Video: Hannah Barnes - Northwest: A Scottish Adventure

Dec 12, 2013 at 0:09
Dec 12, 2013
by Matt Wragg  
 
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Hannah Barnes - NORTH WEST: Hannah Barnes goes on an epic adventure up the West Coast of Scotland, taking in the most incredible scenery, beaches and trails Scotland has to offer. The Cut Media guys went along for the trip to shoot an incredible documentary on the whole thing!

Words by Hannah Barnes, photography by Andy McCandlish



I've lived in Fort William from the age of seven, and my brother Joe from five. My family moved up from the English Lake District to be near to the sea for sailing, bigger mountains to explore and a more relaxed vibe with fewer people. Apart from a few years away at University, Fort William has always been home. It's an awesome place to live, and I love coming back after trips away. Travelling every year to lots of new and exciting places for racing, riding and other adventures is a fantastic way to live life and see the World. It's also made me really appreciate being at home and the quality of life Scotland has to offer.

I decided that as I spend a large proportion of the year racing and travelling, I wanted to explore what was on my doorstep. Growing up we explored the West Coast a lot as a family, going sailing on every family holiday around the islands. When I was 15 a friend and I sailed on a creaky old wooden boat from Fort William up to the Lofoten Islands in the North of Norway (I can't believe my parents let me!!). I don't think I'll ever turn down the prospect of an adventure! That was a long time ago, and long before I started riding bikes. I decided it was about time I headed North on an adventure with my bike! Finishing the trip at the most Northern point of Scotland, Cape Wrath, seemed like a fitting place to end the journey, and getting there would cover all the remote and wild places I've always been keen to ride and explore.

After chatting over some ideas with Stu Thomson from Cut Media, we thought it would be cool to document the trip and make a film about it. We wanted to show the personal journey, the mountain biking, Scotland and what an awesome a place it is! To do it properly we needed a good team of friends, and a camper van! Our crew consisted of Stu as filmer/director, Stu's brother-in-law Lec Park was our RC helicopter pilot, Dave Mackison as filmer and camper-van driver, and Andy McCandlish as photographer. We were all already really good friends, so it was awesome to be able to do such a cool trip with this crew of talented peeps! Gradually a plan came together, and we got to work devising the route and the logistics of filming it. I was to ride the 'Cape Wrath Trail' a walking route from Fort William all the way North to Cape Wrath. The route is 250 miles long, so we had to figure out the logistics of covering the ground in the best way possible, so that I could ride as much single track as possible in the week we had to do it.

Day One: Fort William - Glenfinnan - A'Chuil Bothy
I headed from home with my bike and bag and jumped on the tiny passenger ferry from Fort William to the other side of Loch Linnhe. From here I set off riding and my journey began! I met the guys in Glenfinnan, had some tea and food and set off up the Glen and over towards A'Chuil bothy. The old guy in charge of Glenfinnan Estate said we weren't allowed to film, and we better watch out because he had a rifle and wasn't afraid to use it! Charming!

The fast and gradually climbing fire road quickly became very overgrown and turned into a largely nondescript 'trail'. At the top there was a random abandoned gate, so that was vaguely reassuring. I stupidly only took cereal bars with me, so I was obviously already starving! The trail wasn't very apparent, there were sheep tracks though so I followed those down into the valley, then followed the river to eventually see a road and what must be the track to the bothy. I got stuck in some deep bogs away from anything which looked like solid ground, which was slightly scary! If I started properly sinking I planned to lie my bike down flat and stand on it like it was an island. I luckily didn't need to test my theory.
It was great to reach the bothy just as it was getting dark, and get inside away from the blood sucking midges! The boys had got a bit worried as I'd been gone for hours. We were all absolutely starving, and I couldn't wait for some food. Dave had kindly made some pasta, but as we didn't have a sieve, and instead of using the pan lid, he'd left it in the water and just added some sauce, so it was now a congealed mess. It was pretty funny, and we ate what we could stomach! All the wood outside was soaked through, so Lec started a fire using the ink from a set of Sharpie pens. Quite an expensive way of doing it, but they are evidently extremely combustable and it got us a roaring fire!

Bothy Life: Planning for the route for the next day in A'Chuil Bothy

Andy knew the areas we were riding and travelling through pretty well, so it was great to have his sound advice to influence route choice. As Day One had taken so much longer than we had expected, with the heavily soaked ground due to all the rain we'd had, and a distinct lack of trail ahead, we decided that the next day we would miss out the next long boggy section and drive to Sheil Bridge and set off riding from there and hopefully find some sweet single track!

