Mostly, this is random stories from my various trips as I collect them, but I've a wee backlog to get through too and those will pop up occasionally.

Feel free to leave comments.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

A Northern Cairngorms Loop

Between walking and cycling I've managed to find most ways of crossing the main body of the Cairngorms but a couple of options had somehow eluded me. In an attempt to correct this oversight and as way of familiarisation of a possible future ride I chose to combine them for a short overnight bivvy. 

The first part of the ride was definitely familiar to me. The route from Aviemore to Tomintoul passes through lots of interesting spots. Safe to say this was by far the wettest I'd ever ridden it though. Lots of puddles and muddy spots didn't promise well for the later river crossings.


A wet warning of what was to come - bottom bracket depth.
The sign has to be a joke - there's no way round this.

Some of my favourite singletrack after Forest Lodge
Looking across to Strath Nethy

The Faeshallach was flowing but I made it across through careful use of boulders as stepping stones. I doubted the next crossing would be as straightforward.


The Faeshallach - I made it across here with dry feet.

Approaching the Big Egg (gaelic Eag Mhor - the big notch)

It's a cracking place for a ride

Some care required. Having an accident here would be no yolk.

Purple poo - a sure sign it's Blaeberry season

On reaching the Dorback Burn my suspicions were confirmed. Not only has the burn changed its profile through the gravel banks, it was flowing fast and deep. Knowing that the Burn of Brown was still to come, I didn't bother faffing and just waded straight across. That was the boots properly wet now, and no chance of drying out. 



The Dorback Burn. A change of direction and deeper than I've seen it.

Looking back at the Big Egg. I was going for another pun but I reckoned an oeuf is an oeuf.

The Burn of Brown was crossed three times before I made it to the path on the south bank. This wanders in and out of the trees a lot and, having wet feet already, I'm not sure it was worth the effort compared with just making more crossings. 


I wonder how many folk this has put on the right path?

The first of three crossings of the Burn of Brown
 On reaching Tomintoul, I popped into the Post Office for some food and drink, kicked back, took off my boots, wrung out my socks and let my feet air in the sun for a while. Of course, I'd no sooner done this when a big cloud came over and killed the warm sunlight.

Going my way?
Leaving Tomintoul I was finally on some unfamiliar territory. I have to say, the middle reaches of the River Avon are really very pleasant and there was a definite feeling of heading upwards and into more remote territory as I went. The road and track certainly made for good progress, though when this ended to become rocky singletrack it was even better fun. 


Just below Queen Victorias viewpoint.I bet she didn't cycle here!

Disguising itself as a fallen tree, the carnivorous Highland Bearcow awaits an unsuspecting salmon.
Reaching Loch Builg, the track became a bit more boggy and less well defined, necessitating a little walking but with already wet feet I wasn't making much effort to avoid puddles. 


Unexpected beach on Loch Builg
The climb up Culardoch went a little quicker than I'd expected. Perhaps it was the threat of the impending rainclouds approaching from Ben Avon. They finally broke as I was at the summit so I stopped being so stoical and donned a jacket for the first time of the day. 

The descent was on loose and steep estate road. I was always tempted to go faster but I kept repeating my two wilderness riding questions; where are you? and who are you with?  The answers kept coming back the arse end of the Cairngorms and I only have my Spot tracker for company. 


The descent off Culardoch just as the rains came.

Reaching the woods near Invercauld was a welcome change of scenery. There's a definite "Braemar-ish" feel around here that somehow differentiates it from the Rothiemurchus side of the massif.


Quite a welcome sight after the bleaker high terrain

Looking towards Braemar and Glen Dee (and a bed for the night)

Been there, done that.
Braemar was an opportunity to grab some food (from the chippy) and take stock. I'd not been watching the clock, occasionally trying to judge time of day by the amount of daylight. I was happy with it being not quite 7 o'clock and headed out towards Linn of Dee to ponder a bivvy spot. 


Getting nearer

Still too early - crack on

Demanding and potentially dangerous - just like being at home then!

Nice spot - but not for me

Linn of Dee came and went - far too early. White Bridge then? Too early and some campers already there. 


