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Photo blog: Mountain biking Torridon & Skye, Scotland

Mountain biking on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands is not for the faint-hearted, but if you’re looking for an epic adventure and you’re not afraid of working to earn your rewards, then you will have the time of your life on our Torridon and Skye mountain bike tour.

As these intrepid riders found out when they joined us in May this year. Here’s a selection of their photos to tell the story of their experience, mountain biking in the wild, rugged landscapes of the Highlands.

To experience all this for yourself, join us for mountain biking Torridon and Skye in Scotland this year!

 

Trip report: mountain biking in Torridon and Skye, Scotland with Haglöfs

Mountain biking in Torridon and Skye, Scotland. By Bruce Duncan of Haglöfs

Grey winds whip around us as we stand in the supermarket car park, shopping list in hand, to buy enough supplies to last eight people for five days. Top of the list is enough beer and whisky to last us the week!

I was part of the advance party for a week-long mountain biking foray into the Torridon and Skye mountains situated in the northwest coast of Scotland and had joined, Euan Wilson, guide and owner of H&I Adventures, to help set up a base camp in a traditional cottage situated smack bang in the middle of these two fantastic landscapes.

Haglöfs had designed a new range of mountain biking clothing and we wanted to expose the equipment to an array of challenging environments and riding styles. We’d enlisted H&I Adventures to host our riders and product designers from Sweden.

Mountain biking in Torridon, Scotland

As we drive west from Inverness, the weather is improving from overcast and windy to a calm and sunny 22 degrees. Things are looking up. Once we arrive at the cottage we set about furnishing the cupboards and fridge with food, before settling down to a map, beer and open-fire evening:The Planning. I awake in the small hours of the morning to hear talking, but not English − the rest of the team have made it!

After breakfast, Euan gathers us around the kitchen table to discuss the day ahead. The words ‘epic’, ‘challenging’ and ‘spicy’ are being tossed around the table like rubbish on a windy day. Nobody knows what he means by ‘spicy’, but we set off nonetheless following our fearless leader into the Torridon hills.

Shortly after our first climb to a 650m pass, the ‘epic’ part of this tour starts to unfold. The views are akin to full-blown 3,000m alpine scenes, but we are only 650m up on a Scottish mountain side! A ribbon of pristine singletrack weaves its way out in front of us and disappears out of sight, teasing us with the unknown. We chase after it to find it delivers us right back down to sea level.

In eight hours we tackle singletrack technical climbs, four snakebite punctures, hike-a-bike sections and two 8km descents – Euan is certainly delivering the ‘challenging’ part of the tour.

Mountain biking in Scotland

Day two starts on a similar vein, but with the added bonus of riding the best descent in the country in to the Torridon valley!

As ever, we have to work hard for our descents, but it’s always worth it. Scotland is not like any other riding that I have done. In the Alps, you can climb for a couple of hours and then enjoy an hour-long descent. Scotland, on the other hand, is ‘undulating’: short sharp climbs and technical descents. It offers. a new way of riding and being able to conserve energy for later in the day is crucial.

By late afternoon, we are deep in the Torridon mountains surrounded by kilometre-high grey mountains, beams of sunlight shooting through the clouds like laser beams, as the clouds race across the sky. As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, Euan turns to us and announces: “saddles down, suspension on downhill mode, and buckle up, things are about to get ‘spicy’ around here!” We race down drops, over drainage bars, and big rocks, and loose rocks, and cobbled sections.

A truly awesome, technical, fast-flowing descent, the likes of which I have never seen before. I have to employ every trick and skill in the book to make it down in one piece!

That night, we relive the day’s excitement over a glass of whisky.

On day three, we head to the Isle of Skye for some fun and frolicking. We pass by Broadford and Portree on our way to the far north of the island, passing the imposing Lord of The Rings-style landscape of the Quiraing. Once there, we set about a 320m road climb, a mountain biker’s dream… or not! As soon as we reach the top of the climb, we peel off the trail and wrestle our way along a ribbon of perfect singletrack that cuts its way along the cliff edge.

Mountain biking on Skye, Scotland

We have to negotiate technical terrain while keeping an eye on the 45 degree slope to our right, that falls 150m to the sea below. Euan’s words, “Fall to the left if you fall!” are ringing in my ears all the way along. We enjoy an extended lunch and sunbathing session beneath a bluebird sunny sky, the light winds keeping the midges at bay. Then negotiate a rocky descent down to the beach below, where we find a dinosaur footprint hidden amongst the seaweed.