Day Two: Glen Pean Bothy - Lochcarron
Stu came with me on day two, for some company and also to try and film some of the days adventures. I was really pleased he did, as it was another really long ride in not very nice weather, and the last part of the trail was so sketchy and hard to find. Reaching the Falls of Glomach was awesome, such an incredible and beautiful waterfall which I didn't even know existed before going there. The trail from there was pretty hard to find and was so sketchy, traversing the side of the valley, it was hard to believe that was actually the trail. It was as it turned out, and we made it to the bottom alive!

Hiking around Falls of Glomach

Heading over to meet the guys, back to the camper and stay in Lochcarron for the night we were absolutely soaked, and I could see me quickly running out of clothes on the trip. Dave and Lec weren't complaining however, while we were riding they'd spent an enjoyable day in the camper drinking tea and vandalising a page 3 girl with shaving foam. We used the shower room of the camper van as a bit of a drying room for wet and muddy clothes, which realistically had no chance of drying. The rain that evening was unrelenting, and it was a fairly wild night! We decided to head to the local pub for some hot food and some warmth. The landlord was a fairly eccentric character, his two manic black labradors sprinting up and down chasing their frisbees in the pub gave us some entertainment. After a good meal and a few barely palatable whisky's from the Landlord (I hate the stuff and would far rather some tea, so Andy was quick to offer to finish mine), the boys persuaded me to get my fiddle out and play a few tunes. It would have been awesome to have some others to play tunes with, you can't beat a good session!

Day Three: Loch Carron - Loch Ewe
My good friend Rachael Walker arrived first thing in the morning to share the day's adventure with me. It was awesome to have Rach along, a great riding buddy and nice to have some lovely girly chats to break up camper van life with four guys! It was a beautiful sunny day, and we were riding awesome singletrack through the famous Torridon mountains. After the last couple of wet and muddy days, it was great to have some sun and nice trails! On a relatively simple navigational route, we somehow managed to take a wrong turn. If I remember rightly, we were chatting about boys and baking cakes. We unnecessarily pushed and carried our bikes up to a saddle between two mountains, realised our error, then went off-piste to try and find the trail again. We were soon back on awesome singletrack and riding down to Loch Torridon with huge grins on our faces. We met the guys, had a quick bite to eat then finished the day with an epic night ride as we had been aiming to finish the day in Loch Ewe and were a bit behind schedule.

The evening midges were horrendous, and we couldn't stop or we got eaten alive! By then, we didn't want to ever look at another cereal bar ever again we had eaten so many! It was a lovely evening though, riding along the edge of Loch Maree as the sun set and a beautiful rainbow came out, it felt like we really were in the middle of nowhere. We arrived in darkness a couple of hours later, soaking wet, exhausted and hungry. It was such an amazing day, and we were ready to eat as much as we could and go straight to sleep.

Day Four: Loch Ewe to Durness
We woke up to a beautiful sunrise and spectacular sunny views out to sea. We had heard that there was no real trail or nice single track from where we were, so we headed in the Camper to Arvreck. There was a really cool old ruined castle there, and hopefully a trail! Today I was back riding on my own again as Rachael had to head south to do a DH race. There was no trail… just an open hillside where the trail supposedly was. We headed in the camper to Loch Glen Dubh, and I picked up the trail from there. It was really fun heading off along a trail, with no real idea of what to expect. A single dotted line on the OS map was anything from a desolate hillside to a forest track. That was all part of the adventure, up in the mountains with just my bike, a map, and a few food and bike supplies.

We arrived at the sea and a beautiful long golden beach on a sunny evening which was awesome, definitely a highlight of the trip. Finishing the ride with a swim in the sea was the business. What wasn't the business was going into the sea a second time because the Go-Pro was strapped to the Heli backwards, it was bloody freezing! The guys stood a safe distance away on the beach in their nice warm jackets. It was so refreshing, but not so good for my already bad cold! It was such a full on trip, with not enough sleep and proper food, with long days out riding, so I was getting pretty run down and having lots of cold medicine. I wasn't complaining though, it was awesome and we were certainly packing it in!

