A 60 mile route around one of the three great inlets on the east coast of the Highlands which makes use of the ferry at Cromarty to allow a circuit to be made. Much of the route is regularly used by cyclists on Lands End to John o' Groats trips.
Parts of this route are regularly used by cyclists on Lands End to John o' Groats trips - indeed much of it uses both summer and winter versions of National Cycle Network route 1 (NCN1). In summer, cyclists can make use of the short ferry crossing at Cromarty to cycle northbound on one of these before returning southwards on the other. The route is described from Dingwall as this gives good access by rail.
From the station in Dingwall follow Station Road (which is a one way street) to join the A862 at the traffic lights. Follow the A862 to the roundabout, then the A835 towards Inverness (a cycleway for all of this stretch means the busy roads can be avoided). After crossing the River Conon take the first turn on the left and follow the B9163 through Alcaig until the main A9 is reached overlooking the Cromarty bridge. Cross the A9 and continue on the B9163 which climbs up above the firth and through the scattered community of Cullicudden before returning to the shore at Balblair. Shortly after Balblair a left turn leads through Jemimaville and along the shore road to Cromarty. It’s worth exploring this historic town, probably the best preserved in the Highlands before catching the ferry to make the short trip across to Nigg.
From the pier at Nigg follow NCN1 initailly on the main B9175 then on a minor road through Pitcalnie. A mile or so beyond Pitcalnie turn left at the T junction to rejoin the B9175 after a mile. Another mile further on, turn left at Arabella and follow this road to Kildary. At Kildary cross the A9, pass the garage and then turn immediately right to head away from the A9. Follow this road, veering right at the crossroads and continue uphill to Scotsburn. At Scotsburn turn left and follow this road towards Alness. The road stays high above the firth and on a good day the views extend as far as the Cairngorms almost 60 miles to the south. This section is all part of the winter version of NCN1 (used when the ferry isn’t running) so these signs can be followed, firstly high up, then downhill and through a couple of minor junctions to Alness – and eventually even back to Dingwall.
Beyond Alness a section of purpose built cycle track leads to the junction at Skiach Services from where a minor road is followed to Evanton. There is a cycle route here as well but it isn’t tarmac so may not be suitable for all road bikes. At the far end of Evanton, turn right past the school and follow the minor road for the last three miles back to Dingwall. This road also remains high to start with and gives some great views before the descent into Dingwall. Once into Dingwall the most direct route back to the centre involves taking a right turn shortly after the sawmill, down Tulloch Avenue and across the main road by the leisure centre.