Biking high in the north: © 2023 Tofisch & Partner
weather, Whisky and wild trails
Scotland: TransHighlands - across the realm of the rebellious clans in the Scottish highlands
Today flying is really like driving a car was the first thought, when in Edinburgh the glass door of the airport opened in front of me. Thick raindrops splashed on my face and a strong gust of wind brought my rain coat to flutter. Scotland.
Mark, that got me against my conviction to bike to Scotland, came against me wearing a T-Shirt, took my Bike from the hand and meant: "It's soon over; the weather is always changing here!" After ten minutes and the remaining week of our TransHighland route from Laggan to Loch Torridon he was right.
© 2023 Tofisch & Partner I remember the stories, which I had to listen on the European mainland, when I casually mentioned that I intend to cross the Scottish highlands. "It's nice to bike in Scotland!" - As if! Most of people already were there, but only to move and to chill. All country-specific prejudices for Scotland were present: there is so much rain that webs are growing between your cleeds; or: the cold wind freezes your fingers on the handle bar; and even: mosquitoes are as big as piranhas and they sting you once across the thigh or they eat you to the bones directly from the bike!
Everything could Mark, Tim and Tom, the local heroes of the Scottish bike-scene, disprove me the first two days. Only on one day I was allowed to have the experience that there are also really Scottish mosquitoes: With a steely „No, I' m fine! " I refused to Tim's offer to rub my legs with baby lotion before the passage of a swampy area at the Loch Beinn A' Mehadhoin. The mosquitoes, in Scottish: midges indeed were tiny but to refuse Tim's offer was a biting error on this day.
Do as the locals do! - At the latest since now I thought so and I abided by that rule. Also by the mandatory visit in the pub. Where in Scotland each mountain bike-route begins and ends.
Already in the first evening I sit in the Loch Ericht Inn, convenient at the edge of the Cairngroms and I talk with Tim Francis, „the know-it-all "of the scene. Hardly one knows the Scottish highlands as good as he. Trails, animals, plants, landscapes and strange stories: hard to believe that he could develop this knowledge as an immigrant. Thousands of kilometers on the saddle in all directions, innumerable river crossings and passages of bearing through kneel-deep mud in the Scottish highlands make it possible. Without the experience of the insider, that is: if one do not know where he can drive, one is lost in the Scottish highlands. That also the government-faithful Red Coats had to determine by several rebellions of the highlanders without the bike.
© 2023 Tofisch & Partner With this impact on local background expected me one highlight after the other one. Scotland is a Mecca for trail-fetishists on broad soles. Already on the first day a foot-broad way snakes miles long highly the mountain during the crossing of the Monadhliath Mountains. By the close vegetation of erica on the left and on the right side the large lugs bore themselves deeply into the soft mossy soil and give perfect propulsion towards Corrieyairackpass. Only individual big stones and stages make some section technically difficult for the advanced mountain biker.
At alternation it was not missing a day. Already nearly kitschy areas lined with aged Scottish stone pines, framed of large surfaces of water drew the picture of the second day towards Tomich. Only an inconspicuous Landrover Road punctures the primal landscape until the horizon, where the southern end of the Loch Ness becomes already visible. Not a monster surprised us there, but a right Scottish downpour, which we had to bear until we were in Tomich. There we were in one of the innumerable bath & breakfast, which exist in each place in Scotland. Mr. Muir, the landlord, smashed the hands over the head together, when he saw our wet figures, but however he made a welfare warm fire in the open fire-place. At the same time he said to us that today in the pub next-door there are Scottish lamb steaks to eat. Mr. Muir meant that we surely would look forward to it same as he. He did not know how he was right.
© 2023 Tofisch & Partner After a short night a Scottish Mountain biker breakfast came convenient: blood sausage, scrambled egg, grilled tomato and mushrooms, in addition toast, much brown sauce and coffee. It was the hit the spot, in order to concern with strong thighs the last stages of the highland crossing: the mountain chains of the Glen Affric, Strath Glass and the Carn Eige Mountain, which are in the National Nature Reserves, piled up in front of our handle bars. Nearly insurmountably seem us the primal wild landscape form in front of us. But Tim knows the way. Several kneel-deep brook crossings later also we, Mark, Tom and I, can suspect the way. The distance proceeds unbelievably variedly by woods of stone pines usually on narrow single trails, past at the waterfalls of Glomach, desolate convenient cottages in the forests of Pait and Attadale. The technically very fastidious sections were a surprise for me. They make very fun, if one brought them behind itself without to set the foot of and they make a desire on a second attempt, if one was without success and lain in the soft shrubs on the back, while one is with the thoughts still on the distance.
© 2023 Tofisch & Partner Like the soldiers of William Wallace, Breaveheart or Bonnie Prince Charlie we must appeared to the few inhabitants, which we met on the way. Abrupt we are emerged from a close small forest or of a hidden ravine in the lonely convenient settlements with our steel steed. The settlements were built on important crossings, bridges or drive-crossings, which we also had to use. Amazing spacious is however the not settled area. Particularly it is claimed for the breed of very uncombed Scottish sheep or highland cattle. For the Scottish bill of fare and us Mountain biker it isn't a disadvantage. We divided gladly the single trails and roads in the exchange against a juicy „Highland steak ". A meeting with „the other kind "and many fences we appeared towards with countenance.
I reluctantly slipped my short rain trousers over, the last day. Cool and damp the air flows felt, which engulfed us like waves again and again. They came over the wildly cleft highland of the west coast of Scotland, from the Little Minch Lake, the Atlantic Ocean. Our aim Loch Torridon was no longer far away and with some melancholy I enjoyed the last kilometers of „Scottish trail riding " and then in the Ben Damph Inn one „single malt whisky ", what smelt equal mossy as the air and meanwhile also my whole bike-equipment: To Scotland.© 2023 Tofisch & Partner