Quiet river valleys with natural woodland
The Kyle of Sutherland is a narrow channel at the head of the Dornoch Firth to which it is joined. It extends about 3 miles northwest from Bonar Bridge and is fed by the River Oykel. Carbisdale Castle, a former youth hostel, was built as part of the divorce settlement of the Duchess of Sutherland so it's not really very old. During the Second World War the King of Norway lived there. Staying there is an unusual experience, they can arrange bike hire.
Lairg is the only town in the area. It isn't particularly pretty but has a lot to offer, including places to eat, drink, shop and stay. The land around here was not always as sparsely populated as it is currently. It was part of the huge estate owned by the Duke of Sutherland. In 1807 the duke discovered that sheep were more profitable than people. So the crofters were forced to depart, many going abroad to Nova Scotia.
There is some lovely natural woodland here and beautiful views over the Kyle and the other rivers. You can start cycling from any of three train stations: Ardgay has hotels and shops and there are more in nearby Bonar Bridge; Culrain; or Lairg is the largest town in the area, the train station is a little south of the town on the A836. There is a cycle hirer in the town. The yellow roads on the map should be very quiet. The class A roads will be a little busier - some parts however are still single track with passing places. When crossing the Kyle of Sutherland near Culrain use the footbridge not the rail bridge!