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Bikemagic trail guide: Carbisdale, Sutherland, Scotland

11:30 17th October 2012 by Nikalas Cook
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Destination: Carbisdale, Sutherland

There are just two relatively short trails at Carbisdale, but in combination with nearby Balblair there’s a day’s riding in the area. It’s on the remote side, so crowds won’t be an issue.

How to get there

Take the A9 north from Inverness. After around 35 miles, turn left onto the A836, signed to Bonar Bridge.

Follow the road to the village of Culrain, and turn left just after the railway station, following signs for Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel.

Follow the signs into the youth hostel grounds and the trails begin from a small car park at the bottom of the drive.

Sat Nav: IV24 3DP

Facilities

At the youth hostel there are toilets and the Salvesen Cafe.

Carbisdale Youth Hostel is a mock castle built in 1906. It’s currently closed for refurbishment, while the SYHA restores it to its rightful state as the world’s grandest hostel! Image by Johnson Cameraface via Flickr.

Bonar Bridge and Ardgay have a selection of takeaways, cafes and pubs

Trails

The 3 km blue trail has a bit of something for everyone. It’s almost all singletrack, if relatively wide and on all-weather hard, stone based surface. There are slabs to roll over and rocks to jump off but all can be avoided making it suitable for all abilities. It’s one of those perfect blue trails that’s great to ride fast for more advanced riders but also easily rideable for novices.

The 4.5 km red trail is easy for the grade and, if you normally tend to stick to blues, this is the perfect step-up. It’s an extension of the blue with narrower singletrack and some rougher surfaces but nothing too tricky. It adds some more climbing and descending and the view overlooking the lochan is worth pausing for.

In the hills above the castle. Image by Simon Varwell via Flickr.

Nearest bike shop

Nowhere nearby so pick up supplies en route.

Other info

With Balblair, Carbisdale forms the Kyle of Sutherland Trails and you can easily bike between the two following the railway line.

Useful sites

Kyle of Sutherland Mountain Bike Trails at the Forestry Commission
Carbisdale trail map (pdf)
Scotland Mountain Bike Guide to Carbisdale

It’s a quiet area, but look out for the odd walker. Image by Julia L via Flickr.

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