The Geldie would have to do. I got there just as the rain started and even looked at the old building as a potential stopping point but the midge were numerous and good ground hard to come by. I decided to head upstream. I knew that wet ground was sure to follow and hoped it wouldn't slow my progress too much but it became a bit of a boggy trudge, interspersed with the occasional bit of pedalling. I was now in that spiral where it was getting dark and I was getting increasingly slow, leading to it being even more dark as I headed towards the watershed. What's more, the whole area was sodden meaning I could see no decent bivvy spot. As it got darker, I opted to continue on to the waterfall of the Eidart, hoping that the change of terrain would give me more options. It turned out not to be so and I (carefully) crossed the bridge with the water roaring beneath me. By now, all I could make out of the track was the line of tyre-marked puddles. Another look at the map confirmed that I'd now be heading down to the riverside and closer inspection showed a building. I expected this to be a ruin but I figured that no one would build something the middle of a bog so this was likely to be my best hope for dry ground. 

I was, thankfully, correct. An old stable, walls mostly gone and with holes in the roof it did, however present my best bet for stopover point. I had, briefly, considered pressing on to Ruigh-aitchechan bothy in Glen Feshie but I knew this was likely to take quite a while, would involve crossing the landslips in the dark and might not make me too popular with anyone else already asleep there. My tarp made a useful temporary wall patch, cutting off the breeze coming from the west and though the ground was a bit rocky, the air mattress took it in its stride. A quick change out of wet gear and I was in the sleeping bag in double quick time. I had a stove with me but that seemed like too much faff and, having managed to forget a hipflask, I made do with some water and nuts for supper.


Not exactly 5 Star
It wasn't a bad night, the midge netting on the bivvy bag kept the menace at bay and I fell asleep very quickly. The 5:30 alarm call wasn't necessary though. I'd woken a couple of times and watched as the night broke into reluctant daylight. By 4:45 I adjudged it to be bright enough to consider making a move. A quick breakfast and hasty packing session before donning my wet clothes (brrr!) and I was on the move. Thankfully, I was able to pedal most of the way out, though I doubt I'd have made as good progress in the dark. 

A faint glow of sunrise

The upper reaches of the Feshie in this area have a definite non-Cairngorms feel about them. In fact, it reminded me of my trip into Kintail earlier this year. I was also coming back onto familiar ground and soon reached the area where two significant landslips make manhandling a bike a bit precarious.


A bit tricky this one - not to be attempted in the dark!


The purples of late summer developing nicely

Some astonishing light in the morning sun.
 I'd also somehow miscalculated how far these were past Ruigh-aitchechan and kept expecting it to appear well before it eventually did.  

The last bit of bike-pushing came when crossing the Allt Garblach. This minor river crossing was transformed into a deep canyon last year when we experienced lots of flooding. What was a nice stepped descent, small bridge and stepped climb out now necessitates a lot of manhandling on steep, loose ground. 

Allt Garbhlach devastation - check out the steps on the far side

A big drop from this side too

Easy to miss this in the dark - and suffer a serious fall



Back onto tarmac for the final stretch home

After that, it was a quick spin to the road (watching out for a further landslip area) and back towards Aviemore. Not yet 8:00, I arranged a suitable postscript in the form of breakfast at the Mountain Cafe with my wife. With my own breakfast gone, I was forced to finish hers - and a couple of rounds of toast. Safe to say, I did so guilt-free!! 


Fear not - there's bacon in there too!
136km, 2,061m of ascent
GPX File here (Right Click, Save As...)

Friday, 8 July 2016

10

Interesting number, 10. 10 fingers, 10 toes, we count in 10s, we talk about top 10s, 10 things to do before you die and then, of course, there was Bo Derek.


I don't know what Dudley Moore saw in her

I got to thinking about it recently, looking at some folk who were competing in the Tour Divide Race and watching their ability to sustain a good overall average speed. Now 10 miles per hour doesn't seem very fast in that regard. Most reasonably fit cyclists will be able to average 10 mph. Sit on a bike, start pedalling and you'll soon be at 10 mph. But it's sustaining that over longer distances and durations. What becomes obvious is that trying to maintain an average of 10mph also means reducing stopped time. Every second the wheels aren't turning eats into your overall average speed and maintaining 10 mph suddenly isn't so easy. 

