I grew up and live in the Scottish Highlands, in the town of Fort William. The north west Highlands are the wettest area in Europe and also see some of the lowest sunshine hours. Moist air rolls in from the Atlantic and hits a row of mountains, when the moist air rises against the mountains it condenses and rains directly on Fort William and the surrounding areas. We also have midgies. Small biting insects, they hunt in packs and appear in massive, ravenous clouds. I like to joke that they don’t bite native Highlanders/gingers so I’m safe. Truthfully they don’t carry disease and their bites are more irritating than painful so I’ve learnt to ignore them.
It’s nice to think of the midgies and the rain as natural barriers to stop my favourite place and home from becoming too busy and stressful as often happens to places with outstanding natural beauty and access to the outdoors. People see the empty beauty, perfect mountains, beaches, and rivers (as well as the Harry Potter bridge and Loch Ness Monster) online, in videos like this, and decide to visit but the midgies and relentless rain stop people coming back too often or from moving here. Which in turn, (hopefully) keeps the rivers clean, the mountains and beaches unspoilt and empty in the long run. The rain also contributes to the exceptional colours we get to experience – Blossoms in spring, vivid greenery everywhere in summer and strong red, yellow and orange in Spring. Huge areas are uninhabited and devoid of any man made structures or influence unlike many mountainous or wild places these days. This is something I love, being able to truly escape into nature and easily reach places where there is zero human interference, no roads, no ski lifts, no railways, paths or tunnels, just empty hills. Our rivers are clean enough to drink directly from, our lochs cold but ideal for swimming in. The locals are (mostly) friendly, easy going and low on ego which is also important!
I’ve grown to love so much about the area, including the rain and midgies.
The landscape and conditions make it the ideal place to fall in love with mountain bikes, not just for the thrill, joy and focus that come from flying down a trail but also for the ability to access some of the nicest places quickly and easily. Now raising a young family together with my wife Edie I’m seeing our daughters gain the same love for our beautiful surroundings and for the access and joy their bikes bring just as I did. So despite it’s apparent flaws (which are secretly positives) I like to refer to the place as “The Promised Land”
Thanks to Bluegrass for making this video happen. Alongside it’s parent company MET helmets I’ve been working with and having my head & body protected by Bluegrass for 10years now. Through many crashes, close calls, hot days, cold days, idiotic plans and ideas, races, adventures and everything in between and I can’t imagine trusting that job to anyone else. These days they are even keeping my wild little daughters safe on their bikes at pumptracks and out on the trails! Despite being the forefront of helmet design, testing and manufacture they are still a family owned and operated company. The company is run like a family too and is filled with warm and friendly people. So if you are in the market for a cycling or mountain bike helmet or protection for youself or your children and want to buy from people who truly care about keeping you safe take a look at MET and Bluegrass, you won’t be disappointed!