When it comes to cycling in the Scottish Highlands mountain biking is well-catered for... Home to some popular trail centres and some epic downhill tracks such as those at Fort William, there are also a host of much quieter areas to enjoy some natural single track.
VOOM ambassador Kate O'Callaghan shares this route close to Torridon in the Northern Highlands. With fantastic views, fast downhills and even a spot of hike-a-bike iths route is for anyone after some adventure! As MTB routes go the Achnashellach loop is fairly remote and out in the wild, so make sure to pack sensibly with tools and appropriate clothing!
As a summary this 23km/14mile ride climbs from a minimum elevation of 40m (130ft) beside Loch Dughaill to a maximum height of 725m (2400ft) when crossing the col just north of Sgorr Ruadh.
Mountain Biking Achnashellach, Torridon
Arguably my favourite loop in the UK, I'm forever torn between this and Heartbreak Ridge but I think this just about tops it thanks to the variety, the views and the epic surrounding mountains. The Achnashellach route has everything you want from a mountain bike loop, epic scenery, amazing single track and technical rock sections!
Step by Step Route
1) We park at Achnashellach station and use the 5km of flat road to get warmed up, heading South West. The quiet road runs alongside Loch Dughaill so its scenic with Achnashellach summit across the water. If you don't need a warm up you can start from the car park at Coulags, just where the A890 cross the Fionnna-abhainn stream, and get straight into the off-road climbing! Its worth noting that much of the land is managed by Estates so its important to be respectful so cyclists continue to be welcome here!
2) Head along the edge of the Achnashellach Estate with a cruise along a steady double track until you head properly off road and climb along beautiful single track for miles, passing the Coire Fionnaraich bothy.
3) The mountains start closing in as you head up past the mountain hut and along more single track to the edge of the tarn, Loch Coire Fionnaraich, about 6km after leaving the road.
4) A hike up a rocky path takes you on to the top of Bealach Ban, there you’re rewarded with views you just can’t beat! You head east, then South to reach the highest point on the route.
5) Passes through the col between the two peaks of Ben Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh signifies the start of the real fun with the next 7km virtually all downhill. The trail drops you in to some of the best fast and rocky single track in the UK, and it doesn’t end there!
6) As the trail bears right back towards Achnashellach station the riding is something else, rolling past waterfalls you're surrounded by incredible views and terrain as you fly down granite rock slabs, rocky drops and tight switch backs along a well built single track with insane grip all the way back to the van!
MTB Route Map