This bikepacking adventure was born out of looking at the map and seeing what looks remote yet kind of flat for the bikes. It was also to tick off visiting another part of Scotland we had not been to before. A small further motivation to visit Loch Etive was to find the location of the James Bond’s house shown in the film Skyfall. We believe we found the spot but we had to use a lot of imagination to place the house in the location. Let’s just say there was a lot of digital editing that took place besides the digital house. The driveway to the house does not exist either. I can vouch the hills are authentic.
The distance there and back for the round trip looked to be well within our comfort zone with margin for walking if need be. The route on the map looked straightforward and easy. With half on the road and the rest 70% double track and 30% singletrack we were confident we would do the trip to the far end of Loch Etive in a few hours and relax. We were starting just after mid-day. As you will see we used our margin up and exceeded it. While the glen is one of the more beautiful places we have been to, it is remote, a dead end (if you do not want to use the ferry) and so not a frequently visited. There is the rub. Little used remote and maintained paths do not necessarily all align, but that is the attraction to being remote. The toughing adventures are the ones you tend to remember. The singletrack section was brutal. Not because it was super technical but because it was either just a trace, bog rock garden or push the bush.
Our research had found people saying the track was overgrown in places. This time they did not exaggerate.
Another challenge we did not realize until we reached our destination (read that as we were knackered and we just wanted to put up the tent) was where to pitch the tent. We knew we did not have a specific spot to stop so knew we would have to wing it. But what we did not expect was the lack of places to put a tent. We spent a good hour exploring trying to find flat ground not necessarily in the trees or long grass and ideally by fresh water. Still, when we did find a pitch we got a good one. This is the beauty in Scotland you can pick almost anywhere that takes your fancy. Only we were not alone. The highland cattle were not too amused at our pitch choice. We had pitched our tent on their walking route to their beach. They were not around when we were looking for the ideal pitch. There was evidence of recent cow poo but no cows so left it at that thinking the farmer had moved them on elsewhere. However, we later realized they had a very very large area to roam and they had just gone for a walk about elsewhere. A few hours later they came through. We almost made the choice to put up the tent on their beach. It was only because we did not have a stream for fresh water (the loch is a sea loch) nearby we did not. It is hard to imagine we very nearly shared the same bit of the beach with the coos (highland cows).
This trip was also the first real live test of a midge net canopy I had made for the tent. Midges are smaller than a mosquito and bite! I was pretty confident that I had created a working solution and we were not disappointed. We were able to enjoy the view, cook, eat and relax in peace.
If you want to see how I made the canopy clink here – https://youtu.be/yNB6oBdDXhw.
All in all, we found a place that was totally isolated only for the highland cows. The next morning we said goodbye to the cows. The day was looking to be a hot one compared to the day before. By the time we packed up at eight that morning the sun felt strong. We set off in a confident mood knowing what we had trekked through the day before. We started early confident we would return to Glencoe ski resort by early afternoon. Not too late to drive the two and half hours home. The brighter day also made for better photos and filming.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing this bikepacking trip with us. If you have any questions about our gear, Scotland or midges then place add them to the comments below.