Torridon Tour

This was always going to be a big day and was the real focus of the trip. I was up early, breaking camp in the frigid air beneath the pines. Brushing the ice away I rolled the damp fabric, numbing fingers before driving down the dramatic road from Kinochewe, abandoning the car at the small, free - usually boggy and midge ridden in summer - campsite in Torridon itself. I would have to ride back along this same road to start the route proper, heading out beside Loch Clair and Loch Coulin. No great hardship and a gentle spin on tarmac served to loosen stiff legs.
It is a popular spot for photographers, the lochs providing a beautiful foreground for images of Liathach - though it is so overdone now that I think I prefer the view above of Beinn Eighe from further along the track.
Leaving the lochs behind, a short climb and swift descent through pines was followed by a further section of landrover track leading away from the Coulin Pass.
Passing a number of deer I then saw an eagle high above, circling on thermals and watched awhile...
...grateful for a short breather on the steepening singletrack heading out into the midst of Torridon, Fuar Tholl looming ahead. This climb is never steep and is all rideable, leading eventually to a broad coll marking the start of an unforgettable descent.
With something of everything thrown in - bedrock slabs, twisting switchbacks, drop offs and jumps and a final plunge through the pines - the drop to Achashellach is one to return for another day.
But next time I will approach from the north and join this descent with that from the pass beneath Sgorr Ruadh - the ribbon of track leading into the snows seen above.
From Achnashellach another spin on tarmac preceded a slow climb to reach Bealach na Lice.
Again it is almost all rideable, but with tired legs I pushed more than I should have, even resorting to mint cake on the last climb to the pass. Spirits soared as the coll approached and I sighted another Eagle - more likely the same bird.
The descent from Bealach na Lice is well known and deserving of its reputation as one of the best. Stony, narrow tracks cut down past Loch an Eion... which time the light was beginning to fail...
...before some simply superb riding lends itself to a fast, sometimes smooth sometimes rough but always brilliant, unbroken descent of over 400m back to sea level.
I paused a few times - the light was simply to good not to stop...
...and finished amongst the pines once more as the sun set across the upper sea loch.
48km and one of the best rides yet, but I'd need an easier objective for the next and last morning in Torridon tomorrow.