A LITTLE SLICE OF TORRIDON HEAVEN
By Nicole Mallett
Torridon has been on our bucket list for years; a place we have dreamed of riding and planned to visit many times but the weather was always against us.
This year we made it. With the sun out, surrounded by majestically large mountains and temperatures in the mid 20’s, we felt like we were in the Alps and miles from civilisation.
Torridon is a mountain biking mecca. The mountains are among the most dramatic in the UK and are made of some of the oldest rocks in the world, making for spectacular scenery and demanding, endless trails.
We only had two days out of our highland trip in Torridon, just enough to sample the epic and iconic Torridonian sandstone and rubble scattered paths that we’d read about. After lots of research and studying the maps, we chose a 20km and 35km route.
We were a week in to our holiday and had spent every day riding or walking Munros, the demanding Scottish miles (which I can confirm are at least twice a normal UK mile – much like a lake district mile!). The miles were starting to get to me.
The highlight of Torridon for me was the shorter, well-known Ben Damph route done anticlockwise. The circular route, although only 20km, has everything – lochside single track, white beaches, a demanding nadgery climb, views that will be imprinted in my memory for ever and the most delightful single-track descent.
After a short road section, the trail is on double track alongside the loch, this changes to boggy single-track, which apparently is ALWAYS boggy at the small fisherman’s hut. It’s here you start to feel like you really are out in the wild; a puddle strewn path surrounded by white sandy beaches and towering mountains.
The climbing starts at the end of the Loch. This area has recently been developed for access to a small dam, so is a little boring but the stunning backdrop takes you away from this, after the new dam starts the nadgery climb; it’s here when we were secretly quite happy that we had covered some miles on the new gravel access road.
The undulating stalkers path has absolutely no flow whatsoever, and I was constantly hopping on and off the bike. You must earn your descents, though right?! The top of the descent is one of these iconic MTB magazine pictures you see of Torridon showing the ribbon of single track all the way down.
Dropping 400m over 5km of rocky awesomeness the trail takes you over the famous Torridonian stone slabs, ribbons of Rocky single-track before coming to an un-rideable river crossing (time for a quick drink of the freshest spring water I have ever tasted) before finishing on a trail through a scot pine forest.
It’s one of those descents that you will tell all your friends about; it makes you grin from ear to ear for days and, it ends at the pub where we stopped for a post ride stoke filled pint!
Note: As already mentioned the best route is anticlockwise- so the first section is alongside the loch; an Instagram follower went to ride this after seeing my videos and couldn’t see what all the fuss and high stoke was about; he hiked up the descent and rode down the fire road!