Dalwhinnie to Fort William

I love point to point adventures and this route had been at the back of my mind for a while. With the cyclocross season finishing last week, I was feeling ready for something a bit different - less structured and predictable - and was delighted when Marie suggested a long exploratory ride. We thought about doing it over two days but it's also nice not to be carrying too much. Instead of sleeping bag I just packed loads of food and three different exposure lights and we set off from Dalwhinnie at 8.30am, under a beautiful sunrise.

We thought the route would be about 60 miles and take somewhere between 8 and 12 hours. To maximise actual riding, we decided to wiggle north and south on estate roads via ardverikie and Moy rather than heading the obvious straight line to Loch Ossian. We knew there would be plenty of hike a bike later so a greater distance on easy tracks seemed preferable and we were well rewarded with deserted beaches highlighted golden with the low winter sun.

Marie's photo, demonstrating her massively superior photography skills with the gorgeous light.

Despite the well-kept roads we barely saw another soul until we got near to the Youth Hostel and train station at Corrour. It is sometimes difficult to convince yourself to go out in the winter and suffer through the freezing hands of the first hour. But when you get days like this one they are all the more special. At one point we were admiring some stags on the skyline only to round the corner and see nearly 100 of them looking down on us.

We both had huge grins on our faces for most of the ride.

That is until we arrived at the 'trainspotting' bothy and the 'grim' bit started.

We'd hoped to do the leg north west towards Killiechonate in daylight but a minor navigational error added a few extra kms of trying to ride a bike through rocky bog, getting on and off and whacked in the shins and generally wondering why we were there with a bike in the first place. I kept telling myself that it would end and finally it did, joining the Tour de Ben route in time for a long descent. After that the hard bit was over and it was just another steady pedalling of 10 miles or so of forestry roads back to Fort William.

Nearly 10.5hr to cover 60 miles but a really nice opportunity to connect up two bits of Scotland and visit some hidden glens on the way.


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