Ayr Burners Cycling

Sportive, Cyclocross, Youth, Adventure

Ardnamurchan Gravel Weekend

August was a busy month for Burners activities and it kicked off with a trip to Ardnamurchan for a weekend of rides on new roads, with a 14 mile gravel section along Loch Shiel one of the highlights.

Over 20 Burners (and friends) made the long journey north to our accommodation at the Ariundle Centre on the outer edge of Strontian city centre …

First up was a warm-up ride heading south, before picking up the road to Lochaline and heading back to Strontian. Warm-up is the perfect description as there were several hills on the route to get us up to speed. Like so much of the weekend, the views were spectacular (even if the road surfaces weren’t !!!).

The food served at the centre was excellent, so we didn’t have to travel for anything. Just as well, as the weather was pretty sketchy apart from when we were on our bikes, which makes a change.

The next day dawned wet and misty but was dry by the time we were due to set off, and stayed like that for the rest of the day. Straight from the bunkhouse we were straight onto Polloch Hill, which climbs to 1167 feet in about 2.5 miles. You could tell from the smiling faces how much everyone enjoyed it !!! Strangely the downhill on the other side wasn’t half as much fun. A wet surface, 20% slopes, wet mossy roads and blind bends do not make for a relaxing descent. We all made it down in one piece though, and were straight onto the gravel section. That was tough going in places, especially for Paul S who had enough punctures to last a year. Once that was over there were no further mechanical issues of note.

Lunch was sourced at the cafe in the car park at the Glenfinnan monument, before we headed back towards Fort William before turning off to follow the road down the west side of Loch Linnhe. This was gently undulating, with only one major hill towards the end. That was quite tough after a long day in the saddle, but it was mainly downhill from there back to the Bothy Bar in Strontian, where we enjoyed a couple of beers outside in the sunshine.
That wasn’t the end of the fun though as, after another good night in the Ariundle Centre, we packed up on Sunday morning and drove to Ballachulish. The cars were dumped in the Co-op carpark and we set off for a loop round to Kinlochleven from the Glencoe end. This isn’t a big ride (20/21 miles), but it was another highlight of the weekend.
We came back down the north side of the loch, over the Ballachulish Bridge and back to the car park to load up and head home. It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend with lots of memorable moments, and everyone had a great time. It’s a spectacular part of the country and well worth a look – and some of the road surfaces remind us of home !!!

Donald Laurie • September 3, 2022

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