We’ve been exploring this area for 10+ years, and it might sound corny but no matter how often we ride in this remote corner of Scotland the sheer scale of the mountains and the quality of the trails never fail to blow us and our guests away as we unload the bikes and take our first pedal strokes deep into this magical wilderness.
When we shared this epic place with Danny Milner of MBR Magazine he was smitten after the very first pedal stroke into the glens:
They voted it ‘Trail of the Year 2011′ after spending a week with us cherry picking the best riding in the area, so come find out whether they were exaggerating or not!
Every sense, every muscle, every skill in your mountain biking armoury will be challenged and rewarded in equal measure as we ride in a landscape where dinosaurs wouldn’t look out of place – the North West Highlands of Scotland are a truly must ride destination!
Trips typically begin with a fresh coffee (of course!) and a rendezvous around 08:30 in the Tweed Valley with alternative pick-ups in Edinburgh, Perth and Inverness (full details are sent out beforehand).
After high-fives and handshakes, a last-minute supply run may be the order of the day, then we safely secure our precious cargo onto our custom bike trailer, load the minibus, turn on the tunes and kick off the adventure!
As we truck north to our secret loch-side HQ, we’ll treat ourselves to a tasty post-lunch ride on some lesser-known trail delights. By the time we swing into the Glen we’ll be ready to crack open the beers and rustle up a hearty dinner – and maybe even enjoy an ale or a dram* by the fire overlooking tomorrow’s mountains.
*Maybe best not overdo it though…Day 2 might be a big one!
Waking up to 360 degree epicness – stunning views of mountains rising straight from the loch; it’s quite a spot to polish off a hearty breakfast, drain the last drop of fresh java from the cafétière before donning bike gear, fettling bikes and steering a course for those very same peaks.
Day 2 could be a ‘three-sandwich’ kind of day…whichever route we pick, prepare to be out in the mountains all day, picking the best lines amongst the boulder strewn singletrack the northwest highlands are notorious for. You can expect the bike to be over your shoulder or on your back at points – the riding in this part of Scotland has its challenges for everyone, but the best descents in Europe are well worth the effort. And the awesome mountain backdrop helps take the sting out of the climbs so don’t forget your camera!
Plus, we all know the beer tastes sweeter when it’s earned.
On day 3 it’s time to return to the big mountain buffet for a flavour of your choosing: there’s no shortage of new trails and new views to blow your socks off! With a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast under our belts, there should be plenty of fuel in the tank to get right back to it and get stuck in to the good stuff.
By now you’ll be getting your eye in, and hopefully understanding why we just can’t keep ourselves away from this place. Big climbs, big scenery, big smiles: it’s all there to be earned. Serious days call for serious relaxation back at base though, so alongside a hearty evening meal we can raise a glass to our achievements so far.
We’ll see how everybody’s feeling after two big mountain days – today’s an optional chill-out or ‘lighter’ ride day.
You might be curious to see the area at a slightly more leisurely pace, or just burning to know what the local whisky tastes like! As good as it is, this part of Scotland has a lot going for it to compliment the great riding, so we’ll make sure to show you a little of the special character of the area.
Today’s one of those mornings where the mountain views from a cosy bed may slow up progress for a while, but what’s waiting for us on the Isle of Skye has a stronger pull than the duvet!
We’ll pick a tasty route – whether an epic point-to-point, a stunning coastal loop, or a short uber-technical alpine sortie, or even a combo if time and stamina allow. We’ll grab coffee and cake after the ride (are you sensing we like our coffee!!) and by the time we roll back to HQ in the evening, it’ll be time for a loch side BBQ, a hearty home-cooked meal or some pub fayre served locally.
Retracing the ancient coffin road (singletrack) across the Applecross Peninsula we’ll climb onto an exposed headland with stunning views all around, before weaving our way to the coast, climbing and descending on some of the world’s most ancient rock. Singletrack created by the Gods!
Your prayers will be answered because the ride finishes nearby one of Scotland’s finest and friendliest seafood restaurants – the Applecross Inn. After a late lunch at the Inn, we’ll travel over the UK’s most alpine pass – Bealach-na-Ba – to catch the setting sun as we truck back to HQ. There might be some legs that are glad for the relief, but we reckon your head will be bursting with ideas and dreams to come back here!
Just as you’re getting into the groove, you realise it’s our very last day…after a relaxed breakfast, we’ll sort out our kit, take one last look at this incredible part of Scotland before starting our homeward journey south.
