Dawn broke in beautiful weather. We were lucky, as foul weather would have meant a van transfer to the beginning of the trail. Now we had the luxury of a RIB ride from Poolewe to Badluarach Ferry Landing on Little Loch Broom. This would be the biggest day.
The ride started with a long climb in a beautiful setting. We were pushing over the hills towards Achneigie cottage, east of Loch Na Sealga.
The long climb was rewarded with a spirited downhill on good dual track. It was hard keeping eyes on the track as the scenery from the road was truly breathtaking. Everything had completely changed from the other side of the hills. You could have would back your clock a hundred years and see little change. This was apparently as remote as it gets in Scotland.
We dropped down on to the valley floor and continued on the north ban k of the river to Achneigie cottage. Nobody needed a break so we continued west towards Loch Na Sealga. Alex, our guide, had warned us that this section of trail is very prone to dealing out damage to the bikes. It has some narrow sections with high turf that rear mech tend to get caught on.
It was warm and sweaty. Luckily there was a lot of running water so we could refill our Camelbaks frequently.
We arrived on Loch Na Sealga. The trail had claimed a casualty as the Frenchman’s rear mech had been tagged. The dropout had sheared off instead of breaking. There was no way to fix it. We devised a workaround by chopping the chain and turning the bike into a single speed. It wasn’t perfect but at least it wasn’t a long walk ahead.
We crossed Loch Na Sealga and headed in a generally southwestern direction towards the hills. This would be the last long climb of the day, but it would be tough.
The trail got steeper and steeper with some carrying action for the last half hour or so. Reaching the col was bliss, and we were treated to more beautiful scenery. The last section had been punishing so we took a break before the long rocky downhill to Dubh Loch.
The downhill section was rocky and fast with several water bars. Everyone made it down in one piece. I was pretty impressed with Brit riding all this on a hard tail. I was wishing I had had a Session or Demo for this stuff. Not to mention body armour. Even with the Slash I had to pick lines and bunny hop water bars. With a DH bike you could have just gone straight through the obstacles.
There was a strange causeways between Dubh Loch and Fionn Loch. We stopped there for some faffing about and what not. Weather was turning sour so after putting on my rain gear I was anxious to get moving. Bloodthirsty midges not being the smallest reason.
The afternoon was marked with a lot of punctures and the group split into two. TKS-1, myself and the Swiss were riding out with Alex. Our other guide, Kevin the poet, was bringing in the rear. I must say this section was probably the highlight of the trip for me. It was a long twisting single track with good surface. We were in pouring rain with the trails becoming stream. Water was everywhere and I could almost feel my brake pads wearing out with every squeeze of the lever. I ended up changing my pads every second day. Water and grit will do that to pads.
As we descended the single track turned into a forest road. It just got even better and better. Or actually absurd. Apparently a local farmer had been feeding his cattle on the road so there were huge piles of dung littered on the road. It had mixed with the rain and the mud. We were still going pretty fast and dung piles were not my main main concern. Having said that I made sure I had my mouth shut every time I went over a pile, and the front tyre sprayed me with the Scottish chocolate shake. Lovely.