Mountain Biking Glen Sligachan - June 2010

Day 2 of our bank holiday 'relaxing' weekend started waking up in the Sligachan campsite raring to go for another epic day on the bikes! The weather was good and the forecast was favourable! Suncream was the order of the day - another nice change for these parts (from previous trips!)

Once again 'Scotland Mountain Biking' was the book of choice with a new map ready to accompany us on the journey. According to the book the route is usually ridden anti-clockwise; however the book has moved away from tradition and takes us clockwise to get the road riding out of the way first rather than at the end of the day! 

The route starts on the A87 - with the road being the main/only route around the Isle of Skye there was a fair bit of traffic travelling with us. The shores of Loch Sligachan was enough to keep our minds off the busy traffic. 

To minimise the amount of time on the A87, we decided to take a detour from the 'book route' and took a left just after Sconser Lodge Hotel, a much quieter singletrack road around the edge of the island. It was a little further in distance rather than the more direct 'A' road, but we thought that this was worth it - we were not the only ones, we saw a few fellow cyclists enjoying the peace along this part of the route.

We had more time to enjoy the view on the quieter road
We rode alongside Loch Ainort before rejoining the A87 for around 1.5km until Luib where the singletrack began.....

The sometimes technical singletrack took us through Strath Mor. The surface was boggy and eroded in places and didn't allow you to get into a rhythm. It was a very good test for our riding and we had to concentrate all the way along the technical trail!

The view was already spectacular and we soon reached Lochain Stratha Mhoir. The trail became a little less technical from here - a welcome relief !

We had to share the trails with plenty of cows from here and ended up weaving in and out of them as they seemed to enjoy hanging around on the track.

We kept to the west side of the river for a while until a section of the hillside had washed away, which was our cue to ford the river at this point. Getting across at the right point meant lower water and less wet feet ! (Although it has to be said that Kath continued a little further and had to cross the river at a much deeper point - of course I didn't laugh here.....not out loud anyway!!!).

It was decided that this was a good spot for a lunch stop!

We then skirted around Loch na Sguabaidh, and with the path at times very close to the edge of the loch, we got our feet a little wet again!

We then continued along the track and were soon at the head of Loch Slapin. The route then joined a tarmac road which took us away from the coast to Kirkibost. We had to keep reminding ourselves to look ahead as the views of Bla Bheinn and some of the other Cuillins were taking our attention.

A steady climb on the road took us to a parking area, which was pretty busy, not surprising considering that it was a gorgeous day ! The hot weather had taken its toll with water levels running low - and with nowhere to fill up our packs, it was a good job we had extra provisions in our bottle cages!

The signpost showed the way towards Camasunary and Sligachan - it looked like quite a rocky track and with lots of people around, it was going to be a challenge to get to the top without dabbing! 

As the track climbed over the Am Mam pass it became steeper and rockier.

Even at the top of the pass we were dwarfed by the Cuillins
Once at the top, we were rewarded with some spectacular views over to the Cuillins and Loch Scavaig. It was very strange to see the loch from such a different perspective, having been paddling on it just a month previous. 

Here we had a quick bar break and were joined by a couple of mountain bikers who had come up from Sligachan by the route we were taking on the return. They had pedaled up and were retracing their steps on the way back.

Descending with Loch Scavaig behind

We then had a great descent on a steep rocky trail - this was fairly busy with walkers which meant we kept the speed low (not great considering we were getting knocked about by the boulders) and had to alter our route choice more than if we could have chosen the line on a free trail! 

One of the ladies walking up seemed very worried for us and shouted at us to be careful, but we were enjoying the descent too much to take it easy! 

We then crossed the river and headed towards the abandoned buildings at Camasunary.

We didn't need to check the map to decide where to go next !!
According to the book, the next part is the toughest and most challenging part of the ride. This made us a  little apprehensive as we set off, but having completed the ride - this was most definitely our favourite part! 

There were some boggy sections, but other than me almost falling in one with the front wheel stuck - it was a very enjoyable ride back! The singletrack was awesome and meant we had to concentrate all the way home.

There were lots of small lochs to pedal past and once we got to Lochan Dubha we entered Glen Sligachan which meant we were around 5km of singletrack before the end.

This is when we came across drainage ditches with some of them being fairly wide.                                             

With the downhill momentum we were able to hop or jump most of them. I got a little bit cocky and went for one a little wider than I should have meaning my back wheel hit a little too hard, this was quickly followed by a blast of air. A quick pit stop to swap the inner tube and we were back on the descent in no time.

We eventually arrived at the Sligachan Hotel, which marked our finish point - we were a little disappointed as the singletrack was awesome and we didn't want it to end! A quick drink in the bar with a few snacks gave us the energy to cross the road to the campsite and sort out our kit. 

A quick shower and we were back across the road (this time on foot) to enjoy a well deserved meal - a cracking end to a cracking day ! When looking back over the ride, we knew we were fortunate to get excellent weather - no wind, rain or snow and we even got plenty of sun. This is definitely a route to choose when the weather is favourable !!

Stats: Distance - 46km / Total ascent 1000m / A great route - well worth a visit! 

No comments:

Post a Comment