Up the Loch Choire track by mountain bike. Anyone done this?
If so, is it sinuous single track delight?
or unrideable axle deep mud and rock gardens..?
I cannot reply to your question, but have to say that a return to the Crask Inn is a good idea.
We once returned to the Inn after a totally soaking day on that hill, with the last bit of the peak, a wet, but hard ice. It was a Sunday in winter, and from the outside, the hostelry appeared closed, but it was actually open, and strangely, most of the clientele inside were middle-aged, and upward, happy Frenchmen! A good place to refresh before heading back.
> or unrideable axle deep mud
Mostly this. I would maybe ride it from East to West as part of a tour after a drought but going the other way as a means to access Ben Klibreck would be a waste of time and much quicker on foot.
> I cannot reply to your question, but have to say that a return to the Crask Inn is a good idea.
The Crask is under new management and while it hasn't lost all its charm it has sadly lost a fair chunk of it.
I recently did it at the back end of a very long dry spell as part of the great north trail (and subsequently walked up Ben Klibreck from the normal layby a few days later).
Not much in the way of rock gardens, lots in the way of bog with barely rideably ruts. It took me 3 hours to cover 6 miles from the end of Loch Choire, over the pass and down to the Crask Inn, the bit between Loch Choire and the pass is littered with boulders the size of 2 stacked car tyres which have clearly fallen off the band of rock above them.
> Mostly this. I would maybe ride it from East to West as part of a tour after a drought but going the other way as a means to access Ben Klibreck would be a waste of time and much quicker on foot.
I agree with this statement
Yes, full of French when I was last there too. They were there to shoot Woodcock.
They were all of the view that whilst France was bigger and less populated than Scotland they just didn't have the wide open country that Northern Scotland has, but instead a house in every corner.
They'd also brought along their own wine iirc
Thank everyone! Ok, no bikes and standard route through the bog from the A836 it is then…
and call in at the Crask afterwards
After you've been, you'll have to tell us what the state of play the Crask Inn is in. Hopefully still good.
> After you've been, you'll have to tell us what the state of play the Crask Inn is in. Hopefully still good.
It was gifted to the Scottish Episcopal Church by the previous owners with some kind of agreement that it be run as an inn but also as a place of worship. The guy who was running it was a nice bloke and trying his best but it really wasn't the same experience. It's the nature of what it is now but I found the religious part too prominent for my liking when all I was looking for was a meal and a couple of pints. I haven't been in for a few years so things might have changed again.
As an alternative biking in from the East Badanloch Lodge, dumping the bike midway along N shore of loch Choire for the return and walking to Belach Easach before ascending is very good.
Wide open views biking in, changing to the trench of Loch Choire, with fringing oak and Sandy beaches, good stalkers path to the Bealach. Followed by traversing the whole ridge with longer to appreciate the views and seeing into the corries.
Standard route in a boggy there and back bounce, but quick half day hill. From the east is further but better, one of my best winter walk days. I was lucky and got the light and the snow just right.
yes I have also done from the crask to the col…it’s shit, and would lead to self loathing unless you are an avid rough stuff biker, I’ve also done the standard route several times, of which the only good thing is the view from the top.
I enjoyed the experience enough to eat there for 2 nights. The couple running it are very friendly and have an exceptionally cute dog who will absolutely tart herself out for affection.
I stayed there a few weeks ago. It's still good. I think it's a bit unfair to compare directly to when Mike and Kai had it - no one could replicate that. It is still quirky, reasonably comfortable, remarkably reasonably priced, and still does good food. The church bit seems played down a bit currently I think for Covid reasons. I did find the "positive message" posters strewn around a bit odd.
Delayed trip report…
Despite driving past it repeatedly, we never did get into the Crask… the weather for the first half of the week was poor, Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck were muddy slogs in high winds and no visibility. Disappointing given what the views could have been, and too long on the hill to get to the Crask while it was open. A plan the next day to get a view by staying lower, on Ben Stack, was thwarted by even lower clouds and higher winds.
The weather the next day was even worse, so a quick mountain bike circuit near Lairg was the best we could do, and even that turned into a tiresome slog through glaur and then a hasty exit from some menacing cows. The wisdom of planning a week of hillwalking in mid October was certainly being questioned, and the board games that are always brought as a back up plan were actually put to use this time, along with the case of wine.
The planned highlight of the trip was Seana Bhraigh from Duag Bridge, mountain biking in to Coiremor bothy- this was thwarted by the mysterious failure of one of the bikes. I think this might have been divine intervention, as it was already mid afternoon, raining heavily, and we would have reached the river crossing further up Strathmulzie as it was getting dark, and probably found it uncrossable. Instead, we had a pleasant night in the Old Schoolhouse bothy- it’s got double glazing!- and set off unladen the next morning in much better weather.
