Discover an unexpected waterfall, freewheel down a quiet woodland trail or crest a hill to see an incredible vista before you. There are plenty of cycling routes for beginners in Scotland - so get your bike out, or hire one, and find your own breathtaking views by bike.

Each suggestion follows mostly traffic-free, clearly sign-posted National Cycle Network (NCN) routes and mountain biking trails. Just don't forget to pack a picnic and your camera!

1. The Caledonia Way - Fort Augustus to Laggan Locks

Caledonian canal, Fort Augustus

  • Where: Near Fort William
  • Distance: 22 miles/35km there and back
  • Start/Finish: Fort Augustus
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Canal towpath and some unsealed gravel sections. Parking in Fort Augustus.

This lovely route, part of the Caledonia Way, offers stunning Highland views up Loch Ness and along the Great Glen, which bisects Scotland. The route follows the Caledonian Canal towpath and the old Invergarry to Fort Augustus railway line from north east to south west, eventually ending at Laggan Locks, where it reveals imposing mountains towering above Loch Lochy. 

Rest at the lovely wee café kiosk at Laggan Locks in front of the amazing view, as you enjoy an energising Barista coffee and maybe a slice of something sweet, before heading back to Fort Augustus

Follow The Caledonia Way.

2. Strathyre to Lochearnhead

Loch Lubnaig

  • Where: Near Stirling
  • Distance: 5 or 12 miles/8 or 19km there and back
  • Start/Finish: Broch Café, Strathyre
  • Grade: Easy
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Mostly flat path.

Ideal for those setting out on one of their first cycling adventures, this stunning route along The Lochs & Glens Way, begins at the Broch Café in the village of Strathyre and meanders through the vivid colours of Strathyre Forest and the rugged surrounding landscape of Rob Roy Country. Stop at Mhor 84 for a delicious bite to eat or continue onwards to Lochearnhead.

This route also incorporates part of the BLiSS Art Trail, a unique selection of sculptures by local artists, so keep an eye out for some very Scottish characters along the way including Drover's Bho the Highland Cow and Ewen the West Highland Terrier.

Follow The Lochs & Glens Way: Rob Roy Loop Day Trip.

3. Strathkelvin Railway Path - Kirkintilloch to Strathblane

  • Where: North of Glasgow
  • Distance: 16 miles/26km there and back
  • Start/Finish: Kirkintilloch
  • Grade: Easy
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Road and sealed cycle path with some hills. Parking in Kirkintilloch.

Here's an easy out-and-back route that takes you past delightful villages and through scenic countryside north of Glasgow, and all framed by the majestic Campsie Fells.

It's an ideal traffic-free route for families on good cycle paths, with several options for coffee and cake along the way. 

The route starts on Canal Street in Kirkintilloch, only 9 miles from the centre of Glasgow - one of the host locations for the UCI Cycling World Championships in 2023. You'll follow the old railway line, which closed to trains in 1966.  

Follow the Strathkelvin Railway Path.

4. Logierait to Dunkeld Loop

Ossian Hall Black Linn Falls

  • Where: Highland Perthshire
  • Distance: 21 miles/33km
  • Start/Finish: Logierait
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Quiet roads and sealed cycle paths with some good climbs. There's limited parking in Logierait.

Explore Perthshire, often known as Big Tree Country, on this leafy route running alongside Scotland's longest river. On the outward leg along NCN77, it's well worth taking a short detour to explore The Hermitage and Black Linn waterfall and Pine Cone Point in Craigvinean Forest, which offers stunning views over Highland Perthshire. 

We'd recommend a visit to 13th century Dunkeld Cathedral and there are lots of eateries in the wider village of Dunkeld, to top up the energy levels, before embarking on the return leg. The route returns on the opposite side of the River Tay, passing Dowally and Guay on the way back to Logierait. 

Reverse the route and start at Dunkeld & Birnam Railway Station to avoid travelling to Logierait by car.

Follow the Logierait to Dunkeld Loop

5. Linlithgow to Blackness Loop

Blackness Castle, By Linlithgow

  • Where: West Lothian
  • Distance: 10 miles/16km
  • Start/Finish: Linlithgow
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Canal towpath, B-class roads with A-class road sections, steep climb out of Blackness and parking in Linlithgow.

Travel through time on this loop route which takes in the historic town of Linlithgow with its now-ruined royal palace, and the pretty village of Blackness, with its 15th century castle guarding the south shore of the Firth of Forth.

Blackness Castle is sometimes referred to as the 'the ship that never sailed' due to its unusual configuration and has featured in a number of film and TV productions. 
 
Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and King James V and the historic town offers lots of options for refreshments and a railway station, if you want to avoid getting here by car.

Follow the Linlithgow to Blackness Loop

6. Aviemore to Abernethy Forest Loop

Strathspey Railway

  • Where: Cairngorms National Park
  • Distance: 19 miles/30km (shorter route also available)
  • Start/Finish: Aviemore
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Good off-road, unsealed sections and quiet B-class roads, not too much climbing and plenty of parking in Aviemore.

This route heads out of Aviemore, initially along one of Scotland's Great Trails - the Speyside Way and the lovely River Spey. If you have kids with you, why not take a Strathspey Steam Railway train to Boat of Garten and start there instead? Cyclists and bikes are very welcome on board. 

From Boat of Garten, the route loops around Abernethy Forest passing the RSPB's popular Loch Garten Osprey Centre, before following the scenic and quiet B970 back into Aviemore.
 
There are regular train services which stop at Aviemore railway station to avoid needing the car. 

Follow the Aviemore to Abernethy Forest Loop.

7. Crinan Canal - Ardrishaig to Crinan

Crinan Canal

  • Where: By Lochgilphead
  • Distance: 17 miles/27km there and back
  • Start/Finish: Ardrishaig
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Mostly flat, traffic-free unsealed canal towpath with parking at Ardrishaig.

Enjoy this largely flat route, cycling the towpath along Scotland's shortest, but arguably most scenic canal. 'Britain's most beautiful shortcut' dates back to 1809 and was built to offer easier access to the Atlantic for ships heading to and from Glasgow, avoiding a longer trip south around the Mull of Kintyre.
 
Pedal quietly and you might meet some of the local wildlife. As you near Crinan, the route opens out to give amazing views over to the Inner Hebridean islands of Jura and Islay and the Slate Islands.
 
There are a number of options for refreshment stops along the way and if you're staying a while in the area, don't miss the remarkable history of Kilmartin Glen and the Scottish Beaver Trail in Knapdale Forest. 

Follow the Crinan Canal route.

8. Helix Round Town Trail Loop, Falkirk

YOCW Kelpies

  • Where: Falkirk
  • Distance: 17 miles/27km)
  • Start/Finish: Helix Park, Falkirk
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Terrain, gradients and access: Cycleway, canal towpath, woodland trails and one short, lightly-trafficked on-road section. There are some hills along the route and parking is available at Helix Park.

This is a great route to break down into smaller parts if you'd rather not ride the whole 17 miles in one go. With so many amazing Falkirk attractions and viewpoints to take in along the way, it's worth doing a little bit at a time and coming back so you have more time to admire and explore! 

Take some time to appreciate Andy Scott's breathtaking and massive equine sculptures, while the kids will love the adventure playground in Helix Park and exploring the grounds and mountain biking trails of Callendar Park.
 
Adults can enjoy a tour of the Falkirk Whisky Distillery, not far from Callendar House. The route also takes in the iconic and innovative Falkirk Wheel. There are regular train services between Falkirk and Edinburgh and Falkirk and Glasgow, if you'd rather leave the car at home.

Follow the Helix Round Town Trail Loop

9. Drumlanrig Castle 

Drumlanrig Castle

  • Where: Dumfries & Galloway
  • Route: The Castle Round
  • Distance: 5.2 miles/8.5km - circular route
  • Start/Finish: Drumlanrig Castle
  • Grade: Easy (green-graded)
  • Terrain, gradients and access: forest tracks and parking is available at Drumlanrig Castle.

Time to go off-road! This route circles through the beautiful grounds of Drumlanrig Castle, passing breathtaking scenery and woodlands, the Druids Loch and Drumlanrig's heather houses.

As you return to the castle, you will be cycling the exact same route as Kirkpatrick Macmillan, who is credited by many as inventing the bicycle and rode the world's first pedal bicycle to Glasgow.

There are shorter green routes available, which can be enjoyed on most bikes and hybrids, or you can hire a bike at Rik's Bike Shed. The 10-mile Kirkpatrick Loop, starting at Drumlanrig Castle, is also a great beginner and family-friendly route and there are also blue, red and black routes available here for more advanced bikers.

Follow the Castle Round.

10. Callendar Estate Trails

Where: Falkirk
Route: Canada Trail - green route
Distance: 2.5 miles/4km - circular route
Start/Finish: Greenrig Car Park, Callendar Estate
Grade: Easy (green-graded)
Terrain, gradients and access: woodland trails, no steep hills and optional boardwalk. Parking is available at Greenrig Cycles.

The trails at Callendar Estate wind through lovely woodland and are family-friendly and safe one-way routes, which are ideal for most bikers. The trailhead is just three miles from the centre of Falkirk.

The Canada Trail is a lovely flowing off-road route with no steep sections, just gentle and fun ups and downs and there’s an optional wee board walk section if you want to test your skills.

When you feel confident enough, you can combine the Canada Trail with the more demanding blue-graded two-mile Craigieburn Trail. Take your own bike or hire one at Greenrig Cycles and refuel at the Café at Canada Wood

Follow the Callendar Estate routes.

Visit the Sustrans website to learn more about the National Cycle Network in Scotland and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland offers lots of routes information for mountain biking all over Scotland.