mentioning the world-famous Speyside whiskies, made from the clear, fresh waters the come from the mountains and rivers around the Cairngorms National Park. Speyside boasts the highest concentration of whisky distilleries in Scotland, producing well-known brands of our ‘liquid gold’ such as Glenlivet, The Macallan and Glenfiddich.

The whisky industry is closely linked with many other food industries, for example, salmon and trout caught in the River Spey, Scotland’s second longest and fastest flowing river, are often smoked in whisky barrels, giving them a fantastic, unique flavour.

Conversely, some locals might also argue that an even more iconic taste of the Cairngorms is that of the local beers brewed at the Cairngorm Brewery.

There’s nothing better than a nice cold craft beer after a big ride, and with an extensive range of permanent cask ales and seasonal brews, the Cairngorm Brewery has beers to suit all tastes. The best-selling Trade Winds has won numerous awards and it’s hard to find a decent bar in the area that doesn’t have it on tap. Black Gold is the big brother of the beers based on a traditional Scottish stout recipe and won the UK’s Supreme Champion of Beers award in 2013.

Local food and drink production is thriving in the Cairngorms National Park and the quality of the ingredients and dishes available here is world-class. The connection between mountain biking in the hills and forests of the Cairngorms, then enjoying a meal produced from this very environment is really special to me and I’m looking forward to sharing all this with you on our Cairngorms Adventure tour!


Customer reviews of our mountain bike tours around the world

This blog is dedicated entirely to customer reviews of the mountain bike tours and adventures they have experienced with us around the world. Our customers’ views of our mountain bike holidays are infinitely more important than ours, so we’ll stop talking now…

Coast-to-coast Scotland, June 2012
Romy and Alain, Luxembourg

First of all a big thank you to the guides who made this adventure just perfect. Riding the most fantastic singletrails was a big part of a day. We definitely enjoyed the second part too where we were hanging out together in the nicest places sharing funny moments. Still bunny hopping through our dreams; we already miss Scotland.

Mountain biking Torridon & Skye, Scotland, June 2012
Jim King, Canada

We had fantastic weather, only a wee bit of the real Scottish stuff. It was a nice way to see a very dramatic landscape. We had some really fun rocky singletrack to ride, both up and down. Torridon was great riding. The accommodation were some very friendly B&B’s, and Euan, our guide, instructor and Scottish historian, kept us well fed (boy that pudding was good) and well connected (there’s wifi almost everywhere). It was a very memorable holiday with new and old friends.

Mountain biking in Oaxaca, Mexico, October 2011
Cynthia, USA

This adventure is a great cultural biking experience. Welcoming and friendly local guides, fantastic food, amazing biking, breathtaking views, and fun company made this trip truly memorable!

Mountain bike holiday in Spain, March 2012
Mark Henry, Scotland

Fantastic trails, from nice and flowy to technical and rocky with switch backs to die for. Beautiful scenery, sunny skys, amazing white mountain villages. Accommodation and food just superb.

Mountain biking in the Cairngorms, Scotland, June 2012
Gary and Dorothy, USA

We wanted a trip which wasn’t going to be too difficult for one of us, but challenging enough for the other. The trails were great, giving us a varied experience through out the week. Along with the great rides, we thoroughly enjoyed the evenings, spending time with the other riders and guides. H&I Adventures is definitely a first class operation!

Coast-to-coast Scotland, May 2012
Gavin and Elaine, Scotland

This is a fantastic tour through some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland with some of the best riding we have experienced. Even coming from Scotland, it was great doing this guided tour as all of the thinking was done for us (where to ride, navigation, accommodation, where to eat etc).

Mountain biking in Oaxaca, Mexico, October 2011
Lindsay Carruthers, Scotland

Fantastic trip! If you want to see and experience the proper Mexico whilst riding some world class trails, look no further, thoroughly recommended.

Mountain biking Torridon & Skye, Scotland, May 2012
Fernando, Spain

An amazing bike trip. Best way to know awesome landscapes, trails and people, and all of it put together with a fantastic guide. The food and acommodation are really good. The Torridon area is unforgettable and what can I to say of Skye…. uffff.
If you are thinking about this trip, no doubt any more, do it!!

