By bike and by boat

RB:

Join Ross Bell on one of his first H+I assignments into the wilds of Scotland – by bike and boat.

A day’s adventure in the Scottish Highlands – by bike and boat

Earlier this year one of the first projects we took our newest recruit, Ross Bell, on a favourite west coast loop from Mallaig, a bike and boat adventure – one of the days which can feature in our Torridon and Skye trip. As the biking season in Scotland draws to a close we take a look back at Ross’s thoughts on his first trip into the wilderness with us…

“The thrum of an old rustic trawler does its best to deafen the chorus of seagulls swooping over the harbour; we pull our bikes from the trailer and begin pedalling through the quaint fishing village of Mallaig on the wild west coast, for a day’s adventure in the Scottish Highlands.

By bike and boat - grey skies over Morar

Pre-season trail scouting

It’s early spring but the highlands have yet to get the message, Winter’s hangover yet to release her grip. The landscape looks rugged as ever but muted in tone, with the colour holding off until the bracken and heather begin to spread like wildfire over the hillside in the summer months.

With the exception of a couple of hikers and the grazing hill sheep we have the wilderness to ourselves as we push further along the loch side, the group dynamic is good with an excited preseason buzz of H+I Adventures guides and office staff checking out a part of the Torridon and Skye tour before the hectic summer schedule begins.

by bike and boat - technical features abound

Lochside riding

The trail rises and falls with an abundance of punchy rock gardens both up and down, a great technical challenge that keeps the heart rate ticking over and demands attention, which may be hard to offer up with the panoramic views over the water and deep into the various hills and valleys.

Following the water’s edge for around 10km before pealing off left and over the crest of the ridgeline, it’s time to swap fresh water for salt water and bike for boat as we bomb down to the finishing point in a remote cove at the end of Loch Nevis called Tarbet.

by bike and boat - tough up and down

Rocky trails to open water

A tiny cluster of houses guard the jetty from where we’d be hitching our lift back to Mallaig. Waiting at the jetty were a few groups of walkers and an excited dog who welcomingly greeted our arrival and very quickly began sniffing our riding packs for the promise or remaining trail snacks.

Our boat home rolls into view on the horizon but it is somewhat overwhelmed by the high hills sides towering over it. We load bikes into the dinghy and head out into deeper waters to meet the ‘Western Isles’ ferry.

by bike and boat - new friends
by bike and boat - the ferry home

Warm rewards

Despite threatening to, the clouds never unloaded but remained lingering atop the peaks. The brisk sea wind was bitter, making the boat transfer and loading of bikes a speedy process before retreating to the warmth of the galley and promise of tea.

With an hour and a half cruise back into Mallaig harbour it was time to sit back, watch the coastline bob past, and marvel at the sights of Scotland.

by bike and boat - taking the view from inside the boat
by bike and boat - the end of the journey

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