It’s been just about a year since we went to Knoydart. You may think that it’s taken me a while to get over it, but no, I’ve just had other stuff on.
It was probably the hardest 5 days I’ve spent on/beside/underneath a bicycle. During the the “planning” phase we were all giddy with ideas: “What if this pass goes?” and “Oh look that’d only be a 2km hike through that bealach”. All the time underestimating the seriousness of the terrain!
So myself, Rob & Phil set off early on a Monday morning to get to Mallaig for the first ferry over to Inverie. We planned to meet our fourth compadre, Dawid, in Inverie as he had cycled there over the weekend from Aviemore (because he gets car sick). Oh, he also decided that he didn’t need a map because it was such a short distance and all he needed do was head west.
As oftens trips go, we arrived for the ferry 10mins before it departed, so cue unpacking of the car, packing the bikes, last minute faffing oh and trying to find Dawid. Then, Phil running along the pier just as the boat was leaving.
The ferry journey really started the adventure in our heads. As we turned towards Inverie and the magnificent vista opened up before us we just sat there and soaked up the beauty of the landscape we were about to immerse ourselves in for the next 5 days.
Arriving in Inverie amongst the ‘standard’ tourists, it was cool knowing they were just here for a spot of walking or whale watching but we were about to set off unsupported into Scotland’s last great wilderness for 5 days of bikepacking.
We faffed a little more once the boat had unloaded. Phil stashed his skinny jeans in the bushes and we rolled out of town and into our unknown.
The trail climbed gently out of the village but this was the wake up call that I had not expected. 5 days of food/water camping gear and other bits and bobs really makes your bike pedal like you’ve got your brakes on! But I soon adjusted to it and manned up. The terrain opened up once we left the trees and and wow this place is truly rugged, real mountains with pointy tops and everything. We cycled on towards Gleann Meadail and started the long ride/push up to Mam Meadail. Now, at this point I think I should mention that we had just experienced 5 weeks of wall to wall sunshine and this day was the first rain we had felt in that time. As we reached 3/4s up the hill it pissed down on us and started blowing hard, but as we made the col the weather eased up and presented Sgurr na Ciche in all it’s glory across the glen. But that was nothing compared with the alpine-esque switchback singletrack descent from 550m to sea level. See video up there.
Unfortunately, half way down this first descent in a bloomin’ remote place, Rob binned it…. super slow over the handle bars style and he seriously thought that he’d broken his leg! Fuck, what now? The pain eased slightly and he hobbled down the rest of the descent. This brought home the seriousness of what we were doing and so we all put on our grown up heads and gingerly continued towards Sourlies bothy.
Riding across the beach at the head of Loch Nevis at low tide perked us up again, and spying the bothy from a distance really lifted out spirits.
We set up camp and ate some food and then still giddy with our new adventure, skimmed stones and drank whisky till it got dark.