I recently had the opportunity of a free lift to John O'Groats so I planned to ride down to Inverness on National Cycle Network Route 1. I was keen to do this as we lots of customers going this way (though normally northbound) and the Cromarty-Nigg ferry service had just re-opened, making the Black Isle section of NCN 1 a good through route again. However, after a phone call from home relating to a family illness, the ferry option became untenable. The last evening ferry is at 18:00 and the first morning ferry isn't until 8:15. Frankly, I was never going to make the former and I didn't fancy hanging around all night. I therefore opted for plan B -  I'd stick to the "standard" NCN1 route through Alness, Evanton and Dingwall and I'd see what was needed to do to get through a long days riding at that target of 10 mph.

With a bit of route planning I was able to come up with a nice ready-reckoner for when I would have to be leaving a few points en route and this would be my quick look-up for the day. Mainly, these were places where I might find food. I was carrying a little with me but was also hoping to see what I could shop-forage as I went. As back-up, I also had my bivvy, sleeping bag, mat and tarp (all having been packed when the ferry option was still on). The weather forecast was for light westerlies and showers. I knew I had 60-odd miles of riding west to start with but this sounded perfectly fine. 

Fabulous still evening on the Saturday night before departure
Standing at the famous John O'Groats signpost on the Sunday morning, I was very aware that the "light" winds were a bit stronger than ideal. It was knocking a few degrees off the temperature too as they seemed to have swung more towards the North West. On the upside, the skies didn't look too threatening.


Not quite so pleasant the following morning.
Undaunted - and with little option - I set off up the hill and onto NCN 1. It was 8:32.

I'd cycled this bit fairly recently, doing a signing check for SUSTRANS so it was quite familiar. I was though, struggling with my gears. Stupidly, I'd not checked them out after fitting the handlebar harness. The right shifter was a little stiff - though this loosened up after I jiggled the cables about a bit. The left shifter stayed stiff even after this - a sign that everything was not well.....  

Looking down to Gills Bay I could see the morning ferry from Orkney just arriving. As a result, there was quite a bit of traffic on the main road. I was glad to be up on NCN 1 and away from all of that. Initially, the headwind didn't seem too bad, but as I approached Thurso it was already beginning to get a bit annoying. My first "checkpoint" was Strathy. I arrived a whole 53 mins ahead of schedule, having averaged 12.6 mph. This was easy.


There's a  change in terrain as NCN 1 reaches Sutherland, the flat, rolling moors giving way to some real hills

Into Bettyhill and checkpoint 2. Due to hills and the headwind my speed had dropped a little to 11.4 mph and it was obvious my options for grabbing food were going to be very limited. Being Sunday, the only shop in the village was closed, a pattern that was repeated throughout the day. I did manage to find a hotel and bar offering lunch so opted to climb off the bike for a while. With an overall average speed in mind, it became a frustratingly slow experience. Find staff, explain requirement, wait to be seated, wait for menu, select food. wait for staff, order food, wait for food, eat, wait for staff, ask for bill, wait for staff, offer payment, wait for change. Every minute sat waiting becomes 1/6th of a mile not travelled. As a result my 45 minute stop had dropped my speed to 9.7 mph so I was now behind schedule. 

Just for good measure, the wind also seemed to be getting stronger, however it was blowing all the cloud and rain inland so at least I was staying dry. I was, though, glad to reach Coldbackie where the route turned south, even though that meant I was heading into darker skies. I'd been having to pedal downhill in places and I was looking forward to being able to freewheel a little more often. In fact, so happy was I about this prospect that I stopped for a celebratory coffee and cake. More delay, but I hoped that not fighting the wind would make a difference to my moving average. A short stop here meant that I went through Tongue 36 minutes behind schedule, an average of 9.6 mph, despite all the hard work along the coast road.

Looking over Tongue Bay to the Rabbit Islands
Heading south definitely seemed easier and, despite the impact on my speed, I also stopped for a couple of photographs. The view over the Kyle of Tongue is superb, often matching that of some of the Hebridean beaches. Today,  the overcast sky had knocked much of the colour out of it but Ben Loyal stood to the south looking like some mischievous god had plucked it out of Skye, dumped it in Sutherland and thought "this'll keep them guessing". 

The route skirts right round the bottom of Ben Loyal
Heading towards Altnaharra on the "main" road.
As the road wound up and down past Altnaharra and lonely Crask Inn I felt I was going a little faster and passed through the latter now only 15 minutes behind schedule. Digging into my food bag I found a Eat Natural Protein bar and managed to rip the wrapper open with my teeth. What followed was 15 minutes of laborious chewing. It was dry as a budgies litter tray and barely more tasty. I reckon I actually consumed more calories eating it than it gave up.