The Freevater forest is amazing; it’s a long way in up Strathmulzie, but the views from the summit of Seana Bhraigh across Luchd coire to Creag an Duine are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen… to the west the Coigach and Assynt peaks line up like petrified dinosaurs, and way up north Klibreck was picked out by snow on its ridge.
the ride back to Duag bridge was just fantastic, swooping down the track with the river glistening in the afternoon sun. Some photos in my gallery; but they just can’t even begin to capture the sense of space and remoteness.
One of the best Munros. And a testament to travelling hopefully, it was worth the wait for that view…
> The Freevater forest is amazing; it’s a long way in up Strathmulzie, but the views from the summit of Seana Bhraigh across Luchd coire to Creag an Duine are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen… west the Coigach and Assynt peaks line up like petrified dinosaurs, and way up north Klibreck was picked out by snow on its ridge.
> the ride back to Duag bridge was just fantastic, swooping down the track with the river glistening in the afternoon sun. Some photos in my gallery; but they just can’t even begin to capture the sense of space and remoteness.
> One of the best Munros. And a testament to travelling hopefully, it was worth the wait for the view…
All of that I can agree with, and I thought that I would like to go back, and see if I could do some easier routes in winter conditions with any friends who would want to head into Loch Luchd Choire.
I went up the scrambly north ridge of Creag an Duine (East ridge of Seana Bhraigh) in snow conditions (not deep) from the shoulder of the ridge, with some thin ice on steep bits of slabby rock, with only my long walking axe. So I could be criticised for not having any crampons, yet it was not that cold on that day. Nevertheless if I had fallen, it would have been a difficult place to get out from. I doubt that I would have died in a fall, but could have broken an arm or similar. Despite a few moments thinking about this, and making every hand/foot placement count, I relished this way up the hill, and came out onto deeper snow. Then I got the views as you describe them. Just arresting, and worth the longer approach into a hill.
That was one of the best days of that trip, a couple of years ago, and the bike ride made it work all the better.
Thank you for your report. I'm sorry that the weather was playing against you. Maybe one day I'll meet you in that area... If I can get the work hours situation to improve somewhat, in the near future.
Considered the Creag an Duine ridge, but didn’t fancy the sound of it- my impression from description was that it’s easy but precarious scrabbling above the void- what was your experience?
I’ll definitely be back to that part of the world- the brief glimpses we got of Arkle and Foinaven looked spectacular, and there’s still Ben More Assynt and Conival to do… might see you up there one day…!
Getting down that blunt pinnacle is the trickiest bit. I managed it (17/4/84) but, well, just say I was happy to get on to the slopes of SB unscathed.
And revisit Ben Stack, the views are fantastic for so little effort.
Sounds like my reticence was well justified!
and, fantastic photo…
To be fair, it was the fresh snow that caused most of the difficulty - in dry conditions it would be no more than an awkward little scramble.
There's a short account of the trip at
Sorry, a wee bit off topic. The Crask Inn and its former owners are legendary. I spent the night before my last Munro in there as the only guest. I went back a couple of years later with Ana, my partner. Some memories:
- When I was there on my own I had a large plate with a piece of wild salmon. The bedroom felt like a granny's place that had not been renovated for 40 years. My sleep was as deep as it could be.
- The lady was wearing "jester pants" with a rhomboid pattern.
- The owner had a land rover with a broken suspension. He said that he needed a "fat bird" to sit next to him to keep it stable (zero PC points).
- We whispered "this is a time warp" to each other and soon after heard the folks on the next table whispering "time warp". It definately was like an 70s/80s museum and that was great about it.
People in some of the Scottish glens can be pretty eccentric in a good or bad way as they have little or no competition and can just be themselves. It seems to attract people from Yorkshire. Mrs W. in Torridon ("I do not have a double bedroom" when I wanted to go with my partner, having slept there in a double bed when I went on my own a year earlier), Jerry's infamous bunkhouse ("wet boots - 5 quid") near Achnashellach are other examples.
I’d be interested to read that- but the link is taking me to the photo gallery (though what a gallery! Stunning photos)
Ah, not to the shot of a snowy SB from behind the bothy? If the link does take you to it, there should be button somewhere ('i' maybe) which leads to the caption, an extended one in this case.
Ah, I didn’t realise if you clicked on the photo the report appeared. thanks, I love reading accounts of people’s experiences of mini expeditions in remote parts of the country- and reinforces my thoughts that skipping the scramble was a wise choice.
would rope + some gear have made any difference? Or was the scramble unprotectable?
and have you been to Glenbeg bothy recently? I have in mind to do the Beinn Dearg group from that side rather than inverlael, but believe it’s not maintained now?
> would rope + some gear have made any difference? Or was the scramble unprotectable?
It's a diagonal descent across downwards-sloping slabby rock ribs and vegetated ledges. Awkward rather than technical in summer, and must feel really insecure in snow.
Great photos Streap, nice seeing the photos of Croick church. My wife and I were married there.