Highland Trail 550 – Gear freak-out

The 2018 Highland Trail got a little too exciting for me, and in the end wasn’t a completion, although it had nothing to do with my gear choices. I do like to indulge in a little gear nerding from time to time, and optimizing my kit for this year gave me something to think about in the months leading up to May. At the end … Continue reading Highland Trail 550 – Gear freak-out

Tread lightly: A Tale of Three Plateaus

  The granite plateaus of the cairngorms began their life far from the sun, at the roots of a mountain chain, at a time when Scotland and America were still parts of the same landmass. Wind, water and ice took their toll, and the mountains were eroded into nothing, but their roots remained. Ice came and took bites from it, but the granite was only … Continue reading Tread lightly: A Tale of Three Plateaus

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The Out Track: 2018 Highland Trail 550

The clock says that it’s three in the afternoon, although you could tell me it’s 3am and that would feel about right. My first reaction to my own truncated attempt at this year’s Highland Trail 550 and the fallout from it was to simply forget about it: there’s always next year, best perhaps to chalk it up to experience. There was always going to be … Continue reading The Out Track: 2018 Highland Trail 550

Introducing the Caribou

When Annie and me met Sarah and Thor Tingey at the UK packraft roundup at Inshriach last June, water levels were on the bony side of optimal, but we went for a ride through the dusty pinewoods anyway, and took boats so that we could float down the Spey back to base. It turned out it was the first time that Sarah and Thor had … Continue reading Introducing the Caribou

East winds and Snotcicles on the Lochaber Tundra

It’s pretty easy to laugh at Scottish skiers, given the flurries of speculation and planning at the first sign of snowfall, and what constitutes ‘all time’ conditions in a country when any snow is sometimes a blessing. On reflection though, I’m not sure that I can really point the finger, given the number of routes that I’ve traced along the map while dreaming of winter … Continue reading East winds and Snotcicles on the Lochaber Tundra

The Kindness of Strangers: A festive LEJOG

It wasn’t my idea, and I doubt I ever would have had the audacity to suggest it to anyone, even if it had been. In fact, when Jenny mentioned her plans to do a four day, Land’s End to John O’ Groats ride over the New Year weekend, my brain made a little shudder and thought only about how grim it sounded. Well, most of … Continue reading The Kindness of Strangers: A festive LEJOG

Review: Gore Alp-X Pro Windstopper Shorts

Every now and then I find a piece of kit that’s so useful, I end up stocking up on replacements long before they show any sign of wearing out, so horrendous is the idea of spending any time without them – these Windstopper shorts from Gore fit that bill perfectly.   I was aware that they existed for quite a while before I considered trying … Continue reading Review: Gore Alp-X Pro Windstopper Shorts

Clockwork Ghosts: the 2017 Highland Trail 550

    I’ll begin at the end.   There is a searchlight moon hanging low in the sky, but it’s almost hidden behind the squat silhouette of Buachaille Etive Mor. Although it’s bright tonight, the wash of pale blue light does little to fill the shadows of ink that deepen to black in the coires and gulleys, where vague outlines merge into one another. It’s … Continue reading Clockwork Ghosts: the 2017 Highland Trail 550

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Way out West: Bikerafting in the Outer Hebrides

  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Scotland is an infinitely more varied and variable part of the world than its size and tourist-pleasing stereotypes would suggest. The mainland alone is a geological patchwork quilt of different massifs and ecosystems, of different accents and too many unhealthy foods to count. Macaroni pie, anyone? As well as the mainland, there are of course … Continue reading Way out West: Bikerafting in the Outer Hebrides

Highland Trail 550 – Kit List

Since the ITT I rode of the Highland Trail 550 in May last year, I feel like I’ve learned a lot more about optimising kit and strategies for covering a lot of miles as lightly and efficiently as possible. Of course, it’s always possible to go faster by having a better engine or spending less time stopped, but well thought out kit makes a massive … Continue reading Highland Trail 550 – Kit List