The article for Active Outdoors on my first Strathpuffer
This video is an edited snapshot of my first Strathpuffer, a 24-hour mountain bike event which takes place in January in the Highlands! Think 17 hours of darkness riding natural singletrack along with another 800 or so riders… To read how I got on with the experience – and what an experience it was – read my Active Outdoors article on the race.
Last year I headed out to explore some new sections of the Great Glen Way which have been built to help improve the long-distance route. This is a short video I shot while on the stretch between Invermoriston and Fort Augustus in December.
I found myself with an all-too-rare day with nothing planned today, so decided to go for a nice little trail run down at Dores. And what’s the best way to get to Dores? On the bike, of course!
Following the quiet roads and short sections of cycle path, I headed to the village on the edge of Loch Ness. There’s covered cycle parking beside the bus stop so I left the wheels and headed into Torr Wood to follow a four-mile run that features in Scottish Trail Running.
It takes you through lovely woodland to Aldourie, on a little detour to glimpse the castle then back round the edge of Loch Ness to the beach at Dores.
I didn’t fancy coming straight home so took my own detour on the bike to climb the long hill to the Loch Ashie crossroads. The effort is worth it for the long descent and fabulous view over Inverness and the Moray Firth.
Gavin Francis spent more than a year working as the base camp doctor at the Halley Research Station in Antarctica, cut off from the rest of the world – including his girlfriend – and spending three months in darkness during the winter. With the sea frozen, it is said to be easier to evacuate somebody from the International Space Station than it is to get them home from Halley in winter.
While he was there, Gavin wrote his award-winning book, Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence and Emperor Penguins. It brings together beautifully his longing for emptiness, a fascination with the continent and his interest in the only creatures which can survive in temperatures that slump to around -50C.
I will be speaking to Gavin about his experience in Antarctica during this year’s Inverness Book Festival, which is supported by The Inverness Courier. The event takes place on Wednesday 20th August at 6.30pm in Eden Court’s OneTouch Theatre.
Snaking up the hill in the early stages of the 20-mile run
The legs are slowly recovering after completing my second Highland Cross. I knocked around seven or eight minutes off my time from last year, coming into Beauly 5 hours, 22 minutes and 12 seconds after setting off from Kintail. The coast-to-coast duathlon involves a 20-mile run including a huge climb (part of which can be seen in the photo above) then a 30-mile cycle from Glen Affric to the finish in Beauly.
Here’s my Garmin breakdown of the event – run/transition/cycle:
Raising money for Raigmore Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)
During 2015 I'm going to be raising money for SCBU at Raigmore, where my two daughters were looked after when they were born prematurely. My main focus is a Land's End to John O'Groats cycle which I am tackling in May, while my wife is also raising money for the cause firstly by running the Inverness Half Marathon in March.
Please click on the Donate button below to help our fundraising! Thank you so much.
About John Davidson
I'm a journalist in Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland who specialises in the great outdoors - including walking, cycling and mountaineering.
I edit Active Outdoors - a weekly newspaper feature and twice-yearly magazine - for Scottish Provincial Press, as well as contributing to other outdoors publications. In my day job, I work for SPP as deputy production editor, overseeing the production of 16 weekly newspapers as well as a number of magazines and special publications.
I have written two books of walking and cycling routes around the Highlands and I also volunteer for Sustrans, the charity behind the National Cycle Network.
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My first book, John Davidson's Guide to Walking and Cycling in Inverness and the Highlands, is now out of print. However, copies are still available in some retailers.