*The itinerary provided for each trip is representative of the types of activities contemplated, but the route, schedules, itineraries, amenities and mode of transport may be subject to alteration without prior notice due to local conditions, circumstances or events.
We want you to pick the right mountain bike trip in Scotland for your fitness and technical ability – it helps ensure you’ll be riding with people of a similar skill level and can ride at the pace you want to ride at.
We’ve developed a trip grading based on our experience riding the terrain that features on our trips, as well as meeting and learning from riders from all over the world and understanding their expectations.
Please read the following guidelines carefully to ensure you pick a mountain bike holiday in Scotland suited to your skill and fitness. If you are unsure if a trip is right for you, please contact us.
This trip is our most advanced trip and will be enjoyed by riders at 3++ level.
The goal of the Technical Rating is to understand the ability of the rider as it pertains to obstacles, conditions and trail design. This means it has nothing to do with your physical endurance, but is instead strictly a measure of your technical ability. Making sure you accurately rate your technical ability will ensure you have an exciting ride, while remaining within your ability level to keep you safe.
We use ‘+’ to designate when a trip is at the top of a grading e.g 2+ is just below grading 3; and ‘++’ when a trip grading subsumes all other higher gradings e.g. 3++ would be suitable for 3+ riders as well as grading 4 and 5 riders.
You are a confident mountain biker and have been riding technical terrain for at least 2 years including exposed singletrack and rough landrover track, on uneven, loose and frequent steep gradients, with frequent variation in trail surfaces from rocks to roots. You are comfortable riding on trails approximately 12 inches wide that vary greatly in their stability and may be unpredictable including loose rock. You are comfortable regularly traversing unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, logs and drop offs up to 15 inches tall, and some obstacles encountered may exceed that.
You are an expert mountain biker and have been riding expert level trails for at least 5 years. You think of yourself as a ‘mountain biker’ and you already know that the more competent a bike handler you are beforehand, the more you’ll get from the trip; you’re confident riding unpredictable terrain and using bunny hopping and front/rear wheel lifting techniques and relish unpredictable, varied natural ungraded trail surfaces including a mix of flowy and loose rocky or rooty singletrack, landrover tracks, steep technical climbs (including hike-a-bike sections) and descents, frequent rocks, slabs and water bar drainage features.
You are comfortable riding on trails of any width that are highly unstable and are completely unpredictable including loose rock. You are comfortable regularly traversing unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, logs and drop offs well over 15 inches tall, and many obstacles encountered will exceed that. You are comfortable riding any technical trail features that may be present on the trail.
Level 5 is reserved for our Level 4 Expert riders who live and breath mountain biking and take every opportunity to manual, nose-wheelie and bunnyhop the trails. You love the biggest, most technically challenging trail features – up or down. Speaking of which, you also know that in order to go down, you must pedal (and carry) up and can handle any trail conditions or obstacles identified in Level 4.
This trip will be enjoyed by fit riders who rate themselves 3-5 for endurance.
The goal of the Endurance Rating is to understand the ability of the rider as it pertains to overall physical endurance. Riding on the road or in “Spin Class” is great and all, but mountain biking is a completely different animal (ask anyone who has made the switch). The reason being is that the terrain is changing every second, which forces your entire body and your mind to be involved in the exercise process. This exertion will cause exhaustion to set in a lot quicker than you think. Be sure you read the descriptions carefully because we want you to have fun out there, not think this is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
You are an avid mountain biker riding twice a week or more, and the weather isn’t a big factor for you. You are at an above-average fitness level, and regularly do other activities that qualify as exercise. You usually find yourself riding for 3 hours on the trails, you’ll ride on consecutive days, and you ride at a moderate pace.
You are a very avid mountain biker, who is considered an ‘athlete’ by friends and only getting out on the trails twice in the week is a bad week for you. Riding and exercising is a frequent part of your weekly routine: you relish sustained challenging riding including long rides of 4 – 6 hours at a moderate pace for four or more days in a row.￼ The weather is never a factor for you, rain or shine – you are riding.
You are fit! You devour 6 – 8 + hour rides for five or more days in a row.￼ You are an XC or Enduro racer who probably missed their flight to the World Cup / Enduro World Series this year because you were too busy training so you opted to come for a ride with us instead. You train on your mountain bike daily, and you are comfortable riding on trails for distances in excess of 60km per day and climbing vertical in excess of 7000 feet in a day. You ride your bike everywhere, in all weather conditions, and would likely enjoy riding in a hurricane.
