Cycle touring Scotland – Aviemore to the border

My arrival in Aviemore may have been heralded by soggy conditions, but the following morning was stellar. I woke early and rode the lovely trails of the Rothiemurchus for a while, drinking in my favourite forest. I’ve waxed lyrical (tried to) about this place before and you can still find a quiet spot early in the day to ‘listen to it breathe’.

Leaving the Rothiemurchus
Leaving the Rothiemurchus

I pointed the ECR south, now bent on a new plan I’d formulated over a potent and prodigious curry the previous night. Checking the weather carefully, it appeared the grim conditions to the west were now chasing me east and south. This system’s southerly course would last for the next week or so, with conditions filling in behind the front.

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This year’s adventure and a change of plan

rannoch moorI had planned to head to France for this year’s bike tour and tackle the Grande Traversée du Massif Central, a 700km mountain bike route from Clermont Ferrard to Montpellier.

I bought the guidebook and had (nearly) sorted my slightly awkward logistics flying outbound and grabbing the Bike Europe Express coach service home. Naturally, I wanted to take the Surly ECR on this trip although this bike’s massive proportions would cause problems on both modes of travel. If you’re interested, Bike Europe Express will take fat bikes – be they half or full fat – classing them as ‘unconventional solos’. However, I think it’s a good idea to call them first if you fancy taking your monster truck. Continue reading

Two fingers from the Lairig Ghru

Before our blissful decompression at Kylesmorar, we spend a few days in the Rothiemurchus in the shadow of the Cairngorms.

As some ferocious weather battered much of Scotland, and curtains of rain turned some of Perthshire’s streets to rivers, the maelstrom didn’t really hit the northwestern Cairngorms. When things did take a turn for the worst, the Caledonian woods protected the tent.
Checking the week’s forecast, I picked the best day of a bad bunch to climb up into the Lairig Ghru and, perhaps, ‘top out’ on Braeriarch or, failing that, Sron na Lairige.

I’ve never been to the Lairig before, but had read plenty about it. The declivity slicing through the Cairngorm range offers bleak but beautiful passage for backpackers who’ve solved the logistical conundrum of car sharing or public transport and got to Braemar for the start of the walk to Aviemore (or vice versa).
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A Scottish adventure

As I think I’ve said before on here, September is my favourite month. As folk go back to work and kids are back in the classroom, outdoor destinations breathe a collective sigh of relief as tranquillity descends again.

For the other half and I, it heralds our ‘main’ holiday of the year, usually two weeks north of the border and this year is no exception.
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Back from my grand tour

Just back from another superb trip touring the Highlands.

I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the landscapes we travelled through so I think I am going to recount my experiences through a number of postcards.

They’ll follow once I’ve done the first edit of my pictures.