The Highland Trail is a long distance self-supported mountain bike time-trail route through the Scottish Highlands. For 2014 the distance is increased from 430 miles to 560 miles with the addition of a loop further north into Assynt. There is no entry fee, no prize money, and definitely no support. It is a self-timed Individual Time Trial (ITT). All that is provided is inspiration, a suggested start time, a GPS track file, and a list of completion times. Riders are limited to 40 for the suggested start time.
You may experience Scotland's beautiful sunny blue skies and cool mountain streams and lochs as far as you can see! But, be warned, the weather in Scotland can change on a whim, and you may be just as likely find yourself getting besieged by cold lashing rain and high winds. In short, don't attempt this ride unprepared - no one will be there to rescue you! Approach the ride as though you are on an independent expedition, fully prepared for your own limitations and whatever nature has in store for you.
Complete the entire route, under your own power - no drafting
Be completely self-supported throughout the ride - absolutely no support crews, absolutely no gear sharing
Only use commercial services that are available to all challengers - no private resupply, no private lodging
If you have to leave the route, you must rejoin it at the exactly same spot
No caches of any kind
No pre-arranged support, which means before you begin your ride - e.g. booking a B&B, arranging to meet a vehicle
No travel by any motorized means during your ride - by all means do so if necessary, but understand if you do your attempt is over
Gear - nothing required, nothing prohibited
NOTE: A time trial completed with friends, family or media following the ride, effectively acting as a sag-wagon, is not a true self-supported effort.
The Highland Trail is a self-supported mountain bike route 560 miles in length with over 16000m of climbing. It was inspired by events in the US like the Tour Divide and particularly the Colorado Trail Race (CTR). Initially put together as a simple training ride in preparation for the CTR, it became apparent that the great trails, beautiful scenery, remote wilderness, and notorious fickle Scottish weather, offered a world class route for a self-supported challenge right here in UK. The majority of the route is on excellent trails, but includes some very technical sections, and everyone should expect some hike-a-bike, even the best climbers and technical descenders will find terrain beyond their ability.
With the advent of GPS units, navigation is no longer a real challenge should you choose to use one. However if you do not use a GPS, make sure you are competent at navigating. Not all of the route is obvious. Even with a GPS unit you should be prepared for its failure, and carry a paper version of the route. Should you need to keep moving in limited visibility or darkness know how to find your way.
The suggested date for the group start is Saturday on the last bank holiday in May, however feel free to test and enjoy yourself on the route at another time. The ideal period is around May and June. However, even then expect up to four seasons in one day as you will be travelling through terrain between sea level and 800m.
One route alternate is available to avoid a potentially dangerous river crossing in Fisherfield. If you arrive at this crossing and feel that it is too dangerous to cross, you may back track to the road and go via the coast to Poolewe. This will be a significant time penalty. There is no limit on the depth of the river, and it is up to the individual. Make wise and safe choices for yourself, regardless whether ten people have crossed before you.
Riding the route cannot be recommended in winter or between August and October when the stag stalking season is at it's height. Much of the route traverses private estates, many of which rely on stag hunting for a large portion of their income, so please respect this regardless of your personal view of this activity. The red deer stalking season actually runs from July 1st to 15th February so if you ride during this period make sure you check the implications of this. This website may help: