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If you've been inspired to give cycle touring a go this summer, here are five great multi-day routes in Scotland for you to try out.
For some, cycle touring can be as simple as riding your bike packed with everything you’ll need for a few days, stopping when you want and pitching a tent or climbing into a bivi bag. Meanwhile, other people prefer to plan their route, set a daily mileage and know where they will stay each night. If this is your kind of cycle touring you’ll love these recommended cycle routes!
Start/finish: Inverness Full details: NC500
Billed as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66, the NC500 extends to just more than 500 miles in north-west of Scotland. First created for drivers, the route has become a popular route for cyclists.
Most will take at least week to ride it, although you could push your limits and cycle the loop in a long weekend. The circular route, which includes plenty of ups and downs, can be completed clockwise or anti-clockwise and meanders through the counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire.
Start/finish: CalMac ferry terminal, Ardrossan Full details: Five Ferries Cycle
Cycling Scotland’s west coast islands are popular with cyclists and this 70-mile Five Ferries route offers two to three days of pleasant cycle touring.
The route visits two islands, Bute and Arran, and two peninsulas, Cowal and Kintyre, and makes use of free bike carriage on CalMac ferries in between. There are many varieties of the route so you can adapt to suit your fitness and aspirations.
Start: Annan Finish: Forth Bridge
The Scottish C2C is one of the newest long-distance cycle routes and travels 125 miles through the wonderful rolling countryside of southern Scotland. You could enjoy two or three days of cycle touring on the route, which starts in the town of Annan on the Solway Firth in Dumfries and Galloway and heads through three valleys, the Annan, Tweed and Esk, and via the rolling Southern Uplands and Moorfoot Hills.
The tour finishes on the Forth of Firth, north of Edinburgh, and beneath the Forth Bridge, one of the great wonders of the engineering world.
Start: SECC, Glasgow Finish: Ness Bridge, Inverness Full details: Sustrans
The 214-mile route follows the NCN (National Cycle Network) Route 7 and travels through both of Scotland’s national parks: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms. It also passes six lochs, multiple castles and travels the Glen Ogle viaduct.
There are some long climbs, especially the ascent of the Drumochter Pass to the highest point of the route at 460m, and the ride will take three to six days to complete depending on your fitness and how many sites you plan to visit en route. You could add another 214 miles to this by cycling from Carlisle to Glasgow - see Lochs & Glens South.
Start: Castlebay, Isle of Barra Finish: Butt of Lewis Full details: The Hebridean Way
Another great Scottish island cycling adventure, this newly waymarked route travels 185 miles on the beautiful Western Isles (or Outer Hebrides).
The diverse and wildly beautiful chain of islands is sparsely populated and has quiet roads that make for great cycling. The route passes through 10 islands linked by either causeways or ferries, and explores fabulous countryside, rugged hills and skirts along dazzling Atlantic coastline. The cycling route is also National Cycle Route 780.
Head south to north if you want to enjoy a push from the prevailing south-westerly wind. If you know the wind will be heading in the opposite direction I suggest you cycle north to south.
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