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Rainy Days In Torridon

Torridon. The name conjures up images of ancient, jagged rock, sweeping vistas and a harsh, battered landscape. It's one of the most evocative and desirable areas of the Highlands for all sorts of adventures. Here, Mark from our Aviemore store goes for a challenging ride on the ancient rocks, dashing between the showers...

Over the years Torridon and the surrounding area has seen its fair share of mountain bike media exposure; from Steve Peat launching a new Santa Cruz, to visits from MTB legends like Matt Hunter & Thomas Vanderham testing the latest electronic drivetrains, and the ever present Sven Martin producing sublime photography. Torridon as seen the spot light. But still the weathered, millennial landscape holds it's secrets like a stubborn highland cow on the droving track. Wilderness is around every corner and the unforgiving nature of the west coast of Scotland is written into every bent tree branch and rivers eddy.

Today's mission has some added spice with the forecasted thunder storms due to dominate much of the country. With little optimism, but a deep yearning to explore, we pack the Gore-Tex, a change of clothes and set of from Speyside in torrential rain.

Torridon is easily accessed from Inverness, the steady flow of tourist camper vans the only obstacle on the last portion of the journey on slower single track road from Kinlochewe. Pulling up at the beach on the north side of Torridon we are greeted by a small sucker hole of blue, ushering in nervous excitement which quickly envelopes the van and hastens our preparation.

As we hit the first dirt (rock) on the ascent from Annat the sun explodes through the clouds and we are soon down to t-shirts and sweat drenched helmets. The route we have chosen rises up from Annat along the walkers path passing Loch an Eion, joining at the confluence of the Coulags path and the upward march north toward the impressive wall of Liathach across the valley.

Topping out at the head of Corrie Lair with Beinn Liath Mhor towering to our left we quickly pad up and brake check as we nervously dribble down to the defined start of the descent. Imagination runs wild as we ponder what ruin last night’s rain might have caused to the already tumultuous descent. As we roll forward we are relieved to feel a smooth (it's all relative) line down through the fields of rock and slab which have been kindly cleared by the combination of a extremely dry summer and the recent heavy downpour.

Once through ‘the valley of doom’ we take a left turn and miss out the notorious descent to Achnasheen in favour of the more flowy and shorter loop back up the north side of the Torridon horn. This descent, generally tackled as a climb, offers lovely turns interspersed with tricky water bars and a great bang for your buck.

With the technical descent done we quench our considerable thirst at the spectacular waterfall a kilometer before the old bridge. It's then onwards and back to tarmac via the newly surfaced estate road toward the Coulin Forrest while stopping briefly at my favourite view point at Loch Coulin...

Inevitably we don’t escape the west coast without a little reminder of who’s boss. Fifty seconds from the van the heavens open and we are wet through in a matter of seconds. Clothes and bike clean there's nothing for it but to treat the French tourists to some proper apres bike and head for a swim in the crisp salty water as large pregnant raindrops cleanse my brow...

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