The Celtman! triathlon is one of the toughest on the planet: a 3.4 km swim in a sea loch, a ride of 202 km across some of the windiest and steepest roads in Britain and a 42 km run that includes two Munros (mountains over 900 m). All that, and midges too! Yet plenty of people take part: registrations for 2018 are already full.
Whether you’re taking part, supporting a competitor or just there to watch, you want to be comfortable, have everything close to hand, and be able to eat when you need to (especially given the Celtman’s 5 am start). A motorhome makes the ideal base.
A home from home
A luxury motorhome is ideal accommodation for the Celtman and other adventure races. It has everything you need, including hot showers, a kitchen, bike racks, space for all your gear and room to hang wet clothes (the weather can be as extreme as the race, even in June). At the end of the day you don’t have to drive miles to a B&B – you have the luxury of just rolling your weary limbs into a comfortable bed right near the finish line.
You can park a campervan anywhere, within reason. Our recommendation would be to get to the race area a few days before the event, or you’ll find many of the best pitches gone. There aren’t many registered motorhome sites in either place. There is a Camping & Caravan Club site at Kinlochewe, by Achnasheen, with 55 motorhome and caravan pitches. Alternatively there are good wild camping sites around the lochs – though you’re obviously not guaranteed to find the pitch still available if you drive away for the day. Torridon Camp Site only has tent pitches, sadly.
What else is there to see near Torridon?
There’s no point rushing all the way to Torridon for the Celtman! race day and then dashing home again. It’s a glorious part of the country and worth spending several days exploring.
If you’re a water fan, Gairloch offers marine wildlife spotting and an award-winning Heritage Museum with plenty of working models. From Badachro you can take a fishing boat and help set creels, or you might prefer a small boat trip on the calmer fresh water of Loch Maree.
If gardens are your thing, you’re in for a treat: Inverewe Gardens at Poolewe are world famous. You might not expect exotica on the wild west coast of Scotland but the Gulf Stream helps warm the air here and, with a good shelter belt to protect it from the Atlantic winds, the garden flourishes. It’s now run by the National Trust for Scotland. Attadale Gardens at Strathcarron is described as an “artist’s garden”: the surrounding views are framed by the vegetation, while sculpture, waterfalls and pools of water surprise you as you wander.
For history lovers, Eilan Donan Castle is not far away and there are brochs and other old structures to discover all over the hills.
If you still have any energy after the race, there are plenty of walks and mountain bike trails both on the flat (near water, usually) and over the hills. Scotland has a “right to roam” law, allowing you to walk wherever you want as long as you do no damage and keep any dogs under control (on a lead for preference). Make sure you take a map and emergency rations.
Sea kayaking is a popular sport in Scotland, and there’s miles of coastline here to explore on your own or with a guide – or you could take a canoe on one of the inland lochs for a less “bumpy” alternative.
Other opportunities to experience the great outdoors include coasteering, gorge scrambling, wildlife tours, Munro-climbing, loch or sea fishing and, of course, golf (this is Scotland, after all).
A word about midges
Scotland is famous – some might say infamous – for its midges and the further west and north you go, the more vicious they get. The best midge-repellent yet invented (according to members of the Royal Marines, no less!) is Avon’s Skin So Soft moisturiser. Local shops will also have a variety of more or less effective anti-midge brews. Slap them on; no-one is immune to the Scottish midge.
The other really effective midge repellent is smoke; this is the one time everyone loves to sit down-wind of a smoker, and pipes are particularly effective. BBQs work well, too, and a really smoky one adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the flavour of the meal.
Midges don’t like wind. Nor do they operate off land – which gives sea kayaking and whale watching considerable added attraction. They don’t get inside clothing either, normally, so covering up well helps prevent the little brutes making too much of a meal of you.
But don’t let them put you off the trip – Torridon is a magical place, with plenty to see and do outside of the Celtman! The race will provide all the thrills you could want, and the competitors will thank you for cheering them on.
When it’s all over you can retreat to the comfort of your midge-free motorhome to enjoy the views of loch and mountain and the almost 24-hour daylight of a Scottish June.
Featured image credit: English Pointers