Touring Scotland

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  • Nice easy start there.

  • Haha.

    For sure. Gonna stick to the flat coast to Dundee. Hopefully not too much wind and make the day a Audax diy (loaded w panniers)

  • I did Dundee to Strathyre, north of Callander, when I was studying in the former, and that was a solid afternoon out. If I recall, there was a fairly stiff westerly and I did the Tay flood plain section west of Dundee which meant the ride started with a tough 1.5 hours. Not that it got much easier after that.

  • Cool, sorting schedule at the moment, but may give you a shout.

  • Just back from the Highlands and thought I'd share a wee ride report.

    Drop bar gravel bike with 700x38 Teravail Rutland tyres, full bike packing and camping set-up for surviving whatever bizarre weather combo Scotland rolled out for me. Not bare bones, but equally not overkill. Kit list on request.

    By the end of the trip I was only carrying about 1 day or less of food onboard, compared to 3 days at the start. I thought I'd be hunting for calories, especially with Covid restrictions, but there are Coops and other small stores dotted around. Just plan ahead to keep the weight down.

    Took the train to Glasgow - no stress booking a bike on the day before. Social media or live chat worked best depending on train provider. 50/50 on whether reservation was checked at each connection but would have been left stranded a couple of times if I hadn't booked.

    Bashed along the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William in 2 days. It was about 70% lush or manageable gravel, 10% ropey woodland track, and 20% rocky gully madness. Several people advised me to take the road along the west of Loch Lomond to avoid some grim hike a bike on the north-east shore. If water buses had been running I would have preferred to take the south-east shore to Rowardennan and then crossed the loch to the west shore, but no luck.

    Weather was seriously warm for most of the trail, but rain closed in and the wind picked up for the last quarter. This change in conditions halved my speed. Fortunately I'd also navigated the most demanding sections of the trail - I'm unsure if I could have safely completed them without a decent mountain bike setup.

    Scenery was banging on the approach to Glencoe and beyond, so last 1/3 of the trail was by far the most picturesque.

    Riding on road to Invergarry to visit a mate was fairly grim on some fast A road. I'd take National Cycle Network Route 78 if I went back.

    Return train Fort William --> Glasgow. Managed to book my bike on last minute but would recommend in advance to avoid that nervous wait on the platform while the conductor checks reservations. Ace trip back enjoying the scenery with an egg McMuffin and pancakes.

    Overall it's a fun one to bike. Really well sign-posted but you do need a map to check the odd turning. Recommend OS maps app (£5 subscription for the month, buy and cancel the renewal). Lots of bailout options or road loop substitutes as it basically follows the same valley passes as the A82.

    It might actually work better on the bike. It's a bit like having a donkey carrying your gear. When it's on the move the living is easy. You can skip through the less inspiring sections and make small detours to explore. But once it stops and you have to push it up 'The Devil's Staircase' you'll curse the day it was born.

  • How many hours of annoying rock slab action did you endure on the East side of Loch Lomand, still never done that bit, folk im with always bail and take boat across (but then you have nearly 10 miles of camper vans and trucks inside your asshole on the a82).

  • Doing badger divide tomorrow and planning to stop near killin. I remember someone mentioning on this forum some.good camp spots, hoping someone has suggestions as was just going to go south side of loch tay and hope for the best.

  • If you could put yourself in one bit of Scotland and do 4–5 days of pure road riding on different roads where would you consider?

    Current plan is to head from Glasgow to a friends place on North Uist in one go, stay a few days then ferry over to Skye and make my way inward to stay in one location for around a week, then back to Glasgow. Just not sure where I would get the most out of the riding staying put somewhere. Ideally wouldn't take a tent so somewhere within a 200k range from Uig I think would be doable.

  • ullapool or maybe aviemore

  • The peninsulas on the mainland between Skye and Mull have some lovely roads. Arisaig, Ardnamurchan and Morvern. Mull is also nice and the ferries link nicely with the peninsulas.

  • Let me know how you go! Thinking about doing this soon

  • My experience was not as bad as some people would like to have you believe.

    I've gone south from Inversnaid loaded up with front panniers, North to Inversnaid on a coaster brake only klunker and I think both directions of that section with a (ss) freewheel.

    I've done North from Inversnaid once and didn't go right up to Beinglas etc, I jumped the boat across to Ardlui and went up the a82 for a pint and some grub at the Drover's.

    As I remember, Rowardennen to Inversnaid gets progressively worse until you're carrying the bike and using it as a ladder to get up and down things but a lot of it is rideable.

    Good brakes and the ability to back pedal definitely help as some of it is pretty technical.

    North from Inversnaid wasn't so technical as I remember it, just lots of steep bits and quite overgrown in places which made the going harder. Think it was a bit less interesting than the Rowardennen-Inversnaid bit and that's why I patched it at the boat. To be fair, it probably actually gets easier from there as you move away from the loch side.

