My plan was to bike from Ardgay to Ullapool, camp overnight then head back to Ardgay the next day.
Rather than carrying bikepacking kit I decided to stay in a hostel. I asked if any of the Nethy Phat Boys wanted to come along and even though there was fair interest, in the end only George and me made the trip. Him on his Specialized Rockhopper and me on my Trek Roscoe 8.
Day 1 was one of those annoying days where it’s hot but cloudy and it rains heavy showers for a couple of minutes then dries up to lovely weather, only to begin pissing down again 2 minutes after you stop to take off your waterproofs. 20 miles in, a strong headwind picked up and a combination of that, being cold and wet and hungry meant the last 15 or so miles was purgatory.
We arrived in Ullapool 7 and bit hours after setting off and booked into the hostel. A hot shower, clean dry clothes and a hot meal and a couple of pints had me feeling on top of the world.
Day 2 started well with better weather, a continental breakfast and about 4 gallons of coffee. We loaded up and rolled out with the wind at our backs. There’s an amazing sense of freedom when you know you’re going to get wet but you don’t have to worry about drying out your kit for the next day. Turns out for the best because the track had turned pretty much into 35 miles of river.
We blasted through puddles, and pools, and streams. We waded through a river crossing and spirits were so much better than when we had come in the other direction. The terrain was brilliant mix of loose, rocky gravel and semi hard-pack, with streams of fresh rainwater and pools and puddles. We were whooping and hollering and laughing and sending massive plumes of water over each other as we raced and carved over the rocks and bunnyhopped into puddles to soak each other even more. It felt like almost the whole way back was downhill.
5 hours later, soaked to the skin, dripping mud and high on endorphins our wee adventure came to an end when we arrived back in Ardgay. We loaded the kit, changed into dry clothes then hit a cafe for fry up before heading home.
A brilliant weekend and great company on a route I’ll definitely be doing again.
Words and Photos – Jack