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Epic Cycling Routes & Holiday Ideas in the Highlands

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The Scottish Highlands are vast and beautiful, boasting incredible locations for a bike ride or leisurely cycle.

From circular cycle routes, forest tracks, and waymarked paths, to stunning viewpoints, long-distance trails and mountain biking centres, there are a range of terrains and settings to suit everyone so you can get out cycling in the Highlands.

We’ve put together a range of routes and holiday ideas that will suit all ages and cycling abilities. Have a read and get planning your next cycling day trip or cycling holiday in Scotland!

Where can I go cycling in the Highlands?

Loch Ness 360

If you’ve heard of Scotland, you’ve heard of the iconic Loch Ness. Get on your bike and take your friends around the Loch Ness 360 Trail.

You can start and finish the trail in the Highland capital of Inverness, or join the loop at any point you please. Journey around the banks of Loch Ness and stop off at one of the many attractions along the way, or at Suidhe Viewpoint for a picnic with a view. Head to the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre or Nessieland to learn all about the mysterious Loch Ness Monster that has been a legend of the area for almost a century. Stop off for a picnic at Abriachan Forest and admire the panoramic views of the area, or stretch your legs with a walk to the Falls of Foyers.

Why not stop off for some scran at Velocity Café in Inverness?

Terrain: good quality paths and forestry trails, some steep uphill and downhill sections with lightly trafficked minor roads. Limited mobility access.

Distance: 80 miles/130 km

Time: 2-3 days

Find bike-friendly accommodation in and around Inverness

Explore the Loch Ness 360 Trail

 

Far North Way

Uncover the formidable and untouched landscapes of the North Highlands. Running from Inverness to John O’ Groats, the Far North Way crosses the Kessock Bridge and continues on cycle tracks alongside the A9, and then on minor roads across the Black Isle.

This route is a stunning option to your cycling holiday, with raw Scottish scenery surrounding you the entire 200 miles and countless prehistoric cairns and archaeological remains to spot along the way too. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles, red deer and a range of native Scottish wildlife that make their home here, as well as open plains, magnificent mountains and tranquil coastal seascapes to immerse yourself in.

Stop by the many small towns across the Black Isle, refuel at local cafes, stop off at a cosy B&B or self-catering cottage, and head to local attractions and sites to learn more about this rural area of Scotland.

Terrain: roads and waymarked cycleways

Distance: 200 miles/321 km

Time: 2-3 days

Find bike-friendly accommodation in and around the North Highlands

Explore the Far North Way

 

Great Glen Way

Intersecting Scotland from south-west to north-east, bike through the Great Glen – Scotland’s longest. This route takes you from Fort William to Inverness, passing three scenic lochs along the way; Lochy, Oich and Ness, as well as a variety of attractions to stop off at and explore too.

Explore Neptune’s Staircase, a staircase lock comprising eight locks on the Caledonian Canal, with incredible views to Ben Nevis and the Grey Corries above Fort William. Marvel at Thomas Telford’s engineering work along the Caledonian Canal and delve into 17th century heritage in Fort William and Fort Augustus. Head for some tasty food at the Caledonian Canal Centre in Fort Augustus too.

Terrain: very hilly in parts and includes off-road vehicle tracks, single-track and some quiet roads.

Distance: 77 miles/ 125 km

Time: 2-3 days

Find bike-friendly accommodation in and around Fort William

Explore the Great Glen Way

 

East Highland Way

Taking you from Fort William to Aviemore, this route journeys into the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and boasts a variety of scenery and ancient landscapes to explore. The East Highland Way also joins together the famous West Highland Way, Great Glen Way and the Speyside Way in the north east. Along this route you can admire towering mountain views, trails passing many quaint lochs, and peaceful woodland paths.

The East Highland Way can be split into 7 sections with many stopping points, nearby accommodation and attractions, so you can choose whichever section you fancy, or challenge yourself to complete them all.

Venture just 3 miles off the route to stop off for a bite to eat at Alvie Forest Food in the Cairngorms.

Terrain: only short sections of the route are waymarked, some sections are more challenging, but much of the route follows forestry tracks. A lot of the route isn’t waymarked, so it is recommended that only experienced bikers should take on the route.

Distance: 82 miles/132 km

Time: 3 days

Find bike-friendly accommodation in the Cairngorms

Explore the East Highland Way

 

The Bealach na Ba

Cyclists who love a challenge, and a dramatic backdrop, need to take on the Bealach na Ba, arguably the UK’s toughest hill climb.

Located in the mountains of Wester Ross, head along this loop which encompasses the Bealach na Ba and the road to Shieldaig. This tough but rewarding route showcases some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery, with panoramic views and sights out to the isles of Raasay and Skye and beyond, and north to the giant Torridon mountains, and is definitely one for every cyclist’s bucket list.

Head for a bite to eat at the Waterside Café in Lochcarron, or stop off for a hearty meal in the Applecross Inn in Wester Ross.

Terrain: road surface but very steep and hilly, suitable for experienced and fit cyclists.

Distance: 43 miles/69 km

Time: 5 hours

Find bike-friendly accommodation near Applecross

Explore the Bealach na Ba

 

Inshriach Forest and Glen Feshie Circuit

Head out with the family for a morning or afternoon bike ride around the historic town of Kingussie.

Start the circuit from Kingussie or Kincraig and cycle past the ancient ruins of Ruthven Barracks, the scenery of the River Feshie and Feshie Bridge, keeping an eye out for red squirrels and capercaillie – one of Scotland’s rarest birds.

Nearby, Loch Insh Outdoor Centre is a great place the kids will love! With watersports, archery, and outdoor activities on offer as well as The Boathouse serving up delicious dishes, it’s an ideal place for families.

Terrain: roads and forest trails

Distance: 20 miles/33 km

Time: 2.5 hours

Explore the Inshriach Forest and Glen Feshie Circuit

 

An Lochan Uaine and Loch Morlich

Enjoy a day trip of cycling to these popular lochs near Aviemore.

Loch Morlich is a favourite for locals and visitors alike, with many surrounding trails and paths among native Caledonian pine forests that you can explore on foot or on two wheels. The forest trails around the loch are flat and ideal for a family bike ride. Nearby An Lochan Uaine, also called the Green Loch, boasts mesmerising blue-green waters, backed by a scree donned cliffside, and is a great place to stop off for a picnic, or just to admire the views.

You can start the route from Aviemore, or if you have a car, there is parking by Loch Morlich and near An Lochan Uaine.

Afterwards, enjoy a coffee at Cobbs Café in Glenmore Forest Park Visitor Centre, or why not pay a visit to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre next door?

Terrain: forest trails and paths

Distance: 19 miles/31 km

Time: 4 hours

Explore An Lochan Uaine and Loch Morlich

 

Mountain biking centres

The Scottish Highlands are also home to a range of mountain biking centres where you can test and develop your skills on purpose-built mountain biking trails. There’s trails for everyone, from the complete beginners to the seasoned pros.

There are also guided tours available if you want to get outdoors but are not sure where to start:

Gravel biking

Gravel biking is a newer addition to the two-wheel scene and lucky for you there’s great places in Scotland to try it out. Here are just a few options to try, there are many more trail options criss-crossing the region:

Find out more about gravel biking in Scotland

 

That was just a taster of the biking and cycling holidays on offer in the Scottish Highlands. Whether you’re a young family looking to explore the trails and paths of the ancient Caledonian pine forests, or you’re a mountain biking pro wanting to try new tricks on new terrain, you’re in the right place!

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