Ardgarten via lochgoilhead and rest and be thankful

I have done this route loads of times in all seasons, and i thought it may appeal to mountain bikers looking for an easy to follow route with good views, big climbs, and long fast decents…..so please excuse me if you have already ridden this circuit.

Start from Ardgarten Visitor Centre. The centre is open April to October and has toilets and a small shop selling maps and food. You can pick up a route map and guide for the route if they are open….but forget it if you are an early bird like i am….as i have never seen it open early in the morning.The road heading south gives glorious views down Loch Long, but the first of the 1000ft/300m climbs starts quickly with many undulations…and it never seems to gain height for ages..but later on it points upwards in earnest, and its with some relief you come to the lochan in the gap in the trees on your right hand side.

stop following the road and turn right to follow the Duke’s Pass. This track winds it’s way through the saddle of two peaks and offers a different landscape to ride through. Be prepared to grind your way up a series of loose, steep climbs….with one in particular needing a gritted teeth approach and commitment to get up in a “wanner”……and soon enough you top out above the watershed. The long downhill starts now…so be prepared to choose your lines, and keep an eye out for the greasy outer sections of the narrow-ish trail…which funnily enough, doesn’t appear to see much traffic…..anyhow, its fast and steep in some sections, and a series of whoops, dips, and turns finally spits you out at a small traffic calming gate, and then the junction at the fireroad, where you turn right and traverse the hillside until you come to a locked farmers gate….then follow the signs for lochgoilhead which you can see below you now.

Now i prefer a stop at the pub/hotel…as there is a buxom polish barmaid there, and i can hardly eat my soup for ogling , but for people who dont prefer distractions, There is a shop with outdoor tables so plenty of oppurtunity to rest weary legs, chase pesky seagulls, or fill empty bellies.

The second leg sees you cycling out of town on the quiet main road for a mile or two until you have to turn right into the forest and begin the 1000ft/300m…..take heart in the fact that the bottom section is the steepest, and the angle keeps easing the further you climb, and when clear of the trees, the scenery and the view down to the winding road far below you, keeps your mind occupied and your wheels turning. When the Rest and Be Thankful carpark becomes visible, turn right and follow the trail down to the right (very fast)…..but dont turn off left too early or you will end up down at the main road. Although it is huge fun to just bomb down the hill, there a few sections were the trees break giving the most stunning views imaginable. Be wary of walkers as there are a number of trails leading of the main track to the summits of various peaks in the area,( the brack in particular) they may just force an emergency brake on your part!
On returning to the car park, there are toilets you can change in if you are soaked to the skin like i always am on this ride.

A few pics of my recent rides.

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