Two Beinns: Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a’ Chaorainn

While we slept – or perhaps I should say while we tried to sleep, for sleep evaded me for much of the night – the wind howled. When we woke, it was still – almost eerily so. Others camped around Corrour Bothy were, for the most part, yet to surface.

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Conquering the Cairngorms’ Angels and Demons: Braeriach, The Angel’s Peak, Cairn Toul and The Devil’s Point

When it comes to planning a trip to the Cairngorms National Park, the biggest challenge is its size.

There’s a whopping 4,500sq kilometres of it. To put that into perspective for you, Greater London (i.e. the city proper, and all the suburbs that sit within the M25) is 1,583sq kilometres. Luxembourg, at 2,586sq kilometres, could almost fit into the Cairngorms National Park twice.

There’s so much to see, and that makes it hard to choose which parts to see and which to save for a subsequent trip. After much deliberation, we opted to spend the first half of our trip in the area around Cairn Gorm itself, and the latter half around Braemar.

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Snapshots of the Cairngorms National Park

If you’d asked me a couple of months ago to name my favourite national park, I’d probably have been torn between Snowdonia, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. But now?

I’d say the Cairngorms National Park, sans doute.

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Farewell Islands, Hello Highlands: Loch Ainort to Fort William, via Glenfinnan Viaduct

When we woke, it was blowing a gale. Packing the tent away proved somewhat challenging, as it felt as though at any moment the parts we hadn’t yet rolled up would take flight. On the plus side, the pesky midges had all been blown away.

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A Wheelie Good Day on the Magical Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is one of those rare places that’s as magical as everyone says it is. It’s stunning, dramatic, other-worldly. Skye is everything everyone says it is – and then some.

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Hebridean Way #4: Shawbost to the Butt of Lewis (and Back to Tarbert via Stornoway)

If you’re contemplating cycling the Hebridean Way from north to south, you’re either bonkers or caught between a rock and a hard place.

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Hebridean Way #3: Ardvourlie to Shawbost (Plus a Detour to Uig)

We woke to grey skies, a few droplets on the flysheet the only trace of the rain that had fallen overnight. Fog hung over the hills we’d crossed the previous evening. We ate a banana each, took the tent down, and hit the road.

Just up the road a small sign announced that we were now entering the Isle of Lewis. A light drizzle set in as we pedalled along Loch Seaforth. We’d gone from cycling in shorts and t-shirts and being roasted to a crisp by the sun to cycling in fleeces and coats and getting a free shower from the clouds in the space of twelve hours.

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Hebridean Way #2: Claddach Kirkibost to Ardvourlie

If I had to pick a favourite day on the Hebridean Way, this would probably be it. Why? We had glorious weather (always a plus), and some of the best views – of both beaches and mountains – from the saddle yet.

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Hebridean Way #1: Vatersay to Claddach Kirkibost

Created in 2016, the Hebridean Way traverses the length of the Outer Hebrides, all the way from Vatersay, in the south, to the Butt of Lewis, at the northern tip. In a nutshell, it’s:

10 ISLANDS. 6 CAUSEWAYS. 2 FERRIES. 1 EPIC ADVENTURE.

It’s 297km/185 miles of pristine beaches, rugged mountains and open moorland. In many ways, it’s the perfect introduction to bikepacking: a relatively modest distance; stunning scenery; and not too remote if things go pear-shaped.

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Cycling the Highlands and Islands: Fort William to Vatersay

We arrived on the outskirts of Fort William late the previous evening, the last flickers of daylight fading as we pitched the tent by Loch Linnhe. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that water plus woodland means only one thing: being eaten alive by midges in the summer months. And so it was here: the ferocious little blighters were out in force. We slathered ourselves in Smidge, and retreated into the tent as quickly as possible. Time to catch a few hours’ shut eye ahead of our first day in the saddle.

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