There’s More Than Trials In The Highlands

I understand that Christmas is just around the corner, judging by the ever increasing number of Christmas trees, fairy lights, Christmas stockings and Santa Claus outfits that are appearing here, there and everywhere.

So if you are wondering what to have from the wife/girlfriend/partner for Christmas, perhaps an advance ticket to the World Trial in Scotland next June wouldn’t go amiss. They are currently on offer at the least expensive prices and as is the norm with these things, the price increases the nearer we get to the event.

My column doesn’t normally promote specific products because I like to be seen as totally unbiased and am not driven by any outside force, but sometimes there is a very good reason, and saving some money seems a good enough reason to me to promote this idea.

The trial takes place on June 25/26/27 with trials action every day (yes even the first day, but more of that in the future!), and believe me, from what I’ve learnt recently, this is going to be the biggest and undoubtedly the best ever trials promotion in the UK.

The Nevis Range location really has everything with vast amounts of hard parking, modern facilities and of course a gondola to transport you up the mountain to see the sections at the top. Of the 12 sections planned, six will be at the bottom within easy walking distance of the car park, four will be up the mountain and two will be inaccessible to all but the most enthusiastic of hill walkers on the hillside, one on the route up, one on the route down.

Of course, three days of trialing may well be great news for us trials fans, but is possibly not the most interesting way to spend three days if you are the long-suffering wife/partner. However, there are many other things for visitors to the Highlands to enjoy at that time of year, apart from the trial.

Thanks to information from the trial promoter’s partners, Event Scotland, Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Leisure, just some of the activities and visits available to visitors include learning to climb the Ice Wall in Kinlochleven at the Ice Factor; wildlife watching by inflatable boat based in Ballachulish, indoor rock wall climbing at both Kinlochleven and in Fort William itself as part of the swimming pool complex; canoeing and white water rafting, horse riding, golf, hill walking and fishing as well as less intensive ways to spend a few hours by visiting local galleries, museums as well as shops and cafes.

It’s amazing (and perhaps it makes me a bit of an anorak) but apart from a steam train ride to Mallaig a few years ago and an afternoon horse riding when my daughter had a passion for four-legged transport, despite visiting every Scottish since 1978, I’ve not been or done any of the above. But I will!

So, the point I’m making, it doesn’t have to be all trials watching at the world round, you can enjoy other activities as well, both before and after the event, depending of course on the length of your stay.

That’s enough of a plug, but perhaps it gives you some idea of what you want to ask for when it comes to Chrissy presssies.

The story this past week up here in the north west has of course been the horrendous rainfall which has washed away bridges and left many folks with homes that are impossible to live in.

The rainfall was recorded at 12 inches in 24 hours at Seathwaite, the greatest fall of rain in the UK since records began back in the mid 1700s. Seathwaite is within a rifle shot of sections recently used in the Lakes Two Day. Whilst the rain has little to do with trials riding, having been to a trial over at Bootle today and having seen for myself what damage such a force of water can do, I rather suspect that many streams and becks that are used by trials organisers up here in the north, could well have changed considerably, possibly making them impassable without much work.

I well remember a horrendous storm in Devon a good many years ago when I was resident in the south west and involved with the Otter Vale club. Two of the club’s classic sections were totally and utterly changed forever following the storm. “The Climb” suffered an almost total wash out with the bulk of the loose rocks which made the section what it was ending up at the bottom, whilst “Georges Goyle”, once narrow, twisting and very rocky, became much wider, and lost many of its rocks which revealed a sandstone base and looked totally different. I expect the same to have happened in places up here following the past week’s rainfall.