MOUNTAIN BIKING IN WEST AND NORTH WEST SCOTLAND
By Sean Benz
Published by Cicerone, 2016
Softback in pvc sleeve
224 including maps
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
Sean Benz’s guide to Mountain Biking in the West and North West of Scotland is a neat companion to its sibling, Peter Edward’s Mountain Biking in Southern and Central Scotland.
There are similarities. Both deal rapidly its trail centres and move on to day long tours using track and trail linked where necessity demands by sections of road. They both have detailed OS mapping - vital in the remote country this guide will take you into. Route description is the bulk of the text and there is, in both, lots of sensible advice. All the routes have been ridden on a variety of mountain bikes; hard-tail. full suspension, disc and see brakes and so on.
There are big differences in the geographical areas covered. In this guide the routes are distributed across the huge spread of the highlands of West and North West Scotland, with several grouped around Fort William, and run through the magnificent scenery of this peaceful wilderness. Even so, as the author points out, you will be passing through a fragile environment - a wilderness that we should leave as we found it.
Southern and Central Scotland has its wild places, but the West and north West many more. The sections on safety and equipment are particularly welcome; very sound, but avoiding the impression that anyone who sets out into the wilderness is asking for trouble. The message is, be prepared and be sensible.
There are no easy routes in this guide - most are hard or very hard. Expect to “carry” on most and be prepared for very rough stuff with steep descents and ascents. For me, these would be routes to take time on! Distance is not the best indication of how long one might take, so read the route description carefully. There is excellent detail of surface quality, technical sections and other aspects affecting how long you are likely to be. Weather is another variable - often highly variable.
The first route describes cycling along the West Highland Way from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William - return by train, if you wish. Apart from a further longitudinal outing from Aultguish to Ullapool the long way, the routes are circular and of a variety of lengths. Route profiles always seem to look peculiarly fierce - though not inaccurate.
With inspirational photographs, this is a really useful contribution to the growing range of guides to mountain biking with scenic quality in mind. Just don’t expect to reap the reward without a degree of proficiency, a good level of fitness, a bit of sensible preparation and this guide in your jersey pocket.
Update page for this guide www.cicerone.co.uk/746/updates
ALSO FROM CICERONE ..... PETER EDWARD'S MOUNTAIN BIKING IN SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL SCOTLAND.
REVIEW PUBLISHED JULY 2016