Scotland has been good to us over the past few weeks. As she begins to shake off her winter cloak we’ve been treated to a couple of weekends of good snow and hill conditions. The first set of photos below are from a weekend spent on bikes and foot in the Cairngorms. In the preceding days my brother and I had put together a loose plan of heading up north for a weekends riding under a pessimistic weather forecast for low cloud. Our target for Saturday was Sgor Gaoith (pronounced sgor gooey, the ‘windy peak’) from the pinewood clad Glen Feshie, then back into the van and over the other side of the valley to ride the Burma Road, an up-and-down style mountain bike route starting out from Lynwilg on the edge of the A9.
Meal-deals have always been a staple of days spent mountain biking with my brothers. First call of the day was therefore a supermarket to pick up the obligatory sandwich, juice and a snack, no sports supplements today. The wifey at the checkout scanned my items through and charged me £4.25 instead of the advertised £3.00, needless to say I was most un-amused. I showed my disquiet in the most typical of British fashions – by politely paying, tutting and walking away.
The climb up Sgor Gaoith was brutal due to the unforgiving gradients and wheel swallowing drainage ditches being interspersed with rock steps. We met the cloud base around 500 m and the snowline soon thereafter. You can imagine our delight when finally we popped out of the top of the clouds to experience a perfect inversion. Soon jackets were being whipped off and the summit reached, our legs charged by our surroundings. The snow-fields made the descent track almost impossible to pick up so I set a bearing and we charged off down the hillside, into the cloud. There were some Megaavalanche-style escapades over snow patches and much hanging off the back of the bikes before we met the path once again for the final charge back into the pinewoods.
The Burma road was reputedly constructed by prisoners of war in the 1940s. The current orange-hued track contrasts with the browns, greens and purples of the grouse moors it bisects. A stony, peaty track splits off from the first major summit of road and provides a fast, technical and all round brilliant descent back into the valley. By this stage we were fairly knackered, I think it’s fair to say the Cairngorms handed it to us!
I usually spend my journeys back down south for work on Sunday nights stamping a hole in the floor of my wee van to the sounds of Travelling Folk on BBC Gael; this Sunday was no exception apart from my legs were sore so the stamping was a little less enthusiastic. I should really pack a spare set of underpants for the day my foot breaks through. You’ve tae reign the ceilidh in a wee bit pulling up to traffic lights too so as not to look too much of a tcheuchter from adjacent cars. Make sure the sheep in the back seats have their seat belts on an that too……
I’ve chucked in a few photos below from a speed ascent and ski of Ben Wyvis just outside Inverness. If you ski then get up that hill when conditions are in, you won’t be disappointed.