5 Cycling Weekends In Scotland


You can have a holiday for two days each week and it does not have to leave your pockets empty. When you go back to work on Monday you will be refreshed and when someone asks what you did with your weekend you can tell them that you watched no Big Brother at all. Everyone should have a bicycle. A second-hand mountain bike can be very cheap (on gumtree and ebay for instance) and will give you the chance to get about at a perfect pace. Here are five weekends in Scotland.

1. Great Glen
Starting in Fort William, follow the off road cycle route, through the stunning Great Glen formed by the Highland boundary fault. The path will take you past Ben Nevis, and along side Loch Lochy before you arrive at Fort Augustus, a picturesque town where there are a good range of B&Bs, pubs and restaurants. Suitably fed, watered and rested, the next leg follows Loch Ness, so keep your eyes peeled for Nessie! If you arrive early, Inverness is a fascinating city to explore.
Both Inverness and Fort William are well served by rail from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

2. Arran
Easily accessible from the central belt by train and ferry, the Isle of Arran is a favourite for cyclists and walkers. A circumnavigation of the island is comfortable in two days by bike, with plenty of camp sites and B&Bs.
If you are a cutting a speedy pace the whole island is manageable in a day. On the remaining day a hill walk (or run) up Goatfell is a worthwhile outing, as is Caisteal Abhail.
For the more leisurely, why not take on just the north half of the island (with the most dramatic scenery). If you are heading round clockwise, you can whizz down a long hill, after climbing out of Glen Chalmadale, down in to the charming village of Lochranza. Here you will find a welcoming pub with good food, and a convenient youth hostel. On the way back, cross the island by a road built by Thomas Telford. Once back in Brodick, if you have time to spare waiting for your ferry home, bear in mind that Arran is famous for its whiskey, seafood and (especially for calorie-consuming cyclists) chocolate.

3. Ardnamuchan
Whilst crossing the Coran Ferry, there is a magic view south-west up Loch Linnhe as far as Mull, perfect for contemplating the tough weekend of biking ahead. Then it is time to put in some miles. Turn away from the waterfront at Inversanda and pass the foot of Garbh Bhienn. Follow the road along the north shore of Loch Sunart and then join the winding B8007 with a left turn at Salen. This fantastic but gruelling road, with all its bumps and bends, eventually leads you out to Ardnamuchan Point, the most westerly point on the mainland in the UK and a great place for spotting whales. Do not miss the pure white sandy beach at Sanna Bay, which feels almost Caribbean (if the sun is out). The most enjoyable way to spend the night here is wild camping. That is as long as you have remembered to bring the midge repellent.
Return to Fort William via Kinlochmoidart, Glen finnan and Loch Eil.

4. Mull
Mull offers great wildlife with a chance of spotting birds of prey, seals and dolphins. It also has Ben More the only island locked Munro outside of Skye. The scenery is fantastic, especially around Loch Na Keal.
Once you roll off the ferry in Craignure, follow the coast north east to Salen. Then pick up the cycle track that goes through Salen Forest and beside Loch Frisa (keep your eyes peeled for Sea Eagles above the trees). Turn left on a quiet road and spend a few hours picnicking on the delightful Calgary Bay. Then follow round past Loch Tuath and Ulva. There is a basic campsite at Fidden farm or you may prefer to wild camp a little further on (with the sheep for neighbours).
Wake up, pack up and cycle. Those with more time on their hands will follow the road out to Iona, whereas those constrained to a weekend will head back around to Craignure through Glen More. If there is time to kill before your ferry home, pop out and see Duart Castle.

5. Islay and Jura
There is and old Gaelic proverb that says; find you horse on Mull, you cow on Islay and your wife on Jura. However even if you already have a cow (and a wife) its still worth coming for the great views, standing stones, beaches and low-traffic cycling.

You can coordinate ferries so that you arrive at Port Ellen and return from Port Askaig. Once you have crossed Islay, take the ferry across to Jura and saunter along to Craighouse. Here you will find a distinct aroma of whiskey in the air and a nice pub. You may succumb to these delights and camp in the lawn in front of the pub, but a better spot just half a mile further, is a pure white beach by Loch Na Mile. Perhaps you can spend the next day looking for standing stones, or walking in the hills before riding back to catch your ferry home.

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