Highlands and Hebrides
The Scottish Highlands are world renowned for their stunning scenery and the west coast where this tour begins includes peaceful and idyllic lochs, dramatic mountains and passes and a coastline dotted with a myriad of islands.
Among these, the Outer Hebrides are some of the most remote which gives them their special character. With astonishingly beautiful white sandy beaches and isolated dwellings, the islands of Barra and the Uists reveal their crofting legacy and a flat terrain for cyclists. Linked by a string of ferries, the tour includes the inner Hebridean island of Skye and its notable hills which you will soar across with your driver guide for the day before returning to civilisation in Fort William aboard a steam train along one of Britain's most scenic stretches of railway.
You might think that, alas, this is not the place for gentle cycling. But thankfully with the canny use of cycle paths on disused railway lines and a plethora of ferry hops there are almost no hills. We are thrilled with the itinerary we have designed and its close historical links with the infamous Bonnie Prince Charlie, its blend of castles, local crafts, fishing culture and seafood and its unsurpassed landscapes.
We have chosen delightful and characterful small hotels and cosy inns for the classic trip and outstanding boutique luxury hotels on the mainland for the luxury tour. We guarantee you will be blown away - in the nicest sense!DAY 1 ARRIVE FORT WILLIAM
Arrive in Fort William and check into your grand castle hotel. Take a walk through the grounds, saunter along the waters edge, sniff the highland air and ogle at the mountain backdrop. Your host will meet you tonight to brief you and organise your cycling equipment.DAY 2 FORT WILLIAM TO PORT APPIN
Take the first of 2 ferries today, crossing Loch Linnhe for an idyllically peaceful, and completely unspoilt ride with barely a slope on your route and the shore always at your side. Sheep, bogs and woodland are in the foreground and Ben Nevis in the background. The Corran ferry takes you back across the loch for utterly glorious and largely traffic free, flat riding down the west coast of the Highlands revealing stunning scenes and a backdrop of islands. Following a disused railway line and hugging the shore, you breeze through hamlets and woodland, past old jetties and relic castles and cross the estuary into tiny, picturesque Port Appin.
31 miles (49 km)DAY 3 PORT APPIN TO OBAN
What a fantastic day is in store! Here's your first chance to experience the tranquility and beauty of a Scottish island by taking the 10 minute ferry to the tiny 'garden island' of Lismore. With 300 species of wild flowers and 130 species of birds, this is a wonderful albeit short ride across the island with 300 ft of ascent. Learn about the island's heritage and stop for refreshments before boarding the Achnacroish ferry for the one hour crossing back to civilization and the mainland at Oban. Your overnight stay is in the heart of the town.
6 miles (10 km)DAY 4 OBAN TO TANGASDALE, BARRA
This morning you have a choice - you can explore Oban with its distillery, busy fishing port and interesting shops. Or you can ride along the coast to Dunstaffnage Bay to see the castle there and the marine science centre. It is of course a ride with a view, looking out to the numerous islands that lie close by and beyond. In the afternoon, leaving your bikes at the hotel but taking your bags, board the ferry for the island of Barra - a fantastic 5 hour crossing past Mull and Ardnamurchan Point to the Outer Hebrides. There will be lots of daylight as it won’t get dark until about 11.00pm so Barra will have the light behind it as the ferry comes in. Your hotel is close by once you have landed.
Optional 9 miles (14 km)DAY 5 TANGASDALE TO POLOCHAR
Pinch yourself as you rise and listen to the silence. Then pedal away to Vattersay - once an island but now linked to Barra and discover its idyllic sandy beaches. There are some short hills on this section but the views are worth the effort! The rest of the ride around Barra to the north east coast is gentle and awesome and heads past the world's only runway that uses a beach at low tide. The landscape is one of sea, sand, stoney outcrops and green, dotted with sheep and dwellings. Cross to the island of S Uist by ferry at the end of the afternoon and your overnight stay lies just beyond gazing out west across the sea from a tiny bay with adjacent sandy beach.
25 miles (40 km)DAY 6 POLOCHAR TO LOCHCARNAN
Spend the day exploring South Uist as you pedal very gently north along tiny back lanes through boglands and ponds to coastal bays, inns and a craft centre. Whilst you see hills to the east, your route is flat and abundant with wildlife. The island has a different feel to that of Barra and displays a wild charm. Your stay is at the northern end of the island.
27 miles (43 km)DAY 7 LOCHCARNAN TO LOCH EPORT
Still heading north, you cross by causeway onto the islands of Benbecula and then to North Uist. Visit an art cafe, fish smokehouses and local museum. Again the riding is through gentle lowlands with lakes and bogs aplenty and long, wild gorgeous views. Your destination is Loch Eport with a former hunting lodge and highly recommended restaurant.
22 miles (35 km)DAY 8 LOCH EPORT TO SLEAT, SKYE
Its an early start for the short ferry crossing onto the island of Skye where you will be greeted by your private driver. He will spend the day with you as you explore Skye. Discover our favourite open air museum with a small croft at its centre. Enjoy the stunning and dramatic setting of the hills to the north of the island, visit one of several castles if that's your thing and amble around Portree, the capital of the island. Your hotel for the night is in the south of the island.
VariableDAY 9 SLEAT TO FORT WILLIAM AND DEPART
This morning you will be transferred for the final ferry crossing of the trip back to the mainland at Mallaig. From here, enjoy something very special as you ride on the Hogwart's Express taking you back to Fort William aboard the steam train. This is one of the most scenic train rides in Britain as it cuts through the highlands and often stops briefly at Glenfinnan for you to photo the viaduct. The train departs Mallaig after lunch and your tour ends on arrival in Fort William as you return to civilisation.
From £2530 per adult
April — September
The Red House, College Road North
Tour company information
The Carter Company
Designed with the thoughtful traveller in mind, our creative routes aim to show you the hidden gems of Scotland, not just the highlights. Pedal or walk the glens, highlands and coast as you get to know the stunning landscape, culture, history and cuisine, and at the end of the day unwind in our favourite boutique hotels. With over 25 years of experience, our small team offers top notch service and we are picky when it comes to hotels! Our number 1 criteria is quality whether you are looking for a classic trip in authentic bolt holes or stays in Scotland's finest castles and hotels.
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