Saturday, 29 September 2012

Pushing my bike up big bloody mountains part II.

As the next day dawned, wall to wall sunshine it was not, in fact wall to wall, floor to ceiling pissing down rain it was. Listening to the rain on the tent was not good but I thought to myself "it always sounds worse than it is" but no, it was pissing down!

 We retreated to Sourlies in the hope that after breakfast the rain would have eased, but no I think it just got worse. Eventually we plucked up the courage to pack up and start the next stage of our adventure through Glen Dessarry.

 Now we had read lots about Dessarry and none of it was good, but the stubborn men we are thought it'd be OK. It wasn't OK in fact it was pretty far from OK and the lashing rain only made it worse. At one point we had to stop and look at the map just to check that the burn we were walking up was in fact the path. Upon reaching the high point before Lochain a Mhaim and narrowly avoiding falling to our death down a ravine there was the first chance to ride our bikes that day (4 hours in). We cycled round the edge of and into the now swollen Lochain a Mhaim and then pushed the last wee bit to the water shed where, after a little route finding, we descended all the way down to A Chuil Bothy. This was not in the plan but we had wildly underestimated the amount of time Dessary would take and soaked to the skin we hid inside and built a huge fire to dry our wet kit. We had planned to make it over into Glen Kingie and out towards the Tomdoun hotel for beer and hot food.

 The next day it was dry so we got a move on and ate breakfast. Now at this point we realized that our pal Dawid was surviving on rolled oats, as in rolled oats for breakfast, rolled oats for lunch and rolled oats for dinner either with cheese or raisins and all washed down with nettle tea. The plan for today was to make it to Barrisdale Bay not too far as the crow flies but a bloody long way via the village of Kingie. So off we set and within an hour the first hike a bike of the day was well under way taking the path heading north from Glen Dessarry House towards Glen Kingie. Upon reaching the high point we were confronted with a vast boggy Bealach with an Argo cat track weaving it's way through the peat hags, my fat fronted Salsa el mariachi found the going a little easier than the others but it was still hard going every time the trail pointed upward. As we neared the descent into Kingie the ridge comprising of Sgurr Mor Sgurr Beag and Sgurr a Fuarain dominated the skyline this helped take my mind away from the effort I was having to put in to keep the wheels rolling. Soon the trail pointed down and the surface firmed up into what seemed to be an old zigzag stalkers track we enjoyed the rocky corners, steep sections and boulder strewn single track until we reached the river Kingie where again it was time to get our feet wet. By this time our bellies were crying out for food so in the shadow of Sgurr Mor we tucked into some grub. My choice was a tub of nutella and a tub of full fat butter and oat cakes, yum ! Dawid had rolled oats!

 We cracked on, as time was against us. The next section of trail was a seldom used land rover track but the going was good and at times I was even enjoying the ride ;-) right up until the point we ended up in the wind blown, devastated forest of doom, crawling under deer fencing, up to our thighs in gloop then appearing out of the wind blown devastated forest of doom in the wrong place and having to cross the river Kingie which was about 20m wide thigh to waist deep and about a grade II rapid! But we made it and regrouped our thoughts on the other side and cracked on towards Barrisdale.

 This section was on the road and let me tell you road riding can be good at times. The road followed the edge of Loch Quioch and we just enjoyed the views in between the passing squalls and put some km's under our belt. The final descent to Kinloch Hourn was mental tight ,twisting, undulating ,super fast, horses and great views. We reached the bottom and quickly decided to keep going as our destination of Barrisdale Bay was still 8km away on what we thought would be a nice coastal track with a couple of wee ups and downs. But after the monster day we'd had it just about killed us, the hike a bike bits had ruts as deep as I'm tall! Finally the bay came into sight and at this point we all went into survival mode and zoomed down the last wee descent and around the corner to Barrisdale Bothy. The light was fading and it was starting to rain again, so we nipped into the bothy to see if there was any room at the inn. We were met with a frosty reception with a couple people not even bothering to look up and acknowledge our existence. I had a quick look in the bedrooms only to see a sleeping bag on every bed ;0 so back outside it was to pitch our tents and cook some food.

 The next bit I don't really remember but Phil who was sharing a tent with me said he woke up at some point  to see me asleep in my dinner!     



  1. I do now.
    this trip happened before I broke my Salsa.
    It's just taken me a while to write it up..