Where we stay during our mountain bike tours of Scotland plays almost as big a part in the overall experience as the trails we ride.
We use a wide variety of accommodation, from wild camping and bothy huts in remote wilderness settings to rustic hostels through to comfortable and friendly inns and guest houses, luxury self catering lodges, castles and everything in between.
On this trip, we stay in a ‘lodge’ on a bed and breakfast basis – think of it a bit like a ski lodge (without the snow obviously!); a comfortable self-catering vacation rental chalet in the heart of mountain biking heaven.
Our lodges provide a fantastic base in a prime location to come back to at the end of a big day in the hills – with the added benefit that you don’t need to unpack and repack throughout your trip, and the flexibility of full catering, laundry and drying facilities at your disposal.
Food & Drink
Mountain biking in Scotland means you will be hungry (very hungry!) and despite the remoteness of this particular trip, there are opportunities to enjoy great fresh Scottish fayre and of course a dram or two and a fine ale!
Breakfasts are included and are provided on a help yourself continental style basis to set you up for the day e.g fruits, yogurts, muesli, cereals, porridge, juices, breads etc (dietary requirements are taken into account from your booking).
There will be opportunities for you to buy packed lunch provisions to carry on the rides, or, depending on routes we may enjoy a great cafe stop or lunch at a traditional Inn (your guides will let you know the plan each day).
Some meals are enjoyed in locally selected inns and bistros, and for the rest, provisions will be purchased on your behalf by ourselves to enjoy preparing meals at the beautiful accommodation facilities. A lochside BBQ is also a regular occurrence (your guides will let you know the plan each day).
We estimate a budget of £20 to £35 per person per day is adequate for lunches and evening meals with refreshments.
On the journey north, we’ll be stopping off in the city of Inverness – here we will refuel and have access to a great selection of lunch, snack and alcohol supplies. During the course of the trip, as well as relying on local suppliers, on occasion, we arrange online shopping deliveries to our accommodation.
Experience a week exploring the best trails of the Northwest Highlands and the Isle of Skye expertly curated to pack an unforgettable punch
Professional Guides (two minimum) – expertly trained, hugely experienced but most of all great fun and with a wealth of local knowledge to share!
Six nights accommodation in a stunning lochside lodge in the heart of the Northwest Highlands
Help yourself buffet breakfasts to set you up for the day
Free transport (start/finish of the trip)
Shuttles throughout the trip
Professional mountain bike guides
Qualified first aid assistance
Mechanical assistance throughout your trip
Your first meal with refreshments is our welcome to you (no cost)
Ping-pong (everybody’s favourite!)
BBQ facilities on the lochside deck
Apres-bike swimming in the Loch!
Full kitchen, laundry and drying facilities
Secure bike storage
Bike wash facilities
Detailed pre-departure information
Trip photo album
Meals and drinks except breakfasts and those stated above
Additional transportation or accommodation should you be unable to complete the trip
Additional accommodation before, during or after the trip
Baggage / bike box collection & storage
Single room supplement (if applicable)
Initial departure point: 08:45, Co-op Supermarket, Innerleithen (free parking available)
Pick-up point two: 09:30/45, Edinburgh Park train station
Rendezvous point: Lochside Avenue entrance / Premier Inn (Gyle) side of the track (Edinburgh Airport Tram connection is available, 12 min journey)
Pick-up point three: 10:30/45, Perth Services Travelodge Hotel, Perth
Pick-up point four: 12:30/45, Aviemore Train Station , Aviemore
Journey time to the accommodation in Strathcarron is approximately five hours excluding stops
Near Aviemore, we’ll have a quick lunch in a fantastic bistro and afterwards enjoy a short two hour ride to sample the trails and stretch the legs before continuing northwards
In Inverness – approx 17:00/30 – we’ll refuel and pick up essential supplies before the last leg of our journey to Strathcarron, arriving at the lodge approximately 19:30
At the end of the trip, we will be arriving back in the Edinburgh (Park) area around 15:00/16:00, and Innerleithen by 16:00/17:00
Luggage & Bike Transportation
For all trips, there is allowance for one large holdall plus riding backpack per person
Regrettably, we do not have provision to store/carry bike bags and boxes during trips – please ask your accommodation e.g. in Edinburgh if they can store it for you; most will be happy to. Please request this service in advance
Bikes are securely carried (fully-assembled) and attached to our custom Burtech trailer and should be ready fully assembled for the trip start
We always recommend guest bikes are fully insured
A fully serviced 3 – 6 inch travel full suspension bike with dropper seatpost and hydraulic disc brakes is recommended
It’s entirely possible to take part in our trips on more modest setups or hardtails but we find that over the course of several consecutive days riding, the added comfort and confidence of a full suspension trail bike is a real asset, and enhances the overall experience
If you prefer not to travel with your bike, or you’d like to try something new, we have access to some of the best full suspension mountain bikes available from brands including Santa Cruz, Juliana, Trek, Orange and Whyte to name just a few
If you’re interested in hiring a great bike, we have fantastic deals from our retail partners– available from £50 per day – so please just ask or add this option to your trip on the booking page
If you’re hiring a bike, for your safety and comfort we always recommend bringing your
own helmet and pedals
Groups & Individuals
We welcome solo travellers (in fact most of our guests travel solo) but did you know that if you’re making a group booking (2+ riders) you’ll automatically save money at the checkout (up to 18%) whether you’re booking for a club, colleagues, friends or family – whoever’s in your tribe.
