Tonight was my night.
Back in the 80s when I started fishing I heard tell of an 8lb wild brown trout that had been caught in a small hill Loch quite a few miles from where I lived. With only a pushbike for transport I longed one day to catch a fish in that Loch but at my young age and the distance involved I was going to have to wait until I had a car and could drive. So roll on the 90s and I fished it a few times and swore there wasn’t a fish to be had in the Loch never so much as saw fin or even saw a natural rise. I believe after the 8lb fish had been caught the place had been mercilessly over fished and poached. And then in the early 2000s I gave up fishing.
Then a couple of years ago I saw this https://vimeo.com/290638774 my old fishing buddy is in the video and he caught a fish in the Loch I so desperately wanted to catch a fish from. I repeatedly watched the video, it stirred my emotions and triggered me to buy a new rod, start fly tying again and I swore I would catch one of those trout that eluded me as a youngster. Last season I started fishing again and then I went and crashed my motorbike and broke my shoulder. That took me out of action for 12 weeks last season. I did manage a few trips before the end of the season out but each visit to that bloody Loch drew a blank.
Raring to go this season and then lockdown struck before I could cast a fly, however with the recent relaxation to allow fishing I bought my permit and booked onto the Loch this evening, I now live within walking distance.
At the Loch air temp 6 degrees a howling cold wind coming in from the North sea, I was braced for yet another blank. But off I went anyway.
A few casts in and I see a swirl at my flies. It follows and makes a splash, I struck too fast and no contact was made so I quickly re cast to the same spot and my fly disappeared in an explosive take and my rod doubled as it took off into the deep. Heart pumping and reel singing I nervously coaxed the fish to the net, now this was no 8 pounder but still this was the fish of my boyhood dreams finally in the net. Just over 2lb in weight and full of sticklebacks and my childhood dream fulfilled, it was safely returned to fight and feed again.
Sorry for the long winded post but I just had to share 😂
This covid 19 malarkey and lockdown has been tough. What with still working and not being able to get out and about its been a struggle to stay sane without my usual hobbies. Needless to say the slight relaxation of the rules has been welcome as it has allowed me out fishing and I am lucky to have a river and several lochs literally a stones throw from my house. My first outing was to the river where I caught a lot of small brown trout. Great fun and all safely returned to the water, my next outing was a day on Bighouse Loch and after several hours of not seeing any sign of a fish I bent into a cracking fish
A belter of a trout see here for my Instagram post. Again this fish was safely returned to the Loch. Now I feel my sanity returning.
Have been away from the PC for a while and not put anything on here. My most recent misadventures on my bike involved a silly idea of entering the Dude Of Hazzard Enduro in Kinlochleven last year, Went down with a few of my buddies on the friday night and had a go at the practice on the saturday, Ended up biting off more than I could chew and found my self falling off left right and centre, By the end of the practice my legs arms chest were all battered and bruised and I could hardly grip my bars, I did however get down all the sections with no broken bones so I consider that a win 🙂 So waking up on the sunday the sensible side of me decided not to race, I would just of ended up breaking a bone or worse and probably be holding back the real racers… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzsMOfqDjdw I had a fantastic weekend at a very well organised event, Just a shame my skills were not up to bombing down the trails at speed.
Managed to get myself a GoPro camera so I took it Golspie with me and my mountain bike to have a play around with. Tried some different angles and found some worked better that others, Anyway enough talk and here is a couple of clips I cobbled together and posted to you tube
Then the crashes edit! Bruises have subsided now 🙂
And I used my normal camera on the tripod at the side of the track to capture this clip.
Just back from a short family trip to Coylumbridge near Aviemore. Managed to squeeze a lot in in the short space of time, The family tried Archery and Ski lessons at Loch Insh Some mountain biking and an excellent time at Rothiemurchus clambering around the trees at treezone.
We stayed in the Hilton which is an ideal location for families to stay to explore the Cairngorm area with lots of activities on site and nearby. A bit pricey and very busy but very handy for the kids.
First outing on the bike was to the spectacular Loch An Eilein with my eldest daughter who was thoroughly enjoying herself until she spotted the killer black slugs along the trail! This triggered much upset and involved tears and such like! Anyone have a cure for irrational fears??
Click Link for Endomondo Track
Another bit of bother on this cycle was my chain kept coming off and gears kept ghost shifting, It appears I had bent something falling off a log so I had to pop my bike into Bothy Bikes whilst I was at Treezone just accross the road to get fixed allowing me to get out again that afternoon for another ride.
I had intended to ride to the summit of Bynac More however due to time constraints I had to cut my journey short by a couple of miles. However it was still a very much worthwhile route Endomondo link
This is An Lochan Uaine which is along the route and the water is an amazing colour worthwhile stopping for a look on the way past. I managed to collect 6 punctures on this route and ran out of spare tubes and repair patches so I would recommend being fully prepared for any eventuality as you are venturing out into the mountains and far from civilization.
The Aviemore area is a fantastic destination for outdoor activities and we regulary visit. There is so much to do for all abilities and ages in the area that I think it is well worth a visit.
A page to catalouge some of my favourite Mountain Bike routes in Caithness.
Links to google maps provided.
