We all love making plans of future bikepacking trips, don’t we? Back in October 2019, I set off with a plan of heading up to the Assynt which is in the far north of Scotland for a few days bikepacking. However, after 5 hours of driving, an engine warning light decided to throw those plans in the bin! Fast forward 2 1/2 years (thanks to Covid) and I found myself driving north once again (thankfully not in the same vehicle this time) but now with my eldest son Connor in tow. All being well he’s due to leave the family home for university in a few months’ time so this was going to be some quality time together.
I had a plan, I had several bothies on my radar and some pretty scenic places to visit following the 9 1/2 hour drive. However, with my son being with me, I wasn’t confident those plans would be sustained….
After parking up and strapping the bags to the Mukluk and Bucksaw we ventured off for a 7 mile ride to the Glendu bothy. Here in the UK, bothies are usually old farmhouses that have been made available for the general public to use and respect. You don’t book them, you simply turn up and you could have them to yourselves or you could be sharing with others.
The track to the bothy was great, a lovely double track that followed the edge of Loch Glendu in the far reaches of northern Scotland. Despite Connor not being a regular cyclist he coped well on the Bucksaw and savored the scenery just as much as myself.
We didn’t see anyone else during the hour’s ride into the bothy, there were some tracks in the mud which had me prepared for sharing the bothy with others.
The bothy itself sits alongside two other estate buildings which are kept locked and used by the workers of the land. Inside the bothy was basic, but clean, a few chairs, a table and two others who were solo walking in the area for a few days. The bothy itself is made up of two rooms on the ground floor and two up top. It was a clean but very basic bothy with just 4 chairs and a table. Fireplaces were in each of the ground floor rooms which were soon glowing as the weather outside took a turn for the worse with wind and rain hitting through the night.
We ended up having a good evening sharing and listening to stories from the two walkers.
After getting up at around 7am and making a coffee and porridge Connor was still asleep doing what teenagers love to do, sleep!
The wind had eased early morning which meant we could set off back to the car without a headwind. However there were several heavy downpours but the spirits were raised after finding an antler near the side of the track.
We returned safely back to the car and unloaded the bikes. It was at this point the plans were changed.
Instead of heading a little further north to a remote beach, we decided to play tourist in the car and have a chilled-out day taking in the scenery. We did have the intention of wild camping near one of the remote beaches but found out there was a nice quiet campsite not far away and they even had a bar!
Plans were well and truly getting changed by now as we headed south to the Cairngorms National Park. I popped in to see the ever-helpful Andy Toop at Backcountry Cycles in Aviemore. He gave me some fine advice to head to the bothy in Glen Fishie. He did say that the estate had spent £250,000 on it a couple of years ago! So we were thinking this bothy was going to be a special one.
The trail was fantastic as we made our way through the pine trees. The sky was blue and there was no wind, we were being blessed by the weather gods!
We arrived at the bothy just as 3 walkers did. The bothy itself was an absolute gem of a place. There were plenty of rooms for the 5 of us where again we spent another evening chatting about all things outdoors.
We spent the next day exploring some of the trails further up the glen before heading back home. We ended up driving 1080 miles and riding just 30 miles, but we both had the best time despite my plans not working out…but there’s always another trip to do.