On the faster descents towards Loch Shin I was in the big ring and as I hit Lairg all attempts to shift out of it failed. I knew that staying in a 52-tooth sprocket was never going to work so stopped in Lairg to see what could be done. Despite fiddling around with cables and trying everything I could, the only option available was to reset the front mech so it was over the middle ring. Despite it being gala week, Lairg was pretty dead. I knew there was a hotel serving food but I was now very aware of how much time delay that would cause so I passed it by, leaving Lairg 14 minutes ahead of schedule, average speed now 10.2 mph. 

I now knew that the only option for hot food would be at Invershin so pressed on arriving 24 minutes ahead, 10.4 mph average. The menu had a limited range and I struggled to work out what I wanted and what wouldn't take too long, eventually opting for a burger. Though it arrived promptly enough, I found I really struggled to eat it. It felt more of a necessity than a desire and so it took me quite a while. I also had to call home at this point, further delaying my departure. As a result I was now 29 minutes behind schedule, overall average 9.6 mph. On the up side, the weather had taken a turn for the better and it looked like I might make it back to Inverness dry. 

NCN 1 takes an unconventional line
Across the weird bit of cyclepath by the rail bridge and I was now on some very quiet roads, becoming familiar as I hit Ardgay. 


Long evening shadows heading almost due south at this time of year

Coming on to the A9 at the Dornoch Bridge was a bit mind-jarring though. It's hard to believe Britains premier long distance cycle route is routed on the A9 trunk road with no path, markings or other form of segregation. Mind you, it's a wide enough road and at 10pm on a Sunday evening it's not like there was too much traffic. 


Looking back over the Dornoch Bridge as the sun finally sets
The turn off to Tain soon appears and what's then required is some careful sign-watching as this is where the optional route via Nigg and Cromarty peels off. Tain also marked a return of westward riding and hence of the headwinds I'd been sheltered from for several hours. I'd made up some time on the last leg and just hoped this wind wasn't going to be a problem as I was now only 7 minutes behind schedule, 9.9 mph, tantalisingly close to my 10 mph target. 

It was about now that the lights came into play. I'd had the dynamo running  all day (attracting a few flashers) and now switched on my helmet mounted lamp too. This proved essential on the run into Evanton where the cycle path flits around from one side of the road to the other with lots of 90 degree corners and road crossings. Frankly, I found it all a bit frustrating, slowing me down unnecessarily, although I can see why it would be a great thing for kids cycling to/from school etc. The road rises away from the A9 for a while before quickly dropping into Dingwall. Again, a wee bit of careful observation for NCN signs is necessary but I was past the railway station 11 minutes ahead of schedule and now at 10.1 mph. I knew it was now just about the climb over the Black Isle. The westerlies were now crosswinds and there is a decent path/track all the way to Kessock. With that in mind I just kept a steady pace up to and past Tore roundabout (where some workmen were completely mystified by this late night cyclist) and to my penultimate checkpoint just before Kessock where I found I was 24 minutes ahead of schedule, 10.3 mph. 

I was now pretty sure I'd done enough and was feeling elated but the rain I'd mostly managed to avoid all day finally caught up with me crossing the Kessock Bridge and then I was suddenly into the various twists and turns of NCN 1 again. I was eager to get back to the van and dry but also dreading making a wrong turning and having to back-track  at this late point. 

A final photo stop alongside the River Ness and I arrived at Bellfield Park at 00:39. 28 minutes ahead of schedule and with a final overall average speed of 10.2 mph.


Almost there

Target met then, with a little to spare, but quite a few lessons learnt or at least driven home. 

The most obvious conclusion is that stopping for any length of time really knocks back the average speed in a way I'd not really been consciously aware of before. A couple of minutes here and there will always add up. Minimising stop time makes for faster times or less effort for the same time.

The second was that sitting down to eat a meal is often almost instinctive rather than logical. That burger at Invershin seemed like such a good idea before I had to eat it (and it was a lovely burger). Eating little and often, especially if undertaken while pedalling, doesn't place such a sudden big load on the stomach.

Third was remembering not to panic if a leg or two is a bit slower than planned. If you're not taking hills and winds into consideration then expect the average to ebb and flow a bit.

