Ruari, our Highland Development Coordinator, took some time out last week to plan a mini adventure with his family. He shared the photos with us and we loved them and the idea so much we asked him to do this wee piece to inspire others to plan their own adventure.
Absolutely spoilt for choice here in this wonderful country of ours, the Highlands of Scotland though are captured in many of our hearts and for sure, the rest of team DMBinS will be doing more highland adventuring before much longer.
Good on both Ruari's wee lads for doing this big ride.
This summer many families have chosen to stay closer to home and enjoy a staycation. Living in the Highlands has allowed us to stay really close to home and still have some great family adventures. Last week we caught the first train on the west Highland line along Loch Treig to Corrour. Made famous in the film Trainspotting, the station, sitting high and remote somewhere between the west coast, Rannoch moor and Perthshire – really does feel like you are right in the middle of Scotland.
The staff on the train were great, seeming genuinely excited to have been part of our 8- and 10-year olds one-way train ride as they waved us off on the platform with our bikes.
First priority was breakfast at Corrour station house – a lovely cosy wee place right next to the platform that is well used to welcoming tired and damp hill walkers and cyclists to wait for the train home. A picture on the wall read ‘Corrour, you can’t sail there, you can’t fly there, you can’t drive there’ – it feels properly remote!
The venison they use comes directly from the hills around the estate, where our wee guys school pal’s dad is a stalker, so we all went for a roll with a chunky venison sausage to set us up for the day.
The route we planned was all easy riding on estate tracks, a 20 mile circuit well away from public roads, through some big Highland scenery.
Leaving the station, we pedalled down to Loch Ossian, and passed by the Loch Ossian youth hostel – a remote wee place that we thought would be great to return to for a night away. The riding along the lochside eased us into the day, catching glimpses of the secluded Corrour lodge.
Riding gently uphill away from the track took us into some more dramatic mountain landscapes, with plenty of time and space to take in the unfamiliar views. Thankfully a strong tailwind, pushed us up the one long climb quickly and effortlessly, and as we turned the corner we started to see some more familiar landmarks – the boys recognised the knobbly peak of Binnein Shuas which they had been on before, and the dark triangular Beinn a’Chaorainn drew us on, down the long downhill towards Loch Laggan.
By this stage the boys knew we were on the final stretch, and after around 15 miles I decided I’d not carried a packed lunch all this way for nothing so we took a break to boost our reserves for the last wee bit back to Fersit where we left the car the previous evening. The last mile or so we cruised back along the quiet singletrack rode past wee Lochans to reach the car at 19.5 mile. So obviously as any good parents would, we made the boys get back on the bikes for a final wee stretch to reach a nice round 20 miles. They will thank us for that sometime later.
Whilst trail centres are a great place for the whole family to go mountain biking and build their capabilities, our Corrour experience showed us that with just a little imagination and careful planning, you can have great experiences that are totally manageable for an active family, into some inspiring landscapes.
Do remember that if venturing away from the more familiar trails to be well prepared – lots of proper food and snacks, appropriate clothing, including spare warm and waterproof layers. Well prepared bikes and spares.
A group shelter can save lives if something goes wrong but can also boost spirits and add a fun timeout from the riding if needed. Oh, and a camera to capture the memories.