Destination: Golspie, Sutherland
Claiming the longest descent in the UK from the summit of Ben Bhraggie (1300ft to sea level) and the longest technical singletrack climb, the Highland Wildcat bike trails are in one of the remotest areas in Britain.
Scenically stunning, the trails, officially opened in 2006, are a community funded project and there are ambitious expansion plans for the future. For uncrowded quality riding with something for all abilities, a visit should definitely be on your mountain bike to-do list.
How to get there
From Inverness, keep heading north on the A9 for 50 miles to Golspie. Both the red and black trail start in the town centre.
For the blue go to the Highland Wildcat car park near Big Burn. Drive north out of Golspie and then turn sharp left up a tiny lane signed “Backies” under a railway bridge. Follow this to a car-park on your right.
Sat Nav: Golspie
Shops and toilets in Golspie.
The 6.5km blue trail starts off with a pleasant singletrack climb through woodland that joins you up with the red and black routes. More climbing then takes you out onto the open hillsides with stunning views out to sea. There are some fairly low key technical features such as some rock steps but these can easily be avoided. You can then extend the ride to the top of the Ben by following the double track road or keep following the blue and it’ll take you back down the way you came up. It’s a fun descent but watch out for riders coming the opposite way.
The 7.5km red trail climbs out of town and then hooks up with the blue. They part company on the forest road with the red plunging downhill and then the fun starts. Berms and jumps come one after another and, for a cross-country trail, they’re on the big side. There are plenty of rollable drops too but, hit them fast, and you’ll find the air whistling beneath your wheels. The trail ends with some pleasant natural feeling riding.
The 13.6km black is one of the hardest trails in the UK. It’ll test your full range of riding skills and fitness. Leaving the red, it takes you right to the top of the Ben, negotiating steps and highly technical climbing the whole way. Take a breather, admire the view and then knuckle down for the fast and airy descent. They are chicken runs for the big kickers and drops, You’ll be a long way from home, so don’t let machismo get the better of you.
Nearest bike shop
A long way south so bring your spares and tools.
Ballblair and Carbisdale (Kyle of Sutherland Trails) are about 23 miles to the west.
Highland Wildcat trails
Scotland Mountain Bike guide to Golspie