We return to the van tired and sore, but with a healthy glow from our day in the Scottish sun. The following day we sail back to Skye and set off along an old quartz mine railway track. It slowly gains altitude and opens up with views over the Cuillin Ridge that cuts through the centre of the island and is world famous for its impressive skyline. It’s the only Munro that requires ropes to summit and is the perfect winter training ground for climbers heading out to the Alps or other far-flung climbing destinations.

At the top, the nature of the descent becomes apparent: a grassy trail weaves its way through old abandoned homes – that have lain empty for nearly 200 years – and out onto a rocky beach bejeweled with fossils! They’re hard to find: we turn over a million rocks with no luck, so head along the coastline to pick up our trail. It hugs the lower flanks of an impressive sea cliff, before dishing out a couple of gold-star climbs. Even Euan, our intrepid guide, walks some of the route.

Throughout the ride (and indeed all this week) we haven’t seen another human being. That is, until we round the corner to find the Blue Shed Café serving a selection of coffees to put a London coffee merchant to shame and some rather spectacular home baking to help replace calories lost on today’s ride.

The day of our final adventure together dawns. As we mount our steeds for the final time, Euan explains that a part of this ride has been washed out over the past winter, but not to worry. It is a circular loop near the banks of Loch Maree that starts off with a very challenging climb up a steep dirt road, but he assures us we’ll be rewarded with one of the best views in the Highlands at the top.

For about an hour we pick our way along a fantastic singletrack before we hit the washed-out section. We see Euan skipping around rocks and over drops, but we choose to take the safe option and walk.

Once the trail picks up again it is hard to keep our eyes on the track due to the stunning views over Loch Maree and beyond it to the Torridon Valley. When we arrive back at the van it is high-fives, man hugs and ‘congratulations’ all round. We celebrate with a feast of smoked salmon, venison and Orkney fudge cheesecake, while watching the sun setting out west over the Isle of Skye.

It has been an eventful week with plenty of ups and down, literally, and we raise our beers and make a toast to ‘spicy, epic’ Scotland!

 

Availability mountain biking holidays in Scotland 2013

It’s July already, the Tour de France is underway and everyone’s enjoying cycle fever and (hopefully) some good weather, so we thought we’d give you a round-up of the remaining availability on our fabulous mountain biking holidays in Scotland for the rest of this year.

Many of our trips are sold out for 2013, but we still have some fantastic options for you on mountain biking holidays in Scotland, so whether you’re a mad keen mountain biker looking for the best riding available, or you just enjoy seeing new places on your bike, we’ll have something to help you scratch that itch!

Mountain biking holidays in Scotland 2013

Mountain biking in Torridon, coast-to-coast Scotland

A tough, but rewarding ride on day 5

Coast-to-coast Scotland, 17th – 24th August

By popular demand, we’ve added an extra date for our epic coast-to-coast Scotland mountain biking adventure, on August 17th – 24th. All other dates are sold out this year, and we’re taking bookings for 2014, so this is your last chance to experience our cross-Highland challenge in 2013!

This week-long mountain biking holiday will see you riding nearly 250km, 95% off-road, from the east coast town of Bonar Bridge and ending your week at the stunning fishing village of Applecross, and Scotland’s Pub of the Year 2012 the Applecross Inn.

Read all the details of our coast-to-coast Scotland mountain biking holiday and book your place now!

Fresh local scallops from Scotland

Fresh local scallops from Scotland

Tastes and Trails of Scotland, 24th – 31st August

If you enjoy life at a slower pace and like the sound of combining the best local food and drink in Scotland, with stunning scenery, rich Highland culture and history, then our Tastes and Trails of Scotland adventure will be just your cup of tea!

This week-long adventure includes a ride on the Jacobite Express steam train (aka Hogwarts’ Express) from Fort William to Mallaig, lunch at the Michelin-starred Kinloch Lodge on Skye, distillery tour and whisky tasting, a visit to the famous Eilean Donan castle, and some beautiful coastal walks and bike rides.

You’ll find all the information and tour photos on our website, and you can also book your place online too. We look forward to sharing the secrets of the west coast with you!