That evening we arrived at Durness and parked the camper up on the cliff edge, with a spectacular view of the beach and the rough and wild sea. It was the first time during the trip we all got to have a shower, the best feeling ever after four days of riding! It was so much fun hanging out with Dave, Lec, Stu and Andy… the banter was in full swing and I didn't stop laughing the entire trip (other than when I was by myself at the top of a mountain, cold and hungry). That night we made a fire on the beach, had some beers and chilled out by the fire. Awesome!

Day Five: Durness to Cape Wrath
Andy had had to leave the evening before, it was sad times to see him drive off and break up the dream team. We had to complete the trip and do the last day without him. That morning I jumped on the small passenger ferry over to the other side, and the road to the Cape Wrath light house. Only the mini bus taking people to the light house is allowed on the road, no other cars which is cool. The bus goes so slowly, it's actually about the same speed to ride there. It's a very barren and desolate place, beautiful and wild and it definitely felt like the edge of the world as I was riding towards the lighthouse, with vast views out to sea. There were big craters everywhere from Military bomb training, which was quite surreal. Arriving there was awesome… perfect blue skies, the tallest cliffs in Britain, endless sea and a huge lighthouse. We were all really happy to have made it, after an exhausting and incredible week!

On the bus back to the boat, we met a Scotty dog from Germany who's owners had brought him all the way to Cape Wrath to show him his homeland. The journey took forever, the driver was really strange and kept stopping to chat and tell various stories every two minutes. It didn't help that Dave kept asking him questions. The tide had gone right out when we got to the boat, and we nearly didn't make it back, the boat was skimming the bottom and we had to jump out onto a sandbank before we got to the slipway! We had an outburst of high fives and hugs, then loaded up the camper van ready for the long truck home. I think we'll have all slept pretty well that night! Smile

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported the making of this film! Thanks to the Cut Media guys Stu, Lec and Dave for all their hard work and Andy for the support and amazing images. It was an incredible week to remember!

Kinlochbervie


Stu Thomson http://www.cutmedia.com
Hannah Barnes http://www.hannahbarnes.co.uk
Orange Mountain Bikes http://www.orangemountainbikes.co.uk
The Outdoor Capital of the UK http://www.orangemountainbikes.co.uk
Visit Scotland http://www.visitscotland.com

Must Read This Week









68 Comments

  • + 52
 Lets Keep It Classy Pinkbike with the comments
  • + 14
 i always feel sorry for Joe if he ever reads the comments
  • + 2
 Ahaha does anybody know what head lamps/lights they were using? Or any quality ones that would be good for a pitch black night ride? Thanks
  • + 4
 Use Magicshine Fatboy Smile
  • - 2
 WHERED MY COMMENT GO
  • + 7
 there is no comments unclassy here compared to this: www.pinkbike.com/photo/7931655
  • + 1
 ^dont know whether to prop you, or down prop because of content.
  • + 5
 Then what's with the bikini shot?
  • + 2
 Skateboard videos, bikini shots? I'm confused? This a mtn bike site? And don't you dare delete my post.
  • + 1
 Hope R4 I think
  • + 1
 where did my comment go too.
  • + 1
 Hope R4 100% sure
[Reply]
  • + 19
 im single...
  • + 5
 haha, and you like orange juice?
  • - 10
 + 34
lennoxrider (11 hours ago)
Lets Keep It Classy Pinkbike with the comments
[Reply]
  • + 12
 I love Hannah's videos, they are always great. There are always a ton of edits for my 13 and 8 year old sons to watch and be inspired by, occasionally we even run into some of the guys from the videos on our local trails and they are always really cool with the kids, plenty of guys for the boys to look up to. My 10 year old daughter on the other hand never meets pro women and there aren't as many videos for her to watch, so when one like this comes along, she sits down with dad and we watch it together. Hannah has become one of her heros! Thanks Hannah!
[Reply]
  • + 14
 I fell in love... Smile What a beauty! (both Scottish landscape and Hannah)
  • - 8
 + 34
lennoxrider (11 hours ago)
Lets Keep It Classy Pinkbike with the comments
  • + 6
 I don't see anything wrong on giving a compliment to nice and sympathetic young woman using an exaggeration. As you can see I have appreciated wonderful sceneries as well. Your spamming is quite lame.
  • + 2
 I feel the same way. I copied lennoxrider's comment and did a cut and paste because it's BS. Check it out his comment is the first one posted on this thread. I think he/ she is an administrator. I Have had my comments removed because of the PB forum police which I think goes against the freedom of speech on thus site. I can see if people were being derogatory then it would be deleted but I did not say anything bad. I call bull $hit!!
  • + 2
 I think everybody read lennoxtider's comment, so it's not necessary to copy that. That was my point, I didn't want to offend you anyhow. Smile
[Reply]
  • + 11
 That was AWESOME! One of the Best ride documentaries I've ever seen! Great Job! I can't wait to ride a bike in Scotland! Fantastic job!
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Brilliant! Adventures are about getting off track, finding your way back, miserable climbs with rich rewards of down hill trails with scenic vistas. Frustration, pain mixed with elation and hi fives at the end of the trail. Thank you for sharing this epic adventure of Scotland.
  • + 3
 I'm not going to bother thinking of anything else and when anyone asks me aobout the perfect mtb adventure trip I'm just going to quote you.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Nice video makes me want to do some more riding in scotland.

