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The Great Glen – The Hard Way

When searching for routes across Scotland, the mind wanders to the far north – the wild and untamed areas of Scotland. Yet there are also ways to navigate the Highlands, and of them all, The Great Glen Way is perhaps the most famous. Hoardes of tourists flock to the area, and many walkers choose to tackle the route, and so do cyclists too. Yet, the Great Glen way is designed for just that market – those seeking a milder “adventure”.

Truly, it is a remarkable Glen and the Great Glen Way is a fine example of shared trail spanning 73 miles from Inverness on the east coast through to Fort William on the west. Parts of the Way itself make for superb riding, yet what we wondered was could we take the Great Glen Way, add in a few kinks, twists and turns with the help of an OS map and get ourselves into some real terrain.

Former Crankworx Whip Off winner Neil Stewart and Brett Penfold joined us on this journey from the milder climes of Inverness on the east to the rugged, more unpredictable west coast and the town of Fort William.

“To find such amazing riding in an environment that was tough, yet quite accessible was pretty mind blowing. It was more the variety that shocked me – massive mountains, sculpted jump trails, and some amazing singletrack”
Neil Stewart

“As soon as we left the Great Glen Way we were into some pretty tasty terrain, and it made for long days, some of it hiking but the descents were awesome. Despite being on Munroes in our shelters drinking coffee to get warm, and experiencing every weather you can think of, this was what Scotland is all about to me” Brett Penfold

“It’s right on my door step really, but I’ve never spent a week riding across Scotland before. It’s not just the riding either, the deer, buzzards, massive lochs, bothies and being from England where land access is difficult, Scotland’s right to roam is the gateway to seeing places you’d never see otherwise. We couldn’t have done it without our guide though, Mark Clark took us to places that we just wouldn’t have known about and his dark sense of humour kept us going all day, and night, long!” Tommy Wilkinson, Photographer

With a few kinks, twists and turns we had managed to navigate along the Glen in 3 days. They were big days, and the contrasts of going from areas that were geared up for tourism then within an hour being up side-glens and heading up Munroes was quite something.

After arriving in Fort William, taking a quick detour ride up to the North Face of Ben Nevis and eventually enjoying a pint at the Ben Nevis Inn, we were able to reminisce on a ride that might not have taken us to our limits physically or mentally, but a ride that was truly sublime by the surprising nature of how accessible all of it was.

Maybe, just maybe, the best rides are right in front of noses.

You can download the music featured in this video here:

Mtn Tune – Trails and ways

Sjowgren – Seventeen

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