The Blog

5 stunning cycle routes on Scotland’s islands

Hayley Orr - View Comments

As well as being great exercise, cycling is also one of the best ways to absorb the stunning beauty of Scotland’s islands. Think sparkling lochs, rolling hills, hidden glens, rare wildlife and mile upon mile of paradise beaches and winding coastline – a real treasure trove of natural wonders.

Cycling is also a relatively low cost option for island exploring. Foot passage on ferries is significantly cheaper than taking your car on board and most ferry companies will let you take your bike on board free of charge too.

You can also hire a bike on most of the larger islands and some bike hire companies will even be happy to deliver the bikes to your chosen location. Here are five great cycling routes on Scotland’s islands to get you started. Happy pedalling!

1. Cumbrae Circular, Isle of Cumbrae

Millport Beach with a view towards Arran  © AG Firth

Known as the island of 1,000 bicycles, the beautiful island of Great Cumbrae is the perfect place to explore on two wheels. Cycle around the 10.25 mile circumference of the island and absorb the stunning sea views. Make sure to look out for the resident colony of seals too!

Find out more about cycling on Millport

2. Burray to Kirkwall, Orkney

Looking over to Churchill Barrier number 3, crossing Weddell Sound, between the islands of Glimps Holm and Burray

Travel through the charming islands of South Ronaldsay, Burray, Glimps Holm, Lang Holm and onto the Orkney Mainland using the famous Churchill Barriers. Speed along the road on these flat causeways before pausing to take in the scenery on each island.

  • Departure point: Burray
  • Finish: Kirkwall
  • Distance: 12 miles
  • Approximate time to cycle: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Nearby bike hire: Orkney Cycle Hire, Stromness & Cycle Orkney, Kirkwall

Find out more about the Burray to Kirkwall route

3. Hebridean Way Cycling Route – Vatersay to Barra, Outer Hebrides

Tangasdale Beach, Isle of Barra

This epic, long-distance route spans the length of the enchanting Outer Hebrides island chain (185 miles!). Why not tackle a shorter section, such as the Isle of Vatersay to Isle of Barra route (day 1 on our itinerary)? The route passes some of Scotland’s most stunning beaches, famous for their white sands and Caribbean-like azure blue seas.

  • Departure point: Vatersay
  • Finish: Ardmhor
  • Distance: 13.6 miles (21.89 km)
  • Approximate time to cycle: 1 hours 30 minutes
  • Nearby bike hire: Barra Cycle Hire, Castlebay

Find out more about the Hebridean Way Cycle Route

4. Scalloway to Walls, Shetland

Cyclists on the B9074 road between Asta and Scalloway, Shetland

Sweeping around the south east coastline of Shetland Mainland, this enchanting route passes glittering lochs, quiet glens and huge expanses of coastline. There are plenty of stunning viewpoints and attractions to stop off at en route too, such as Lea Gardens and the Neolithic Stanydale Temple.

  • Departure point: Scalloway
  • Finish: Walls
  • Distance: 23 miles (37 km)
  • Approximate time to cycle: 2 hours 30 minutes – 3 hours
  • Nearby bike hire: Various cycle shops on Shetland

Find out more about the Scalloway to Walls route

5. Mull, Craignure, Dervaig Circular, Isle of Mull

On Mull looking out to the Island of Eorsa

Discover Mull’s spellbinding landscapes as you cycle around the island. Take in stunning views out to the isles of Ulva and Eorsa before finishing your tour in Salen, where you can enjoy a well-earned meal. You can also extend or alter the route by adding a detour to Mull’s principle town, Tobermory, or beautiful Calgary Bay.

  • Departure point: Craignure ferry port
  • Finish: Salen
  • Distance: 45 miles (72.42 km)
  • Approximate time to cycle: 6 hours
  • Nearby bike hire: Mull Electric Bikes, Dervaig

Find out more about the Mull, Craignure, Dervaig circular

Find out more about cycling in Scotland, island hopping and plan your activity holiday. Don’t forget to share your pictures of Scotland with us using #ScotSpirit too!