You can read all our customer reviews, find out more about H&I Adventures, and even meet your guides in the Why H&I Adventures? section of our website. If you’d like to find out more about any of our mountain bike adventures around the world, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Meet your mountain bike guide Kevin Henderson

Our mountain bike guides in Scotland are all passionate about mountain biking in this beautiful country. And none more so than Kevin Henderson, who is not only a great guide, but also a genuinely nice person with lots of interesting stories to tell, over a ‘wee dram’ in the evening!

Name: Kevin Henderson
Home town: Abernyte, Perthshire, Scotland
Bikes: Yeti SB66; Kona Big Unit 29er singlespeed
Favourite trails: for chasing down friends, definitely Torridon, Drumguish and Laggan Wolftrax in the Cairngorms National Park
Most known for: composing poetry while riding alone, which often ends ‘wheels up’!

“My first mountain bike was a red one. I got that first bike in the summer of 2004 when I lived on the Carse of Gowrie in Perthshire, and I rode it between the farmers fields, through all the mud I could find. I soon discovered the mountains of Highland Perthshire and big days out exploring in the Cairngorms. Enduro race events followed, and somewhere on this short timeline I began running mountain biking, visual art and literacy clubs for primary school children in association with an Active Schools group.

“Today I still live in Perthshire, but up on a hill now. I ride nearly every day. And while the bike has changed (it’s white, a bit lighter) and I’m a bit better at staying on it (mostly!) my love of riding in Scotland, and in the Highlands in particular, has only got deeper with time.”

Cairngorm mountain bike holiday

Driving down the A9 (main trunk road to the Highlands) on a day like this is not too bad at all. The skies are clMountain biking through the Cairngormsear and the sun is warm.  All along the side of the road and in the hills there are people out walking, cycling and enjoying the Highland summer.  I am on my way to Edinburgh airport to pick up a group of mountain bikers who are joining us for a week of XC mountain biking around the Cairngorms in the heart of the Highlands.

The group I am waiting for is arriving from the south of France and clearly they’re surprised to arrive in Scotland to blue skies and sunshine, as they arrange an impromptu photo call outside the airport terminal.

Soon, we are heading north to the Cairngorms, stopping first at Laggan Wolftrax to build the bikes, grab some lunch and stretch our legs around the fantastic trails, graded from green to double diamond black.  After a few hours of fun, we make tracks to our large holiday home in the heart of the Cairngorms were we spend the week socialising and enjoying amazing trails.  We get settled in and lay claim to our bedrooms before meeting up again in the lounge to have a beer and chat over the week ahead. Dinner tonight is a BBQ consisting of locally-sourced beef to go along with our nice French wine!

Mountain biking in the Cairngorms, ScotlandAfter our first breakfast together we set about fettling with bikes and getting kit prepared for a big day in the Cairngorm hills.  Thanks to the fabulous location of the house, we ride straight from the door most of the week, only needing to pack the car on a couple of occasions.  Most of today is spent diving in and out of the woods, and nipping down hidden snaking singletrack with the guys all shouting directions to each other and saying, ‘We would never have found these trails on our own.’  On returning to the house the BBQ is fired up and the wine is open before their helmets are even off; here we go again!

You would think after two late nights and a full day on the bike I would be waiting around in the morning, but no, they are outside waiting for me!? We set off for the higher tops around the Aviemore area today. We spend the morning working our way up one of the more challenging climbs that summits at an awesome vista where we have lunch before setting about a mouth-watering descent that drops us into the valley and a nice flowing singletrack that takes us back to our base in time for…yes you have guessed it: BBQ and wine!

We decide, the next day, to travel further afield to ride at Golspie, with its long climb and the longest man-made descent in the UK.  We make an early start so that we can get a couple of runs in before lunchtime, and the guys can get a round of golf in during the afternoon.  For our evening meal we stop in at Inverness to have an Italian meal on the banks of the River Ness, before making our way back to Aviemore for the night.

Day 5 is an epic! We decide to leave Aviemore early in the morning with the aim of riding to Braemar which is situatedMountain biking in the Cairngorms, Scotland on the opposite side of the Cairngorm massif, so no mean feat.  With bags packed with enough food to feed an army and, as I later find out, a bottle of red wine for our grand lunch on a Cairngorm hillside, we set off for the day’s adventure.  Apart from sweet singletrack, an awesome descent and a gourmet hillside lunch, there’s nothing out of the ordinary to mention, except don’t leave your bag unattended at any time or you may end up carrying a rock or two to your next destination!