  • It's just a lot of pushing and carrying, every 10m in some places, hundreds of drainage ditches with sharp edges that are just a bit far to bounce over or up hill etc. Can't see much as its deep in trees so not really interesting
    After the ferry to ardlui its more rideable, more open.
    Done it now, don't need to do it again lol. Would prob take train tk ardlui and start from there. Add an extra 30 miles of Gravel on by taking some farm tracks around bridge of Orchy /talla/blackwater instead

  • Cannot recommend enough. Tough 3 days and that was with ok weather.

  • Took loads but I'm a terrible philistine phone snapper so apologies for the quality. Think this was on beginning of corrieyarick. Will upload more when I'm not on my phone as it's only letting me do one at a time.

    We got lucky with the weather, first day I even put on some suncream. Only got a thorough drenching twice and the midges were bearable.

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  • Last month I spent two weeks doing this, stopping along the way for some walking, fell running, painting and wildlife.

    I got the train to Oban, which goes through some dramatic landscapes, and straight on the ferry the next morning. It's a popular destination, and the boat was full of grotesque 4x4s. The tourism is mostly in the north of the island though, and I rode across the south of Mull to my first stop at Ardtun, a caravan in a field of sheep looking out at a mountain. From there I explored the nearby lakes and estuaries, found whole goose and herring gull skeletons, and another skull I've not identified yet (very exciting).

    Next I made the short trip to Iona. The tiny ferry was fun. I stayed in a shepherds hut that just about stayed warm enough at night. I would advise taking a four season sleeping bag whatever time of year you go. Didn't get much painting done because I lost a day to rain. Had an amazing run around the north coast of the island, on which I found the skull of a Great Northern Diver, a bird I hadn't even heard of before. On the top of every hill here is an odd little stump, which I found out from my sister are the remains of crosses that marked a pilgrimage trail around the island. Iona has just one road and one path, which makes exploring quite tiring, as you're always climbing through bogs. Loved it.

    After three days I packed up the bike again, posted some paintings and bones back to Gipsy Hill, and rode north to Tobermory. Beautiful rainstorm swept past as I approached the mountains. Found a dead dogfish on the beach. Overtook a group of riders, one of whom tried to catch me on this massive climb which made it fun. 40mph descent to a cracking coast road. Bit of a headwind and the last climb before getting in was brutal, later I found out it was gusting 80mph off the North Sea.

    Nice to be in an apartment with a shower. Painted Loch Frisa. Walked the north coast and found more herring gull bones, a near complete sea urchin, a beautiful live slow worm which I filmed, and the bones of deer scattered on the rocks, I looked up and imagined they must have fallen from the cliffs. Two crows barked at me from the clifftop and followed me down the beach. I told them they could eat me if I died. Had a boggy but spectacular run to the top of Speinne Mor, and cycled home in the dark with bats zig zagging across the road in front of me. Startled a huge deer.

  • Left Tobermory and rode south down the east coast back to the ferry at Craignure where I started. Bought some home-made chocolate from an incredibly grumpy woman at Annies Cafe. Ate the chocolate immediately outside and went back in for more, telling her how good it was and I had to take some for the poor people in Edinburgh, and managed to make her smile. Return ferry was nearly empty. Maybe all the 4x4s had driven off a cliff. Found a dead razorbill on the beach in Oban.

    What followed was the Wettest day on the bike so far, but a lovely part of the route, Oban to Tyndrum. Single lane mountain road, very little traffic. Got to my bnb worryingly cold. Walked up two Munroes, Ben Oss and Ben Lui the next day, saw a gorgeous frog, a mountain hare, a mouse and a raven. Also this brilliant lake. Host was really nice and cooked me fresh trout from the loch for breakfast. There was a live beetle in the jam but I didn't say anything.
    Pictures from the top of Ben Lui

    Packed again for the last 90 mile ride to Edinburgh. Spent a cold morning in thick fog which cleared as I reached Loch Lubnaig, the warmth of the sun was very welcome. Cycle Route 7 is some of the best dedicated bike paths I've ridden, some gravel, some tarmac, some winding descents through the woods. Managed to stay away from the cars until I reached Dunblane, then rejoined the road to go through Stirling. Stirling Castle is impressive. All the kids came out of school as I rode past and I thought about if you grew up there would Stirling Castle just be boring. Crossed the Clackmannanshire Bridge and finished the ride with 20 miles of the Union Canal towpath which was flat (obvs) but very pretty in places. Rolled across the Meadows absolutely wrecked. THE END

    Union canal Towpath

  • Pics aren't working for me but that sounds like an excellent trip

  • Pictures are working now/for me.

    Fantastic stuff @William.!

  • Superb! Thanks for sharing.

  • Lovely trip, makes me wanna get out and explore :)

  • Great read, lovely pics - thanks for that.

  • Nice work squire! Certainly recognise a lot of that. Meant to get to Mull for a quick skoosh around the Island on the roadie, I guess there is still time.

    When I ride past Loch Lubnaig, regardless of the bike or tyre width, I avoid the road. Rather hike up the walking path with cleats than ride that wee stretch past the loch.

  • Anyone done the Lochs and Glens Way? Looking at heading that way when restrictions ease. Has the advantage of starting in Glasgow where I know people and finishing in Inverness which is not far from where my Dad grew up. Thoughts/suggestions/alternatives gratefully received

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Touring Scotland

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