Alright, where to start… If cross-country mountain biking is your thing and you find yourself nearby Fort William then this 65km long route is a must! However, I’d recommend doing it in the warmer months as you’ll be wet most of the time from your waist down – there are countless streams to cross riding and one river to dip into with your bike on your back. Just find a shallow point and prey for a good balance! I bet you’ll decide to keep your shoes on, as they’ll be totally drenched by that time anyway.
All in all, at the time of writing this blog post (it’s my b’day today btw), it’s probably the best mountain bike route in Scotland I’ve done so far. I only cycled this route yesterday so it still sits very freshly in my memory.
This mountain bike adventure starts in Fort William. If you want to save some money for the parking here’s a tip – park by 3 Wise Monkeys Climbing Centre. It also saves you a little climb as from the town-centre of Fort William you’d have to go up anyway.
It takes just a short ride to join Old Military Road that you’ll follow all the way till its end above Kinlochleven. The scenery will be amazing from the first kilometre – Ben Nevis peeking out on your left and numerous snowy peaks on your right.
After about 23km, countless stream crossings and gaining a fair bit of altitude you finally arrive to Loch Eilde where things go flat for a while. The amazing feeling of remoteness around there is enhanced by the fact there’s no mobile reception. The next 8km will be rather wet as there are many streams coming from the peaks on your left to the loch. Eventually you’ll arrive to Abhainn Rath, the river I spoke about earlier that needs to be crossed by foot. Just find a shallow point and go for it!
Now there’s just about 2.5km between you and the highest point of this ride where the long descend back to Fort William starts. The bad news is that you’ll probably end up pushing your bike up for most of that distance… It’s a narrow single track full of big stones with some rather boggy bits. But there’s good news too! You’ll get to ride the same terrain down on the other side… It’s probably the most technical bit of this route but unfortunately it’s not very long, as you’ll join a wider path quite soon.
After a while you’ll find yourself by a cosy bothy, which is a good resting spot. The rest of the route is quite straightforward and took me less than 2 hours to finish. The long descend is really well deserved after so much climbing!
The last part of the route offers a little highlight – it takes you through Nevis Range and its Witch’s Trails! If you have any energy left to have some fun in a great mountain bike trail centre go for it!
I hope you’ll have a smashing day out riding! This mtb loop around Ben Nevis is probably one of the best routes Lochaber can offer. Please feel free to download the GPX track by clicking on the “Download” button below the map.