Its fair to say I came for the pretty girl almost as much as the UK scenery but stayed tuned because of the quality video, had a great feel through out and really made me want to get out on my bike and have a Scottish adventure.

[Your sponsors should be very happy with you all!]
[Reply]
  • + 5
 thats an inspiration to get out and ride your bike. great trails. amazing scenary, good friends and for scotland good weather to lol. shame about the midges. i love getting my bike up there but never done any of those.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Well i guess i gotta ride in Scotland on a Kona 153... my dreams keep getting more pricey as this particular Thursday continues.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Those are some MASSIVE days Hannah and co have put in! Complete admiration for what they did - roll on spring and longer days! Can't wait!
  • + 1
 Awesome video, really well done, good riding Hanna and Co !
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Very nice peaceful riding to end the year, excellente music, very very good filming and on top of that a beautiful girl. No need for more Cheers
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Dang! Reeling on the violin in the pub, riding and having a proper adventure right across Scotland. Why cant there be more girls like Hannah out there. Brilliant work, talent all round. A proper decent video with good music and real world trails. Absolutely my cup of tea. And folks ; Lang may yer lum reek!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I really enjoyed this! I first ride up the west coast in the late 80s and was awestruck, I've been planning a trip up with my youngest lad for 2014, we'll be on our tandem with a trailer, we can manage a bit of trail riding with the right tyres. Sadly we won't have his pipes and my fiddle but he carries a whistle when we are traveling and we have started to video some of our journeys too, so lots of inspiration here! Thanks guys
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Scotland is such a beautiful country, only ridden Dunkeld before now, and after watching I'm going to have to get my lazy welsh arse up there.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Awesome video. They will remember that ride for the rest of their lives. I love Scotland, but the midges are a nightmare.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 no choice, need to mary her... ASAP !!!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 The tagline of this article is about to get sued by specialized.
  • + 3
 You're going to get sued by Specialized by saying Specialized in your comment. Oh crap, now I've done it!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 What an epic adventure! I felt like I was along for the ride... then the video ended, I realized I am in Orlando, and it's dark out. I need another video, Hannah.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 First time I have been homesick in the 4 years I have been away. Alba gu brath :')
[Reply]
  • + 2
 So nice and calm doc... ride you bike.
Orange must be proud of this ambassador.
Freckles, mud and smile helps.... Wink
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Great film! Great smile!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 If Hannah and Matt Hunter had a kid...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great inspiration to us all, just get out and ride, cant wait till July 14 to do my highland tour !!!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Queen of the north !
[Reply]
  • + 2
 That was awesome Hannah! Great riding and great views.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Late to work by 26 odd minutes....
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Absolutely brilliant! Gotta make my way over to Scotland! Thanks Hannah and crew and PB for a great video.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Such a great video. Very jealous. A great adventure with a great girl. Well done all. More please.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice job, Hannah! It was great meeting you in Italy!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 going to go to scotland cos weather, midges,dangerous bogs..
[Reply]
  • + 1
 now am thinking MTB tent sleeping bag fishing rod
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Enchanting land. Enchanting young lady.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I love the chill music, chill riding, and rugged adventure. Inspiring.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Smoking hot....
  • - 6
 + 34
lennoxrider (11 hours ago)
Lets Keep It Classy Pinkbike with the comments
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Forever smiling. What a star.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Simply magnificent.
[Reply]
  • - 2
 It confuses the fuck out of me that she doesn't have a Scottish accent!!
  • + 1
 She's posh scottish, their accent ins't as strong!
  • + 1
 But Joe has an accent.
  • + 1
 You can sometimes pick it up very faintly at times Matt.
  • + 5
 Erm ... because she's from England?
[Reply]
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