World class trails and out of this world scenery – the Scottish Highlands have it all.
Torridon’s blend of slick rock trails, towering peaks and sublime coastal scenery has rightly earned it a slot on most mtb bucket lists. There’s plenty to go at but our favourite is the classic ‘lollipop’ from Anat; climbing almost 700m in one go, before dropping to Achnashellac on one of the best trails we’ve ridden anywhere – world class. It then grapples with gravity again as it regains Bealach na Lice from other side. Time it right, and it’s singletrack heaven into the sunset.
2. Glen Tilt
Remote. That’s got to be the best way to sum up the classic Glen Tilt loop. Although awesome wouldn’t be far behind. This is a big ride, with some long climbs and some equally long descents. It lacks the sustained technical going of many of Scotland’s finest routes, but instead it offers a real wilderness feel that’s only added to by the tricky river crossing towards the end. A swim in the Falls of Tarf is optional…
3. Sligachan, Skye
Skye. Just the name conjures up some kind of magic. And it really is every bit as captivating as it sounds. The riding’s great too. Our favourite is a point to point that first drops to the beach at Camasunary – an ideal spot for lunch – and then threads its way through the glen, on delightful singletrack, all the time in the shadow of the imposing Cuillin Ridge. It finishes at a pub too, if it needed anything else to commend it.
4. Devil’s Staircase & the Ciaran Path, Glencoe
It’s a big push from Glencoe up the Devil’s Staircase. It certainly doesn’t seem like a promising way to start a classic. But trust us, it is. From the top, the grimacing will be replaced by grins. And they’ll be with you for the rest of the day. the drop into Kinlochleven is mainly fast and fun, but it has it’s techie bits too. But the the Ciaran Path steals the show for real techie singletrack. And boy, does it keep delivering. The clamber back over into Glencoe is never as bad as it looks. And the drop back down the Staircase at the end makes it more than worthwhile.
5. Aviemore & the Cairngorms
There’s so much good mtbing in this area, we decided to cop out and name the whole area rather than any specific trail. It really does have it all: heathery, sandy singletrack that weaves its way between huge granite boulders; or twisty, rooty fun in the stunning pine forests that line the foothills. Favourites? The Lairig Ghru for atmosphere, mountain scenery and technical challenge, or Inshriach Forest for some top-notch singletrack fun.
Tom Hutton is a mountain bike guide, photographer and journalist. He has been the route researcher for mbr magazine for 17 years, provides classic route guides for Singletrack magazine and has written a number of guidebooks.
For more info on our legendary Ultimate Scotland Road Trip and our long Highland’s weekends, see our website