To secure a booking, we require a 25% deposit when the reservation is made, with the balance payable within 60 days of your booking commencement. For bookings made less than 60 days before booking commencement, full payment is required at the time of booking.
Our guides are fully trained and qualified to the highest standards required to operate in the mountain environments where our trips take place.
“So what, we’re a bunch of friends, we ride lots and we’re pretty good at navigation.”
We hear this all the time, and we don’t want to baby anyone. That’s why we offer self-guided packages too, once we’re confident that our clients will be safe first, and have a great experience second.
Scotland is a beautiful but wild place. When you pay for our services, you’re paying for the reassurance that we know our way around the mountains, how to read people, the local conditions, logistics, fix mechanicals and always have a another ‘plan A’ up our sleeve.
As well as being extraordinarily great human beings (as standard!), all our mountain bike guides hold, as a minimum, the Mountain Bike Leader qualification and emergency outdoor first aid qualifications. We believe these to be the most robust and rigorous qualifications in the business and the minimum standard for running trips like ours in Scotland. They’re not easy to come by but your enjoyment is our business.
An adventure wouldn’t be an ‘adventure’ without a degree of risk. It’s our job to manage those risks so you have the best time possible. As well as substantial field first aid kits, your mountain bike guides will be packing (or distributing among the group) essential group emergency items including mobile telecom’s, VHF long-range radios, emergency survival shelters, and extra emergency clothing and supplies.
Speaking of guides – we operate with the highest ratio of professional guides to clients in the industry. The current regulations permit one guide per group of eight. We don’t agree this is acceptable. We’re a lot more comfortable with at least two staff per eight clients, and a maximum group size of eight in the sensitive mountain environments we run our trips. Sure, we might not be the most profitable outfit in the industry but we strive to be the safest.
We employ robust late back procedures, and every trip is fully risk assessed. While no one can guarantee a 100% safe trip, we do everything possible to minimise risks. And long before we depart we ensure the trip is suitable for you – none of this one size fits all approach – it simply doesn’t work.
Only one thing matches our desire to enjoy Scotland’s amazing outdoors and that’s our commitment to contribute to sustainable adventure tourism in Scotland.
We operate ‘small footprint’ mountain bike adventures to minimise any negative environmental impacts of running our business. We are often asked about running large group trips in remote, sensitive locations but in line with our safety and environmental policy – that’s not really our forté.
As well as being members of the key environmental organisations in Scotland, we encourage our clients to consider their interaction with the environments they are riding wherever possible. We also make use of local hospitality, products and services to ensure our trips contribute economically to the rural environments we enjoy so much. We took another small step in the right direction recently by becoming members of ‘1% for the Planet’. But we must do more.
Consumer Financial Protection
Our Consumer Financial Protection insurance protects your money. This is in fact a legal requirement but not every adventure company even knows this and some choose to ignore it. Why? Because it’s expensive and complicated to become fully insured in this way, and not every application is accepted. Ours was. Your money is safe with us.
Tour Operators Liability
Did you know that in the UK it’s us, the tour operators, who are liable for all aspects of your mountain bike holiday bike package in Scotland? That’s why we have ‘Tour Operators Liability Cover’. Always ask your supplier if they have this insurance. You need it and they should have it.
We work hard to maintain high professional standards but you probably wouldn’t know it because we’re having way too much fun. Ten years on it still puts the biggest smile on our faces when our clients take time out to tell us how much they enjoyed their mountain bike trip in Scotland. See what ‘Our Clan’ have to say about their mountain bike holiday on Google
and via our trip reviews