Friday 28 August 2015

Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse - the West Highland Way on a Bike...

The West Highland Way is an iconic trail leading almost 100 miles from Milngavie near Glasgow to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis through some of the finest scenery in Scotland. The route is a long distance hiking trail not a cycle path and I have read reports of people having to carry bikes for long distances over part of the route along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. This section though was all rideable by mountain bike if pretty rough in places.

The section I chose to ride here is possibly the wildest and remotest part of the whole route, crossing the wilderness of Rannoch Moor between Bridge of Orchy and Kingshouse in Glen Etive. It's worth noting that there is no shelter and in bad weather it's probably a good idea to think twice before setting out on foot or on a bike. I rode the route in both directions as I had to return to my car at Glenorchy and covered 40k or about 25 miles with the lowest point (150m/500ft) at Bridge of Orchy; and the highest point (450m/1500ft) on Rannoch Moor just before the Glencoe Ski Centre.

The last descent to Kingshouse consequently had to be reversed uphill - something I was aware of as I sped happily down it - but the ride south from the high point to Inveroran was nearly all downhill with some exhilarating descents that made all the effort worthwhile. Beyond Kingshouse the WHW continues to the Devil's Staircase - a steep pass at about 550m/1850ft - before descending to sea level at Kinlochleven 9 miles on while south of my start point it's an easy looking path for 7 miles to Tyndrum.

One notable advantage of being on a bike in the Highlands - aside of course from the stunning views - is that that you are faster than the midges and so avoid their efforts to turn you into a meal. They were not so bad today owing to wind and showers but last time I rode from Kingshouse, hikers were being subjected to sustained attacks while I on my trusty steed remained immune - had to keep going though! Here's the day's route in pictures...

the river orchy from the west highland way
The route from the car park by the hotel first crosses the stone bridge over the River Orchy that gives the village its name

cycling in the highlands
Views from the minor road that leads from Bridge of Orchy to Inveroran - it just keeps getting better!

west highland way at inveroran
The end of the road - after Inveroran the track becomes rougher as it begins the climb up over Rannoch Moor

mountain biking in the highlands
Looking back down the track on the approach to Rannoch Moor - this climb was quite rough but not too long

mountain biking in scotland
The climb soon led to some great riding over Rannoch Moor

mountain biking in scotland
Looking back from my lunch stop on Rannoch Moor - it doesn't get much better than this!

mountain biking in the scottish highlands
Looking south from near the high point of the day - it is remote country this

buachaille etive mor from the west highland way
The route onwards down to Kingshouse is rough and steep but the ski centre road is met soon
views from the west highland way
The approach to Kingshouse is down a much easier track (the old road) with views of the Munros, Creise and Buachaille Etive Mor

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes. Another wonderful post on a lovely area. Thx