After yesterday’s epic the guys fancy a rest day and a round of golf, so we go for a distillery tour at Dalwhinnie, then drop them at the Aviemore golf course for a round and some food.

On their last day I am determined to get them out on the bike for a couple of hours at Badaguish, and after the first half an hour of moans and groans they settle into their rhythm and enjoy what the local trails have to offer: rocks, roots and challenging climbs – we love it!

So all that’s left to do is pack the bikes and leave the guys to do some present shopping for their family back home.  In the morning the van on the way down to Edinburgh airport is very quiet with a lot of recovering legs and satisfied smiles.

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Liquid gold and mountain biking in Scotland!

Selection of fantastic malt whiskySince our whisky mountain biking holiday was launched late last year we have had some fantastic reviews from the press and lots of exciting correspondences with companies in the whisky industry.  One of the most interesting companies we have come across is the Master of Malt, and to top it all of a very interesting package landed on my desk the other day with a selection of sample bottles! For my ‘Ahem’ approval 😉

 

Master of Malt is a UK-based independent bottler and whisky retailer with an incredible range of fine whiskies from Scotland, Japan, America, India and even England! The company has been in operation since 1985, and over the years they’ve learnt a thing or two about what makes a great single malt.

Their own is range is quite something, and it includes a selection of single cask whiskies (completely unique, unadulterated whiskies from a single barrel) and single malts from all over Scotland.

We’ve been lucky enough to sample a little assortment from the Master of Malt, and here are our findings…

We’re kicking things off with a “single cask” 12 year old single malt whisky from the Isle of Arran. There’s only one distillery on Arran, and we’ve heard only good things. Now, this whisky has been bottled straight from the barrel, no dilution here, so it’s at a whopping 54.7%!  The aromas are rich and fragrant. More like a fine brandy than a whisky – very distinctive indeed. The taste is overwhelming with malt and fruit notes. It’s sweet and rich and very long in the finish. Master of Malt Arran 12 Year Old £44.95

Back to the mainland for this next whisky, a beautifully dark single malt from a secret distillery in Speyside. Even without the auspicious “30 year old” on the label, you can tell this is a very old whisky just by looking at the liquid in the bottle; it’s so syrupy and treacle like! This is the 2nd edition of Master of Malt Speyside 30 year old £99.95, and, oh my, it’s a beautiful whisky. Aromas of sherry and spices, it tastes like Christmas! This is a really rich, smooth whisky. It’s astonishing. You don’t get to taste a fine spirit like this every day!

The final whisky is another single cask whisky. This time it’s from the Highlands of Scotland (not too far from our base) from a distillery called Tomatin. This 19 year old single cask Scotch from Master of Malt is actually the favourite whisky of comedian Stephen Fry, who says it’s “like ethereal Dundee cake”. And Fry is not the only fan of this delightful single malt; even Jim Murray (renowned whisky critic and writer) has extolled its virtues, rating it with a remarkable 96 out of 100 points in his Whisky Bible – only 1.5 points below the top rated whisky ever! In his tasting notes he describes this stunning dram as “quite simply astounding”. Master of Malt Tomatin 19 Year Old £69.95

All in all it’s a fantastic batch from Master of Malt. You can browse through thousands of whiskies on their site www.masterofmalt.com and even read about new and upcoming releases as well as their own brand of industry-leading knowledge on their well-rated blog www.masterofmalt.com/blog.

So, enjoy tasting some fantastic whisky after a good mountain bike ride! We did!

Mountain biking and whisky tasting in Speyside, Scotland

Distillery in the Cairngorms, during the Whisky mtb holiday

We’ve just put the finishing touches to our new mountain biking holiday, the Speyside mtb whisky holiday,  based in the Spey valley, near Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands.

The trip takes place during the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival and offers you fantastic mountain biking in the iconic landscape of the Highlands of Scotland with the opportunity to tour the world-famous Speyside whisky distilleries, sampling their finest malts along the way.

The mountains and glens of Speyside provide the perfect terrain for excellent mountain biking, as well as the pure, clean water required to make some of the world’s most sought-after whiskies.

With your morning spent exploring the delights of the local trails, followed by a dram or two in the afternoon, this Highland holiday is a winning combination.

If this tickles your taste buds, then contact us for further information.  Slàinte!