Torridon and Skye, Scotland, August 31st – September 7th

Mountain biking on the Isle of Skye

Hike-a-bike on Skye

If you’re an experienced mountain biker looking for the best, most technical trails in spectacular scenery, then our Torridon and Skye mountain biking holiday in Scotland will be right up your street. The landscapes of the west coast of Scotland consist of rocks formed billions of years ago and changed over the millennia by continental divides, volcanic activity and the ice age. What this means to us mountain bikers is that we get to ride the crème-de-la-crème of trails; not just in the UK but also in Europe!

Follow in the tracks of downhill champion Steve Peat, and trials stars Danny MacAskill and Hans Rey on this week-long mountain biking extravaganza in Scotland, from August 31st to September 7th.

If you need further convincing, watch the video of our trip with these three mountain biking legends, then read the tour details and book your place online!

And if you’re super-organised, we’ve published 2014 dates for our mountain biking holidays in Scotland, so you can secure your place in advance and look forward to an unforgettable adventure in Scotland next year!

 

MountainBike Magazin Germany features Torridon and Skye tour

Mountain biking on Skye with MountainBike Magazin

MountainBike Magazin on Skye

We recently hosted the guys from MountainBike Magazin in Germany and showed them our favourite trails in Torridon and Skye, Scotland.

You can read the full feature in this month’s edition of MountainBike Magazin, and drool over the incredible pictures that they took on their road trip around Torridon, Skye, and the spectacular west coast of Scotland.

Our last trip of 2012 is fully booked, but if you feel inspired by the article and think you’re up to riding the rocky, technical trails of Torridon and Skye, you can join us for this epic mountain bike adventure in Scotland next year; first trip runs from 25th May to 1st June 2013.

In the words of one customer:

Had an awwwwwsome mtb holiday with H&I Adventures. Couldn’t imagine a better way to learn and see more of the real Scotland.

Book your place online, or get in touch to find out more about mountain biking in Torridon and Skye, Scotland.

 

Late availability: coast-to-coast Scotland, Torridon & Skye, Cairngorms

Summer is almost upon us and we have a few last minute places left on our world-class mountain biking tours in Scotland. So, get your chains oiled, check your gear cables, and get some miles on the clock in preparation for an amazing mountain biking experience in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland!

Coast-to-coast Scotland, 12th – 19th May

Mountain biking coast-to-coast Scotland

Mountain biking coast-to-coast Scotland

This is the ultimate coast-to-coast mountain bike route in Scotland; almost 95% off-road, from the east coast town of Bonar Bridge, to Applecross in the west.

You’ll stay in 3- and 4-star welcoming B&Bs, and your luggage will be transferred every day so that you’re free to enjoy the spectacular landscapes and the challenge of riding across Scotland on your mountain bike.

You can book your place online via our secure booking system, or contact us for more information on our coast-to-coast mountain bike adventure in Scotland.

Torridon and Skye, 26th May – 2nd June

Mountain biking in Torridon and Skye, Scotland

Mountain biking on Skye

If you’re looking for the best mountain biking that Scotland has to offer, look no further than our epic Torridon and Skye mountain bike tour.

We’ve hand-picked the most exhilarating trails in the most dramatic landscapes in Scotland to give you the crème-de-la-crème of mountain bike tours. Not for the faint-hearted, this trip incorporates some awesome, rocky, technical riding that will challenge your bike-handling skills, but then reward you with sweet singletrack descents.
If this sounds like your idea of mountain bike heaven, grab one of the last places and book online, or contact us for more information.

Cairngorms adventure tour, 9th – 16th June

Loch in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Glen Feshie in the Cairngorms, Scotland

Our Cairngorms adventure tour is perfect for beginner to intermediate mountain bikers and gives you the chance to explore the diverse natural beauty of the Cairngorms National Park, the largest in the UK.

As well as fantastic mountain biking you’ll also enjoy a day’s guided canoeing on the River Spey, a guided wildlife walk, and a tour and tasting at one of the region’s many famous whisky distilleries. June is the perfect time to experience the splendour of the Cairngorms, so if you’d like to join us on this mountain bike adventure, book your place online, or contact us for more information.

We look forward to showing you round the Scottish trails soon!

 

Meet your mountain bike guide – part 3

In our third edition of ‘Meet your mountain bike guides’ we introduce Euan Wilson, head mountain bike guide in Scotland and co-owner of H&I Adventures.

