Friday, May 04, 2007

Corrour and Kinlochleven

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

Day 1 video here.

Day 1 photos here.

Route description here.

I suddenly thought the other day this good weather with dry trails would be a great opportunity to have a couple of epic days up Rannoch way.
I thought at first a two day loop through Corrour would be a good bet but couldn't get hold of the hostel at Loch Ossian so then decided to do two single day loops from Fort William covering the same ground but doing a few more miles, (a lot more miles actually).

First day I wanted to cover some new ground so started at Fersit over the thieves road below Creag Dhubh.
Don't think I'd recommend this, its hard work climbing up a grassy trail through the forest, I'd have had an easier time on the forest road.
The thieves road certainly wouldn't be worth doing in the wet.
It was easier going from the bottom of the thieves road round to Loch Ossian Youth Hostel its all on good estate roads.
I took the south track along Loch Ossian its rougher than the north, passes the lodge, and was quite good fun.
At Ossian Hostel I met the hostel warden had a blether and got offered a nice cup of coffee, lovely!
He has been looking after the hostel for five years now winter and summer, quite a remote spot, nice, but you'd need to be just a little bit er...different... to stay there all the time.

The warden told me about the new road which goes north west to Loch Treig and Graiguineach Lodge its a fabulous firm track with a great descent to Loch Treig's old track along the lochside to the lodge.
The old track is a real gem, rough and mature, running just beside the loch.

I wasn't looking forward to the push up the west track in the Lairig Leacach but the dry weather had worked its magic and it was about 25% ridable and on the basis that riding is faster than walking I took every opportunity to get into the saddle.
At the top of the glen is a small bothy, there was a group of youngsters camped and the bothy looked as if it was being improved.
Up the rest of the glen from here the track is nice and ridable and the Larig descent seems to go on and on, I was wishing for full suspension so I could sit down to take the weight off my hands.

The last little bit along the south side of the river Spean was a lovely surprise a nice track through woodland to the footbridge river crossing at Monessie (Landranger 41 MR299810) giving 4km on the road back to the Fersit turn.

Day 2 to follow but its too nice outside to sit any longer at the computer, time to get out!

Well now that the sun's down and my outdoor need is over its time for the tale of day 2.

Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe

Video of day two here.

Photos of the day here.

Route description here

I stayed the night at Glen Nevis youth hostel and decided to start cycling from there.
I managed to avoid most of the busy road start by turning off into the Alcan mill taking a track to the left (before the level crossing)into the forest and on to the bottom of the gondola along the old tramway.
There seems to be some MTB track building going on in the forest but I didn't have time to investigate, I'll maybe take a look on the net for any info.
The early trail I was taking is forest road following signs for Spean Bridge then a little singletrack just after joining the return loop.

On the first day I'd come down the Larig Leacach and wasn't looking forward to the climb, however it wasn't as bad as I feared, I just took my time had a rest half way and managed fine.
From the bothy there is a great singletrack over to Luibeilt, I've never seen or heard reference to it in any MTB mags, but I think its great, 5 kilomtres of 90% ridable rough singletrack in the middle of nowhere, fabulous.

On the way across to Luibeilt I met up with a couple of trials motorcyclists coming the other way, they were telling me there's a six day trials event starting on the 7th of May. Hope the weather hold up for them.
I don't like trials bikes in general they just rip the trails to bits, I could see scars on the softer bits of the trail all the way over, fortunately most of the trail is good solid rock and is holding up.

Had to take my boots off to ford the river at Luibeilt, using the bike as a ballancing aid. A couple of walkers passed by as I sat having a spot to eat, they'd been bothying some where over the hill.

The next bit of trail was just as I remembered, unrelentingly rough for the next 6 kilometres, but most of the many puddles were dry which was something to be thankfull for I suppose.
By the time I got to above Kinlochleven I was shaken to bits and would have been very happy if the route ended there, shame there was still 21 kilometres to go, every one a bone shaker.

I met some more trials motor cyclist above Kinlochleven, organisers this time, marking out the trail over the hill to Blackwater reservior, at least they would be keeping well off the mountain bike trail.

This is the point where the view down Loch Leven to the Pap of Glencoe appears as the ridge is crested, the track improves a little, just enough to allow a glance up at the stunning view every now and again.
It doesn't last though the track soon goes back to super rough with no chance of admiring the view except by stopping, so thats what I did.
Nothing for it but to eat the last energy bar adimire the view and tell myself pain is natural, it can be accepted and tolerated just like.....sleep...argh!

For all the sore body parts I still decided to follow the West Highland Way, rather than the road, back to the Hostel.
Its shorter but it certainly isn't the easy option, three almost impossible stiles, loads of drainage gaps to jump, stairs, and three very steep climbs before a hugh blast down a smooth forest back to the hostel.
All that was left to do was have a much needed shower and a bite to eat before setting off home.


Blogger Jinxx said...

Sounds like you had a real blast up there, must get up there soon, got family in Glencoe, so not a problem finding somewhere to kip.

Got a real shock when i was up at the old railway line at Burton farm, its all been tarmaced, fantastic for a road bike, but its too tame for a blast on the MTB

11:33 PM  
Blogger Whee said...

Good couple of days but the Kinlochleven loop was a bit too much for my state of fitness.

At least the Burton railway gets you off the main road.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Jinxx said...

Now all they have to do, is find a way up to the masts avoiding the main road, plus that new section at Fisherton is superb for belting down, especially if the gates are open

8:53 AM  
Blogger Whee said...

I think we may be waiting a long time for that bit of track, fingers crossed though who knows how far lottery money will go.

4:12 PM  

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