Lime Kiln Loop Starting off in the village of Reay approx 11 miles of forestry road with a bit of overgrown rough track on the way back down. You can avoid the boggy rough bit by retracing you steps back to the bottom by always following the better condition track, However you will miss seeing the Lime Kiln if you do this.
Loch More Loop Park at the start of the forestry road and you can do a 16 mile loop via Altnabreac past Loch Dhu, Dalnawillan and then back to the start. All on forestry or estate roads with fairly gentle hills, Road surface is pretty good for most of the way.
Rumster Loop Short but fun loop round Rumster forest.
Holburn Head A short and fun route than can be completed from Thurso, Ideal if you dont want to be driving to go out on your bikes.
Broubster Forest Again a short section of forestry road, A selection of dead end roads to explore, If you keep turning left on the way in you will have a fairly steady uphill for most of the way but that means downhill on the way back and you can pick up quite a bit of speed.
Golspie Wildcat Trails (not strictly in Caithness!!!) Checkout www.highlandwildcat.com for more info.
This list will be updated as I explore more areas in and around the county of Caithness and surounding areas. If you have a favourite route drop me a comment and let me know about it .
Beware there may be a risk of ticks in some of these places! Give yourself a good check when you get home.
Posted in Blogroll, Mountain Bike, Uncategorized
Tagged Caithness, caithness mountain bike routes, Mountain Bike, Mountainbike, MTB, MTB Routes, North, Northern, Scotland, thurso
No pictures this time, Went for a paddle yesterday to a River I have never paddled before although I knew it had been paddled before it was a first for me. I was expecting a fairly difficult (for me) steep gorge and that is exactly what we found.
Unfortunately water was a bit low but we went out anyway to explore this river. It started off with a slow moving grade 1 bimble before it turned steeper and faster flowing. Although a bit of bump and scrape we could see the potential for fun with more water. After a few small rapids and a nice shute the river started to narrow as it approached a steep walled in gorge section. The entrance rapid to the narrow gorge was a double drop with a 90 degree bend at the bottom. The potential to get stuck half way down was obvious and quite difficult to protect properly with only the 2 of us paddling. A fairly quick decision was made to walk this one and wait for another day with a bigger team and slightly more water.
The next rapid in the gorge looked a bit more straight forward and after a few hums and haws it was decided to run it. Gavin made it down first and gave the signal for me to follow. On the entrance to the drop I hit a rock that knocked me offline causing me to miss the correct line into the next part of the rapid and caused me to drop off a ledge sideways instead of straight on. The bow of my boat hit the side of the gorge and turned me sideways promptly causing my stern to jam on a rock on the opposite side. I was well and truly pinned/broached at the bottom of the rapid. I sat for a few seconds as the water poured over my boat and I could feel my upstream edge dropping under the force of the water.
With that in mind and also the fact I was concerned about my boat folding on me I decided to swim out before I ended up in an even stickier situation. I shouted to Gavin who looked more worried than I felt that I was going to swim out. I popped my deck and the boat immediately filled and sunk deeper as I clambered out and swam bumped and bounced to the edge. The boat was now completely submerged and well and truly jammed, I am glad I was not still in the thing at this point. A bit of nifty rope work and a lot of hauling later my boat was free and making its way down stream to the eddy below. At one point I was thinking that I would be walking to the bottom and coming back another day in lower water to retrieve my boat. The hauling was made a bit more difficult due to the fact some of the rocks were covered in sheet ice and were treacherously slippy. Sometime in the whole procedings I sliced a small part of my thumbnail off and burst a few knuckles and gathered quite a few bumps on the swim out. Today I am sore and starting to realize how serious the whole escapade could of been. Maybe that was one rapid that should also have been saved for another day. I got back on and paddled the rest of the section without a problem although Gavin did mange to get stuck half way down one of the last rapids for a while. He managed to shuffle/push himself back into the flow and carry on to the bottom.
The last bit after we came out of the gorge was mainly a boulder garden with too many boulders and not enough water. 6 inches more water would of made the whole run a lot more fun.
Should I of walked that rapid and avoided the pin, should I of paddled the rapid?
I am not sure as I think I have learned a lesson from it. Would I paddle it again under the same circumstances I would say no. With more water and more paddlers the answer would be yes.
Due to the wonder of mobile technology I have been experimenting with an app for my phone called Endomondo http://www.endomondo.com/ . Basically you can use it as a multi sport gps tracker and you can upload your runs, cycles snowboarding etc to overlay a map along with speed lap times elevation etc. Not only do I find it interesting to see where I have been and how far and fast (slow) I have travelled. I have found it has encouraged me to go out and exercise more regulary which can only be a good thing.
What I have only just discovered today is that once uploaded to the endomondo website you can export your gps info to your PC. From there I have memory map software http://www.memory-map.co.uk/ where I can view the info overlay-ed on Ordnance Survey maps a fantastic albeit expensive piece of software. Worth every penny though in my opinion. Or the other option I discovered is that I can send the file to google maps
What I hope to do over time is compile a selection of my favourite mountain bike routes online so that I can share them with the world. I Have had some disasterous route due to following what looks like a track or path on a map only to find overgrown unpassable or treacherous places that I have not enjoyed. I have also found a lacking of info availible on the web for places to try so keep tuned in over the next while as I try to share some of my routes and a few notes of info about them.