The Highlands Coast to Coast
The Highlands of Scotland are known for their stunning scenery and sparse population and conjure a romantic image which doesn't disappoint on closer inspection.
From the sandy shores of the Moray Firth east of Inverness to the dramatic and rocky west coast, south of Fort William, this tour includes a wondrous variety of scenery from historic highland towns to tiny fishing hamlets, mountain ranges to deserted lochs and gorgeous off shore islands and stretches of countryside in between.
Remarkably, this isn't a tough ride with just one day of riding uphill and the remainder with few hills. Yet Ben Nevis is in close up and you brush awesome Glen Coe. Stop at local favourite the Dores Inn on Loch Ness and pedal the towpath of the Caledonian Canal as you head through the Great Glen. Immerse yourself in history with a visit to Culloden battlefield, the site of the last full-scale battle to take place on British soil. Learn about the local legends at the castles of Cawdor and Brodie, stuffed to the turrets with antique furniture, paintings and ceramics. Ride through pine forests, past sweeping sandy beaches, across estuarine bridges and down a disused railway line hugging the seashore and virtually touching the western isles. Sample a 'wee dram' of local whisky at a traditional Scottish distillery en route and explore a pioneering eco-village at Findhorn. Ferry hop from Fort William and ride the length of the island of Lismore on the last day of your tour enroute to Oban. It's all part of the romance of the Highland coast!
This tour is available with both classic and luxury accommodation in the same villages/towns.
DAY ONE- ARRIVE IN NAIRN
Our friendly host will meet you in Inverness and transfer you to your hotel for the next 2 nights in nearby Nairn. This ancient fishing port and market town has a harbour and expansive beach. Once you've settled in, your host will brief you on the routes, fit you to your bicycles and answer any questions you have. The rest of the day presents an opportunity to explore locally and unwind in your hotel.
DAY TWO- NAIRN TO FINDHORN AND BACK
Heading to the remarkable community at Findhorn in a beautiful bay on the Moray coast, the riding is flat but always interesting. Tiny bridges lead over streams whilst 16th Century Brodie Castle is stuffed to the turrets with antique furniture. Spin past forests and stop at a distillery if you wish, before pedalling along the waters edge of the tidal bay, a haven for ornithologists. Findhorn village is cosy with a pub or two and is sandwiched between the bay and a stunning 7 mile beach. Here too is a spiritual community that is self sufficient, has its own currency and is also known for producing gigantic vegetables. Explore the village and unique marine setting before pedalling on to the town of Forres. From here you can take a short train hop back to Nairn or ride a fresh route to return to the hotel
Optional 16 or 38 miles (26 or 61 km)DAY THREE- NAIRN TO INVERNESS
Let quiet roads and a pretty landscape lead you to the most romantic castle in the Highlands - Cawdor Castle & Gardens, which Shakespeare chose for the setting of Macbeth. Stop awhile here before riding through an idyllic scene of grazing sheep and gently folded hills. Pedal under a breath taking viaduct and then up a few slopes to survey the battlefield of Culloden where Bonnie Prince Charlie fought in 1746. It's just a short distance then into the heart of Inverness.
24 miles (38 km)
DAY FOUR- INVERNESS TO FORT AUGUSTUS
Today is a completely different scene as you begin the ride along the water’s edge of Loch Ness on a quiet backroad. The setting of this vast and beautiful lake is magical with one or two pretty villages and their harbours and the delightful Dores Inn, located on a picturesque beach. This is the most demanding day with 2,500 ft (860 metres) of not too steep ascent above the loch with an awesome view from the top and a freewheel down hill into Fort Augustus which sits at the western end of Loch Ness. Gentle cyclists may prefer a transfer to the top, which we can arrange, at the time of booking only and is included in the luxury tour.
19 or 33 miles (30 or 53 km)
DAY FIVE- FORT AUGUSTUS TO FORT WILLIAM
Traffic free and almost flat today, your route continues through the atmospheric Great Glen where the hills and peaks tower above in this wild, unspoilt and spectacular scene. The silence is broken only by the occasional boat or swing bridge in action but you might glimpse a red deer, a diving peregrine or soaring golden eagle. Riding along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal, beside Loch Oich on a disused railway line and through forests on the shores of Loch Lochy, you are witnessing the Highlands at their very best. The flight of locks at Neptune's staircase signals your arrival on the outskirts of Fort William with Ben Nevis to the south and the sea waters of Loch Linnhe to the west. Your overnight stay is in Fort William.
31 miles (49 km)
DAY SIX- FORT WILLIAM TO GLENCOE
Cycle through Fort William and take the ferry across Loch Linnhe. Beyond is an idyllically peaceful, and completely unspoilt ride along the loch with no refreshments or cars in this part of the world, 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 you to pick up the cycle path along Loch Leven into Glencoe village where you will spend the night.
20 miles (35 km)
DAY SEVEN- GLENCOE TO PORT APPIN
An utterly glorious day of traffic free riding down the west coast of the Highlands reveals stunning scenes and a backdrop of islands. Often following a disused railway line and hugging the shore, you will breeze through hamlets and woodland, past old jetties and relic castles and cross the estuary into tiny, picturesque Port Appin. Your day includes a short transfer to avoid a very dangerous 2 mile section of main road. Those wanting to ride on, can continue south along the cycle path and cross onto the tiny island of Eriska for a refreshment, before retracing the route back to Port Appin.
16 or up to 43 miles (26 or up to 69 km)
DAY EIGHT- PORT APPIN TO OBAN
What a fantastic final day is in store! Here's your chance to experience the tranquility and beauty of a Scottish island by taking the 10 minute ferry to the 'garden island' of Lismore. With 300 species of wild flowers and 130 species of birds, this is a wonderful 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 (10km)
DAY NINE- DEPART OBAN
Depart from Oban at your leisure today. Oban has a railway station and inumerable ferries to the many islands. We recommend stays on the island of Iona or on Mull at Glengorm Castle. You can also add our guided tour here of the Highlands and Hebrides.
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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