Coast to Coast – Fort William to Montrose
Myself and 4 friends did a Coast to Coast route from Fort William to Montrose over 4 days, 16th-19th June 2014. I posted this report back then but recently discovered that the photos weren’t attached anymore. I’ve redone the post with the photo’s back in and some of the info which is well out of date removed.
We followed the route from Phil McKane’s book, Scotland MountainBiking The Wild Trails. It’s a 190 mile route taking in the Great Glen Way, the Corrieyarick Pass, the Cairngorms and Mount Keen.
Day 1 – Fort William to Fort Augustus 33.7 miles Total Time 3hrs 25mins
We met at Waverly Train Station in Edinburgh to catch the train to Glasgow then onto Fort William. After a quick lunch in Fort William we set off up the Great Glen Way.
Great weather which stayed with us for most of the trip,
Heading up the Great Glen Way.
Really nice start to the trip heading up to Fort Augustus. We got there late afternoon and stayed at the Stravaigers Lodge Hostel.
Day 2 – Fort Augustus to Kincraig 45.9 miles Total Time 6hrs 55mins
After a big cooked breakfast in the hostel we set off around the bottom of Loch Ness before heading up to find the path for the Corrieyarick Pass.
After a tough climb over the Corrieyarick Pass there is a long descent which has loads of large drainage ditches which require either some big bunny-hops or serious braking. The route eventually reaches Laggan Wolftrax and we had to cycle along the A86 for a couple of kilometres before following quieter roads to join the Sustrans Cycle Route running parallel to the A9. We followed this through Newtonmore and Kingussie before passing Ruthven Barracks and taking a quiet road to Kincraig where we stayed.
Day 3 – Kincraig to Ballater 53.2 miles Total Time 8hrs 20mins
We left Kincraig and headed down to Feshiebridge where we took the path up Glen Feshie.
The Bridge over the Eidart Falls.
After the Eidart Falls the path became a lot more difficult to ride with a fair bit of pushing and lifting over some really rocky and boggy sections. There was about 10 kilometres of difficult going but eventually we reached a landrover track and got going at a decent pace again.
There were a few river crossings but thanks to the good weather we didn’t have any problems other than the odd wet foot. We came out of the Cairngorms at Linn of Dee and followed the road on the south side of the River Dee into Braemar.
We had to follow the main road for a few kilometres out of Braemar then a woodland trail lead us to Balmoral Castle. No Royals in residence so we were able to cycle through the grounds and then follow a quiet road to Ballater where we stayed in a Hostel.
Day 4 – Ballater to Montrose 56.8 miles Total Time 7hrs 15mins
After a big breakfast at a café in the town we set off and followed an easy flat trail to Dinnet before heading up to Glen Tanar and starting on the Mounth Road towards Mount Keen.
First glimpse of Mount Keen
There’s a substantial push or carry to get to the summit
Good feeling to get the last big climb of the trip done.
It’s a pretty wild descent off Mount Keen, long, steep, very rocky. Once in Glen Mark the path became a lot easier and headed down towards the road in Glen Esk.
Just before the village of Tarfside we were supposed to cross a bridge and head through the fields climbing between Cowie Hill and Garlet for the final off road section of the trip. Unfortunately the bridge had been barricaded at both sides as it’s now unsafe. Not sure if this is still the case now.
We had a quick look for another way over the river without any luck and as we still had a fair few miles to Montrose and a train to catch we decided to follow the road through Tarfside and down to Edzell, then the last few miles to Montrose.
We even had time for a couple of pints before our train back to Edinburgh arrived.
What a brilliant trip, we had a great time and it was made extra special by the amazing weather. The first afternoon was a really nice start and the three full days were all challenging with a good mix of terrain. If anyone else is looking at doing this route I hope you get as good weather as us.