Bagging The Beast: An Teallach, Whisky and MTBs
Proper mountain biking on proper mountains. Scotland – often overlooked on the world mountain bike stage – is a playground of wilderness, drama and trails that will stay with you forever. IMB reunited two childhood mates and packed them off to explore and document the highlands in a trip that would culminate in the conquering of ‘The Beast’, the iconic mountain An Teallach. Richy Taylor and Charley Oldrid explain.
This trip was a long time coming. Two old university friends and ten years later.
As soon as the two words ‘bike’ and ‘Scotland’ were slurred together in a drunken conversation, the idea took care of itself and fruitioned into absolute perfection.
Before long we were trucking north towards the wonderful west coast.
For me, this trip had been festering in the pipeline for some time. Luckily Charley partially grew up in the highlands, herding reindeer with his family and friends in the Cairngorms from a young age, which inspired him to concentrate masses of his free time into exploring all the nooks and crannies of the highlands through walking, climbing and riding ever since. His knowledge of these vast lands are second to none.
The plan was to have no plan except head north with our bikes.
First stop, Glen Coe. Need I say anymore, that valley is spectacular. A geologist’s wet dream. What a spot to pitch a tent.
At 6am we pushed up the Devils Stair Case to be ensured no hillwalkers on the west highland way actually got in our way. A successful dawn raid on this classic walking path descent – thank you Scotland for your Right to Roam laws!
Onwards and northwards. Destination Applecross. Having not really biked that much together over the last decade, Charley’ s taken the path of bike guiding and I’ve taken the path of filming, but our psych to mash both disciplines together meant that we knew that we’d do something epic before the week was over.
We pitched a stunning little wild camp with the Scottish sun beating down and the views across to the Cuillans on the Isle of Skye were simply breath-taking. Surrounded by red deer and buzzing bees in the trees, this made for a good chilled afternoon and a relaxed evening ride. We found a cracking bit of scenic single track that was too picturesque not to film on. Charley was beginning to see how i work and i think he was beginning to enjoy razzing his hard tail full tilt for the camera. Even if he did feel like a performing monkey at times.
At sunset we returned to camp for dinner over the fire and a quick pedal to the pub to sink a few ales. The fact that we needed to recharge some batteries was a perfect excuse for the evening’s mischief. By the time morning rains came, a mighty plan had unhatched; let’s go north for fish n chips in Ullapool!
The fish supper went down a storm, as did a few more drams. A potential weather window the following day meant it was time for an adventure.
The words “An Teallach’ kept popping up (thanks to my mum of all people). After feasting my eyes on this beastly looking mountain in a book, I was sold on summiting this hill. It looked like it belonged in the Alps and Charley had some good knowledge of its complexities, so we were both keen as two tits in a tree. Some mountains get into your soul. It’s an iconic peak that towers an impressive 1062 metres above sea level and is a mountain that Scotland’s most famous mountain photographer Colin Prior talks about with great passion because of the unique Torridonian sandstone. This I had to see [and ride].
“A quick up and down and we’ll be back for dinner”.
Well not quite but sit back and enjoy our film. It’s a proper adventure in the Scottish Highlands and I can’t recommend enough for people to get up there and explore. Just respect the countryside and respect the locals’ way of life and you’ll have an incredible time.
Always be prepared for a proper day in the Scottish mountains and remember the 5 P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Scotland, you are epic for riding bikes!
Thank you Charley for your expertise and thank you to IMB for taking this story and running with it.
Until next time.
Featured in this Post