The fourth lesson only really hit home the following day. Although it's been years since I did a ride of this length, a steady easy pace saw me through it with no major pains and aches. I was comfortable during the whole ride and was still able to enjoy it all. There's something to be said about not underestimating your abilities.

Metric schmetric


The "what if"s. 

What if I'd set out to do the whole ride in one day, I'd have not had bivvy gear and overnight clothes with me, the load would have been lighter and less of an effort required. 

What if I hadn't suffered that headwind for the first few hours. I'd have been quite a bit quicker and my legs would have been a lot fresher later on.

What if I was actually fitter and had a few long rides like this under my belt?

What if the route was a bit longer - 200 miles, 240?


And the shifter problem? Turns out it was nothing at all to do with strapping the harness on the front. A little "nut" has managed to dislodge itself, going AWOL somewhere. As a result the shifter is basically now a pile of spares

So, will there be a follow-up blog entry for "11"? I think not. I give you this instead.....



Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Act 3: The Bike (caution nerdsville ahead)

The final push to restarting my overnight adventures comes in the way of a new bike. I say new, it's now covered over 1,200km so I've had a chance to get used to it round my local trails. I thought it might be worth explaining what it is - and why I've arrived at this particular design.

In previous posts I've told of my fatbike and where I've been with it. Truly a revelation, the fat tyres and frame have shone on "proper" fatbike terrain like snow and ice but have also shown their capability on other, more common, conditions where the amazing traction and wide floatation transform what's possible on a bicycle. However, it's impossible to deny that there is a weight and drag penalty in many other conditions. 

I was therefore intrigued when Surly launched the Krampus. 3" tyre width promised to be a good compromise between fat and non-fat tyres. Unfortunately,  with me being 5'7" the Krampus was never going to be suitable as a bikepacking platform - wee legs and tall wheels rule out many luggage hauling options.

My previous decision to buy a custom Burls Ti 29er for bikepacking was looking pretty astute until WTB came along with 27.5+ or 650B+, whatever you like to call it. Here was the 3" tyre option for those of us shorter in leg. Of course, as a new "standard" there was the question of how widespread it would be adopted but being the impatient sort, I immediately set about seeing how I could obtain it. 

Initial investigations showed that, despite the suggestion B+ might fit in many existing 29er frames,  my Burls was not amongst them. The chainstays were simply too narrow to permit anything larger than a 2.4" tyre. Shame - the frame was otherwise ideal and the cost of converting it was simply going to be too great.

The next option to consider was too look at what was on sale.  At this time, there wasn't much and, having gone the custom route already,  I felt willing to do so again to get just exactly what I wanted without having to compromise on details. 

Step up Brant Richards and Pact Bikes. Brant was offering to work with buyers to help them arrive at a good solution to their requirements without them having to know all the intricate details. This was ideal. I'd fire over some geometry, Brant would model it and together we worked out how to fit everything I wanted into something that could be manufactured. It's a good system. Too many times I'll look at a bike (or frame, or something not bike related at all) and it won't be just what I want, requiring some compromise or other. And with a bike designer in the loop between me and manufacturer, I was a lot less likely to end up with something that handled like a dog or had some other strange characteristic.

Some of the features I decided on were as follows;

  • Clearance for a 3.5" tyre. A range of B+ tyres was only just becoming and I wanted to keep all options open.
  • The ability to use a front derailleur (new Shimano side-swing). I still much prefer 2x gear systems to give me a range for uphill-loaded cycling and faster "road" transitions. The side-swing style creates extra clearance between the downtube and the fat tyre, though it requires a different cable routing.
  • Boost rear axle. This longer axle provides a suitable chainline for the wider tyres. As a "bolt-through" 12mm style it also creates a stiffer rear end, something I'd experienced on other bikes and appreciated.
  • Aimed at 100mm travel forks. I wanted the option of fitting rigid forks and these mostly come with axle-to-crown lengths to match a 100mm travel suspension fork. I also reckoned 100mm of travel was more than enough for the use of the bike.
  •  31.6mm seat tube with "stealth" cable routing for a dropper post. This was way down the list of my requirements but seemed to offer a "something for nothing" option.
  • No rack mounts. THis was a bit of a departure for me. Previous frames always had these and I'd specified them for my Burls. However, I never used them and have adapted to the soft luggage options completely now.
  • 100mm head tube. I wanted to keep this short as I knew the taller wheel would result in quite a high bar position anyway.
  • Small BB drop. A bit of careful juggling with numbers indicated that retaining a slightly higher BB would sit me slightly higher, increasing the space between saddle and tyre and reducing the possibility of the tyre rubbing on the bottom of a fully-loaded seatpack.
  • Three sets of bottle cage mounts. Two are internal to the main triangle and the third is fitted below. This has the triple cage mount suitable for the likes of a Surly Anything Cage, providing an additional luggage carrying option.

