In a year of numerous Fastest Known Times (FKTs) Scottish endurance athlete Donnie Campbell took on the so-called Badger Divide. He set a new record of 19 hours and 14 minutes in June 2021, smashing the previous fastest time by more than four hours for the 200-mile route from Glasgow to Inverness (south to north).
(The FKT for the route north to south is 23:20.)
What is the Badger Divide?
The Badger Divide is a mostly off-road route from Glasgow to Inverness (or vice versa). The route is around 200 miles and includes almost 5000m of ascent. It was created by keen Scottish cyclist Stu Allan.
Most people take their time to enjoy the ride over many days.
Start of the Badger Divide in Glasgow.
The is an alternative ride, too
For a slightly shorter route with a total elevation of just less than 5000m, there is a ScotDuro race version, which could be described as Badger Divide Lite.
The Badger Divide Lite includes more road sections and misses out some rougher trail sections.
The Badger Divide is mostly off-road.
There are some road sections on the Badger Divide.
Donnie’s record ride on the Badger Divide
Donnie, who holds the record for the fastest round of all 282 Scottish mountains known as Munros, caught the train from his home to Glasgow.
He wanted to make the most of a good weather window last June and set off from the Badger Divide start at Kelvingrove Art Gallery at 11.45pm.
He enjoyed favourable weather to record a distance of He recorded 336km and a total elevation of 5,483m.
Donnie says: “The conditions were almost perfect and while it was cold to start with, it warmed up to be the ideal temperature. It wasn’t too hot, but not too cold either.”
Donnie rode self-supported taking his own food, including pizza, Trek cereal bars and empire biscuits, and water.
(If you would like to ride the Badger Divide with luggage transfers taken care of, please do get in contact with us.)
Donnie stopped at Fort Augustus on his non-stop ride and went into a garage for more food, including what he describes as a highlight of the ride: “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to eat at that stage of the ride but I picked up a pack of Nevis bakery carrot cakes. They were really good and went down well.”
Donnie reaches Inverness and sets a new record time for the Badger Divide.
Challenges of a Badger Divide record ride
There were several tougher sections of the ride. Donnie, a running coach, says: “Riding out of Glasgow on the Kelvin Way to Milngavie in the dark wasn’t that easy. It’s always slower riding in the dark.
“Temperatures were as low as 6C early on in the ride, too, so my feet got cold and stayed cold for the first eight or nine hours.
“Then there were several sections that were tiring. I think if I knew the route better, I would be able to tell myself that these sections would be over fairly quickly but there were some bits of trail that were hard work.”
The final two climbs of the ride, from Invermoriston and Drumnadrochit were the most challenging for Donnie. He says: “My legs were fatigued by this point.
“Another hard part is the steep climb on the Corrieyairack Pass. I managed it mostly in the saddle but then at the steepest part I got off to push the bike.”
Obviously, if you were riding the route over multiple days, you could take your time and enjoy the rough with the smooth sections of the Badger Divide.
Highlights of a Badger Divide record ride
There were plenty of highlights for Donnie. He says: “The sunrise between Loch Lubnaig and Stùc a’ Chròin was very cool. I really enjoyed the trail between Corrour and Laggan, too.
“And I always enjoy the last section on the Great Glen Way because I know it so well and because I know I am almost home.
“My Glasgow to home ride was always meant to be an enjoyable adventure. It really was. I am also pleased I have set a new fastest time.”
Stu commented on Donnie’s fastest time: “Amazing. He has put a big dent in the previous time.”
Difference between the two Badger Divide routes
Donnie had previously set a fastest time on the Badger Divide Lite, too. He describes the differences.
He says: “There was a bit of a different route in Drymen and also Aberfoyle and then again at Loch Lubnaig and at Loch Rannoch.
“In the latter two cases, the route was on trail and it was very rough in places. It was especially hard going on the descent of the rough Landrover track at Loch Rannoch, which was very rutted and hard to ride.
“The ScotDuro route uses more tarmac overall so the Badger Divide original route is harder because it’s on more track.
“Overall, the ScotDuro route is more flowing and makes use of some roads, while the Badger Divide original aims to use more trails and at some points travels a route that is less A to B and more meandering.
“However, I enjoyed the second ride much more. There was the better weather but also I was more prepared for the ride.”
* For details of the Badger Divide route see this Komoot link.
Support for your own Badger Divide ride
If you are keen to cycle the Badger Divide route in Scotland, please do get in contact to see how Highland Transfers can help you, especially with luggage transport. It's always easier and more enjoyable to ride a long-distance route if you are carrying less kit.