|Near Fealar Lodge|
Route Type: Epic Day Out
Access Type: Rights of Way, Long Distance Routes, etc.
Blair Atholl: I'd say go up the castle drive
Bridge of Tilt car park: Starts from there really
Did I say I had had enough of epics after Outer Fife 4? Well er... this is only 54km according to the White book (Scotland Mountain Biking - The Wild Trails) and the Red Book (Bike Scotland 1) and afternoon easy.
I suppose doing a 60km road ride the previous night wasn't the best of preparation for this but with Selkirk looming I was going to have to get used to it, except more than double the road distance and add a wee bit to the MTB route.
We set off early afternoon (1226) from the Blair Atholl Village Hall car park and up the Castle Drive, this shuts at Dusk should you return this way but there is a path to the side which can be traversed on bike. Just after the first speed bump there is a road to the right, I remembered this being a path but with further development of the castle estate this is now good track, you could also go up past the castle and along beside the cemetery at Old Blair. The track drops you directly at the Glen Tilt Car Park and just across the road is signed Glen Tilt and Forest Lodge, this climbs steeply again on a good track with warnings of a steep gorge to the side of the road. There is a short cut signed near the end of the woods but did not explore
|One of the holiday cottages in the Glen|
A number of lodges residential, hunting and holiday lets are out this road and cars may be encountered but there is plenty of visibility. These also give an easy indication of your progress on the map and only once Forest Lodge is reached are you into the "real" wilderness.
|One of the footbridges across the Tilt|
After the forest lodge the conditions of the trail deteriorate slowly and you pass a number of foot bridges across to the Beinn A' Ghlo side of the river. Continue on the track until a fork junction takes the left hand route up hill and the right hand down to the river side, the track stops at a turning area and some single track takes you down to the "Bedford Bridge" at the falls of Tarff.
|The road deteriorates after Forest Lodge from Rough Track|
The planks on this bridge run longitudinally and the sides are basic so care should be taken when crossing but it is all rideable, once you are off the wooden ramp at the end you find yourself at a perfect rest area.
|To rocky Single Track|
|Approaching The Bedford Bridge|
|Falls of Tarff|
|Exposed singletrack climb to the ford|
|Looking down to the ford from the climb, note the high track |
above the ford, and the sheep trail starting low on the steeper side.
The guide books warn that if the rivers are in spate this is a dangerous crossing, you should have a good idea of this from the start of Glen Tilt so may be able to judge if it's worthwhile doing something else early on.
|Spot the trail... Yes this is Sheep track|
Once you cross the ford do not follow the path along the right hand burn, you will have noticed before you cross a path up the middle of the hill, this you should follow, unfortuantely I can't tell you what this was like as we took the sheep track which is about 1.5 size 43 cycling shoes wide and on a 66 degree slope.
Judging by the aerial photos we were really about 5m below where we should have been and once we found our way up to a clear area I spotted the path and took the bike up, the ground was fairly soft and I found it difficult to get going again and to keep going due to the bumpiness, I had my only SPD related fall of the day up here.
The climb and soft going are worth it though as the views of the surrounding area are stunning (see the title photo).
Following the grass/peat track we eventually got to a sheep field belonging to Fealar lodge, the path is fairly visible throguh and eventually you see the lodge and the target gate.
When you reach the lodge you are at the remotest settlement in Scotland. From here you have an immense landrover track descent/climb/descent to Daldhu. This starts by going the other side of the gorge you've just walked along the side of, you do this an awful lot quicker than you climbed the other side.
|Bridge on the Descent between Fealar and Daldhu|
|Looking back to Daldhu from the Glen Loch track|
|The track fades to this|
|And then to this|
Once we had forded the burn and pushed on to a track within 3 minutes we were passing the spots where the broken bridges were!
|Finally a Ford|
It's track all the way now, rough to start with down to Shinagag and then well made with some stiff climbs and swooping descents to Loch Moraig.
|A resting point|
The sun was now setting (2040) and hitting the public road at Loch Moraig was brilliant, this was where my roadie instinct cut in. On solid surfaces the Zaskar handles as well as my road bikes, and in some cases better and this is a stonker of a descent in places the visibility required backing off and in others I could just nail it, the 2.1" tyres screaming their way past 50km in places, yes slow by road standards for such a descent but after the fun descents on loose paths this was a perfect ending to the route, the caravans in the estate park flew past and the road throguh Blair Atholl appeared, a quick jink into the triangle junction and a clear road meant I could carry the speed all the way into the village hall carpark.
It was 2101 we had been going for almost as long as the Tour De Ben route had taken at 10km longer as the final total from the GPS was 61km not 54km (Navigational issues and the extra km or so from starting at Blair)
Nah I've still not sorted out the API key.
|My Bike||Jim's Bike|