Big Tree Customers have some Great Stories to Tell...
We’ve written before about this very very beautiful corner of Scotland, and the wonderful coastline of Arisaig is an area which does keep drawing us back for more Big Tree Campervan adventures. This weekend, tempted by the excellent weather forecast for the north west of Scotland, Ed and I headed out that way for a ‘Dad & Son Mountain Bike Adventure’.
We first paid a visit to Applecross (I’ll write about that in a separate blog), but then nipped over the bridge to Skye, and caught the last ferry from Armadale across to Mallaig – a beautiful crossing made even more fun by watching the porpoises playing in the ferry bow wave. It was early evening when we arrived in Arisaig at our friend’s Julie & Ian’s campsite, Sunnyside Croft. We’ve recommended Sunnyside Croft to loads of Big Tree Campervan customers over the past few years, mainly because we do think their site is one of the best run in Arisaig. It’s probably not the cheapest, but the again you get what you pay for… superb new facilities, an awesome welcome by people who really care about their customer service, a 2 minute walk to one of the loveliest beaches in Scotland, and a view out over Eigg and Mull to die for. For me, it’s worth every penny.
Ed and I spent a mellow evening cooking pasta, having a campfire on the beach, and then snuggling down to watch ‘The Italian Job’ on the DVD player. Nice.
Our plan for the next day was to take the bikes on the tiny ferry from Mallaig to the abandoned settlement of Tarbert which is opposite the remote wilderness of Knoydart. From there it’s one of Scotland’s best mountain bike rides back along the shores of Loch Morar, eventually returning to Mallaig. Only one problem…. the ferry doesn’t run on Saturdays. Doh! It turns out the ferry franchise has changed, and it’s now run by Sea Bridge Knoydart. Their website doesn’t have the up to date information on it just now (they only mention their service from Mallaig to Inverie in Knoydart), but they do run the service to Tarbert – best to ring Jon on 01687 462916 for details, and you’ll definitely need to ring him if you’re planning on bringing bikes with you… it is a very very small ferry!
Anyway, we went for ‘Plan B’ which was to drive out to Bracorine and then mountain bike as far as we could along the shores of Loch Morar before returning the same way. Well, what a beautiful ride! I would strongly recommend this to any competent mountain bike riders, and it’s some of the best single track which Ed and I have ever ridden in Scotland. The setting on the side of the loch is very beautiful, the track ride-able for all but a few short sections, with plenty of swooping downhills and absorbing technical sections, with the drop down into the loch quite daunting in places. The scenery though is simply stunning as you bike past abandoned crofts and wild wild countryside… overall a very very satisfying place to be.
Our adventure was cut short a wee but by Ed’s chain snapping twice, and then as we decided to turn back after about 2 ½ hrs riding, Ed crunched against a very large boulder and completely sheared his rear derailleur off! Oh. So… we had one totally unrideable bike, 2 ½ hrs from the car, in the middle of nowhere! Ed then came up with the brilliant suggestion of creating a ‘Mountain Bike Fixie’ – i.e. dismantling what was left of the rear derailleur, shortening the chain so the bike was in one single gear. Hey presto, 30 minutes later Ed was back in the saddle, albeit with quite a task to ride all the way back on some very technical ground in one gear. His little 12-year-old legs were pretty tired by the time we got back to the campervan at the road head!
A few hours later we were back home in Bankfoot (after a quick stop for fish & chips in Ft William), and then both of us off to an early bed after a superb day’s adventure. Nice!