Touring Scotland

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  • Has anyone ridden the Hebrides cycle route before from Barra to Lewis? Planning to do it in late May. It's only 185 miles, and so I was thinking I could do it over 4-5 days for a relaxed trip, but tinternet says 7 days which seems a lot... Any thoughts? Are ferries regular enough that I can just turn up with my bike and hop on, or is that something I need to plan around?

    Also, apparently everyone does it south to north due to the wind. Has anyone ridden it north to south? The trains work out better for me in that direction based on dates!


  • Ridden some of it, you would absolutely want some spare days in case of bad weather or wind. There's no shelter just about anywhere on the islands, and it's brutal when it's bad.

    You must stay at Berneray Hostel, the most wonderful spot at the end of the world. And Mangersta bothy, if you book ahead.

    All ferries information on the CalMac website. But be aware they are not infrequently cancelled due to bad weather.

  • You need to plan around the ferries, yeah. Some are quite regular, some are only a few per day.

    My friends and I did:

    • day 0 - travel to Barra
    • day 1 - Castlebay - Carinish, 94.68km, 4:58:48 moving time, 492m elevation
    • day 2 - Carinish - about 11km from Tarbert, 65.87km, 3:44:24, 532m

    then we went to Skye instead of on up to Stornoway. (Not sure if those distances include ferries)

    On that basis I reckon it'd be doable in 4-5 days but we were lucky with the weather and as @platypus says you might want to factor some time in for that. Last time I went to Rum we got stuck in a bothy for a whole day (i.e. 2 nights) as the remnants of some horrid tropical cyclone were blowing in. The weather's more extreme on the Outer Hebs...

  • Finally bothered to get the photos from our trip a few years back, man I want to go back as soon as the kiddos are old enough.

    First photos, Tarf Hotel bothy, what a day. Many rivers, a big antler found, lots of climbing, soft trails on 35mm tyres. Hard work.

    The following day we trekked up and over, I’m claiming a small mountain! Then rode down the other side, so fucking good.

    In all we rode Aberdeen to the end of loch rannoch, then got the train to fort William. Planning to write up the trip shortly.

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  • Absolute dream.

    One bothy we trekked for 2 hours and decided it was closing in so best to head back to ballater (or maybe braemar) - will check bothy name and town!


    Shielin of Mark - we could not reach
    Headed back to Ballater to sleep by the river and road detour to Braemar the next day

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  • Planning on riding Fort William to Inverness over a couple of days with kids. Has anyone taken the ‘South Loch Ness Trail’? Trying to work out how off-road it is, and whether to take trailer.

  • Is there any reason why you wouldn’t do the Badger Divide route from south to north (starting in Glasgow)? I was thinking the sleeper back from Inverness might work a little better logistically.

  • I met a guy doing it in that direction as I did it North to South. No reason why not at all.

  • The DH section through the woods just before Drumnadrochit is an absolute fucking hoot, you'd miss that going S-N.

  • So to answer the question that no-one else asked but I'l answer anyway (got a bit of time on my hands)..!

    Lochs and Glens was completely doable on a road bike. This was during summertime though and I travelled super-light. That said, it was really slow going as I had to be cautious not to puncture so definitely would have been more enjoyable (and probably faster) on of a gravel or CX bike which I stupidly decided not to take as I thought it would be too "slow and heavy." Ugh!

    Anyway, here are a few pics to get an idea of the ground conditions. This was the worst of it, which you can see isn't that bad....

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Touring Scotland

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