Profile shot of mountain bike guide Euan WilsonEuan (aka Chevalier)

Name: Euan Wilson
Home town: Inverness, capital of the Highlands of Scotland
Family:  wife, Catherine
Bike: Yeti SB66c
Favourite trails: “That’s a difficult one because I’ve had the privilege to ride in so many fabulous places, but if pressed…Torridon and Skye in Scotland for the real technical challenge; the trails of the Sierra Norte in Mexico for their amazing flow; and the ride from Jomsom to Kagbeni in Nepal because, well, it’s indescribable really.”
Most known for: catch-phrase: “It’s just around the next corner…”

“I started mountain biking with friends when I was about 20 and was instantly hooked. At that time I was very into music, but my beloved hi-fi system soon began to gather dust as most of my spare time was spent out on the trails around Glasgow and in the Highlands. I decided to turn my passion into a business five or so years ago and now I love showing clients the joy of discovering new trails and beautiful places by bike.”

 

Highlands & Islands Adventures go worldwide!

Mountain bike tour, Mustang, Nepal Himalayas

Here at H&I Adventures we have been delivering exceptional mountain bike tours in Scotland for the past five years, and now we’re spreading our wings and launching into the worldwide mountain bike tours market with three truly mind-blowing destinations: the Sierra Nevada in Spain, Oaxaca in southern Mexico, and the Himalaya of Nepal.

H&I Adventures owner Euan Wilson says, “The main driving force behind our decision to expand is our customers; they’ve been suggesting for a while that we add other countries because they want to explore the world on their bikes, but they also want guaranteed level of service that only comes with a trusted tour operator. Now we can give them both!

“We have been very careful to select destinations that offer a choice of skill level and budgetary options for our customers, and support our commitment to responsible adventure travel. We work closely with the local communities in each of the remote areas we experience to ensure that our adventure tours provide revenue for the people and environments that give us so much pleasure along the way.”

To find out more on mountain biking in the far reaches of the Mustang region of Nepal, or the culinary heart of Mexico, visit our new website at www.mountainbikeworldwide.com or contact us on info@mountainbikeworldwide.com

And we look forward to welcoming you on one of our amazing new tours!

 

Mountain bike tour of Torridon and Skye, Scotland

We have just returned from an amazing week touring the Torridon and Skye areas of Scotland by mountain bike, and it was truly epic!  We had no rain all week, sweet singletrack, world-class food and a great group of people from around Europe.

It was such a great tour that it has taken us all week to filter our pictures and cut them down to just 35 pictures to add to our Torridon and Skye photo album on Facebook, jump over to Facebook to check them out!

That was our last Torridon and Skye tour of this year, but don’t worry because we have just launched our 2012 dates on our website, remember to book early to avoid disappointment!

We have had a great summer season here in Scotland, and hope you have too!  We are now hard at work preparing for our last coast-to-coast mountain bike tour of the year next week, exciting new tours for 2012 (Cairngorms Adventure tour and Tastes and Trails) and also some VERY exciting news that will be released later in the year!

Until next time, ride on!

 

 

Mountain biking tour on Skye, Scotland

I was reading the Guardian website last night and I came across a tour that we organised for them back in 2009, that was a great trip!  We no longer offer the weekend version of the Skye trip on our site, but we do offer a  Skye and Torridon bike adventure, as well as our a new tour for 2012 that will see us eating and biking our way around the west coast!

To read the Guardian story and see their pictures you can follow this link

To see our Torridon and Skye holiday click here

And if you would like to be one of the first to hear about our new ‘West coast, biking and food tour’ email info@mtbholidayscotland.com

 

Mountain bike tours, Scotland

And breath!

It has been a mega busy month of mountain bike tours, with a truly outstanding all-mountain coast-to-coast tour in the stunning Scottish summer sunshine, a Torridon and Skye tour with a large and excited group of German mountain bikers, a trip to Switzerland mountain biking the trails around the Verbier area and not to mention a highly succesful Cairngorms trip!

We seem to have lucked out with the weather too, while parts of the UK have been battered by wind and rain, we have managed to mostly stay dry and happy!  Well how could you not be happy when riding trails like these?

mountain bike Torridon and Skyemountain bike tour ScotlandMountain bike tour

 

We have a short break this week before the final fling of our season takes off with a tour of the Torridon and Skye area, followed by our final coast-to-coast trip of the year, which we have two places left!! If you are interested contact us on info@mtbholidayscotland.com