Other factors like stand-over height, bent downtube to ensure fork control clearance and tube shapes/sizes were arrived at between Brant and myself and, with a final check-over of all the numbers, the frame was ordered. made and delivered in a few weeks.

With all of that coming together, I also had to consider some of the other components. 
  • Rims; The first proper B+ rim available was the WTB Scraper i45 rim. This promised a nice wide rim and tubeless compatibility at a reasonable weight.
  • Hubs; Hope Pro2 Evo. I've used Pro2s extensively without issue and again there was little choice at this time.
  • Tyres; My original tyre choice was the Panaracer FatBNimble 3.5" front and rear. Light weight and a tread pattern similar to my beloved 45Nth Husker Dus on my fatbike.
  • Drive train; Shimano XT M8000 2 x11 for the gear range and suide-swing mech.
  • Brakes; Shimano XT M8000 again. I've always liked the fell of Shimano brakes and these offered a simplified brake/shifter arrangement to reduce handlebar clutter.
  • Forks; I found some rigid carbon forks through ebay that took a 15mmx110 Boost axle and had the correct A2C height. A bit of a long-shot but the only option I could find. Suspension forks are Boost Rebas. The only models available were 100mm travel with a bar-mounted lockout or 120mm travel with a crown lockout. The lockout isn't a feature I use a lot and I prefer not having that additional cable (bar clutter and bar bag mounting issues) so I opted for the 120mm to try out and reduce travel if necessary.
So - what does it look like and how does it go?


First build - FatBNimbles, rigid forks, Loop bars

Initial impressions were favourable. Light, easy rolling, seeming to pick-up and carry momentum from nowhere, comfy and grippy. Everything I was looking for really. And then it got wet. Frankly, the front tyre became a liability. With a profile wider than a standard MTB tyre but not as wide as a 4" fat tyre, the front end would just skate across any thin mud and I'd lose control. Luckily, salvation was at hand. Unlike the 29+ tyre market, B+ was coming on stream really quickly and I bought a 3" Nobby Nic for the front. This made a huge difference to grip - and therefore confidence - without it feeling like I was getting a lot of tyre drag. 

I also fitted the Rebas to replace the rigid forks. I'd been happy with rigid on my fatbike, though as I explored its capabilities on a wider range of terrain, I'd come to understand how suspension and fat tyres might work. As an initial option, I just fitted them with 120mm travel (in theory more than the frame was designed for) and again it just seemed to feel "right" from the first ride. As a result, I've left them on. With a few more subtle changes, the bike now looks like this.

Nobby Nic, Rebas, flat bars

Nice dropouts and the 12mm axle.

Additional bottle/Anything mounts

It had to have a name!

Tyre clearance ample with FatBNimbles

"Asymmetric" chainstays 

Plenty of clearance in the Boost Rebas


In summary, I'm really pleased with the frame - and the bike it has helped me create. Inevitably, there are a couple of minor tweaks I'd make if I was doing again, the most important being that I tend to clip both the chainstays and seatstays with my heels. This has been a problem with all my bikes and it's mainly because I pedal like a duck!

Some things I've still to play around with are; a more extended test using Jones Loop bars, fitting and riding the 29er wheels I also built, fitting the rigid forks again, trying a different rear tyre, maybe even fitting a B+ front and 29er rear. 

And the name? Well, though I like the look of Titanium frames, I do think the bare metal needs something to break it up. I ordered some decals from RetroDecals and was looking for something in addition to the Pact logo. Brant had taken to giving some of his frames names like Fatcat and Battlecat. I thought Wildcat was appropriate given that Speyside is a home to the rare Scottish Wildcat and the frame had been conceived - and would be largely ridden - here.


Loaded up

Cat and Dog