scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
patrick1967
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scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby patrick1967 » 26 Apr 2019, 8:24pm

Hi Everyone,

I'm planning my first trip to Scotland the second half of June with my three sons (yrs. 21, 18 and 9). 14 to 16 days. My plan is to tour the first week by bike and then fill in the second week with St. Andrews / Edinburgh / figure it out. May or may not keep the bikes for the second week, but plan on a less active second week. Flying in and out of Glasgow. So I would love suggestions / feedback for planning the first week of cycling (and if I should keep bikes for second week too). [Suggested information about our abilities, etc., provided below.]

Basically, I am trying to follow the recommendations of visiting Scotland by Rick Steves while doing at least the first half as a bike tour. I hope I can be pretty flexible with planning and have a general idea of what to do, but then make decisions a day or two ahead of time.

Any feedback is appreciated, but my general questions are:

(1) for 6 or 7 day biking tour, at 50 miles a day (more possible if flat), what are your recommendations? Looking for a variety of countryside / towns mixed in with good historical touring spots. See my initial thoughts below.
(2) In doing a loop tour for a week, any recommendation for a starting point (e.g., with a decent bike rental shop)? Or does it make more sense to keep bikes for two weeks (with less biking the second week)?
(3) Outer Hebrides and some mountain biking options look great. But I'm thinking time for Outer Hebrides would exclude other options and mountain biking with my 9 year old would be an issue.


Based on my current research, I see a few options:

(a) Short loop: From Glasgow => Stirling => Loch Lomond => Pitlochry [maybe side trip to Braemar] => Dundee ? => St. Andrews [extended stay] => Edinburgh

This seems to be a very nice loop with lots great nature and history. At St. Andrews, we could keep the bikes for day trips. But, I wonder if it is too short and it skips some nice touring of Western Scotland (e.g., Oban, Glencoe, Isle of Skye) and Inverness.

(b) Long loop (likely supplement with train hops): Glasgow => Loch Lomond => Oban [break to see some islands of Inner Hebrides] => Glencoe / Fort William [Sustrans Rt. 78 (which I think is along the Caledonian canal) to Inverness] => St. Andrews [with stops in between to be determined, such as Braemar, Pitlochry, Dundee... ]

My guess this is too much to do and I suspect that Rt. 78 / Caledonian canal to Inverness might get a little monotonous (or at least provide less variety per length than other options).

I'm also thinking getting from Inverness to St. Andrews might be a little too hilly (for the tandem). Not sure.

(c) Merge some or all of short loop (a) with Oban and Isle of Skye

Thinking Glasgow => Stirling => Pitlochry => Loch Lomond => Oban [break to see some islands of Inner Hebrides] => Glencoe / Fort William => Isle of Skye ... public transport back to St. Andrews. This could be stretched out and we wouldn't need to complete the biking portion in 6 days.

This seems to provide a good variety of touring. Would miss out on Inverness and surrounding area.

Thanks for your feedback!

Patrick


Per forum suggestion:

1) Abilities: in decent shape (as with 21 and 18 year old sons) - planning on using a tandem for my 9 year old.
2) Types of bike(s) and proposed terrain; - road tour bikes (tandem for accommodating 9 year old). very lightweight gear (e.g., one hiking bag per person, no camping equipment).
3) Length of tour (time and or miles); - 6 days +/- [flexible]; 50 miles a day is very doable (not taking major hills or wind into account)
4) Accommodation planned (camp/B&B/hostel/hotel etc.); B&B / hotel
5) Food (self catering/eating out); eating out for dinner, breakfast and lunch is daily grocery purchases (e.g.)
6) Health - no health issue, better than average cardio.

I was very happy to find this cycling forum. Great advice!

LollyKat
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby LollyKat » 26 Apr 2019, 10:25pm

"Train hops" are a good idea in principle BUT Scotrail will not carry tandems. See Scotrail's Bikes on trains.

Where are you flying from? I presume you are hiring the bikes?

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Paulatic
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Paulatic » 27 Apr 2019, 8:17am

Have you found somewhere to hire suitable bikes?
Have you thought about heading Sth on R7 to Newton Stewart > Dumfries> back up to Edinburgh then take in some of your short loop?
You might find the West and Islands will eat up a lot of time and, unless you’ve booked, accommodation might be difficult.
Whatever I am, wherever I am, this is me. This is my life

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bogmyrtle
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby bogmyrtle » 27 Apr 2019, 10:58am

You might want to look at the availability and cost of bike hire before deciding on a route. Something circular is probably best so the bikes can be easily returned.
Until you get this sorted out and you know your starting point I don't see how you can begin to have any idea what is going to be practical.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

Jamesh
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Jamesh » 27 Apr 2019, 12:21pm

Ferry across from greenock to Dunoon?
Then quiet roads up to Glencoe, fort William, climb Ben nevis? and back via loch lomond?

Cheers James

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Cunobelin
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Cunobelin » 27 Apr 2019, 12:59pm

Thinking of the younger rider... The Firth and Forth route is flatter and friendlier than some of the alternatives.

If you go West to East, you have the Scottish Borders through to Berwick, if you go t'other way then you have the Lochs and Glens in each direction.

Ivor Tingting
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Ivor Tingting » 27 Apr 2019, 2:05pm

As Mr Bridger says to Charlie Croker in the Italian job.
"All ready to go Croker?"
"Yes Mr Bridger."
"The plans have been worked out the last detail?"
"Yes Mr Bridger."
"Everything been taken care of?"
"Yes Mr Bridger."
"Well Croker, you've over looked one thing. The Midges. They'll be waiting for you!"
"Zat is ze reel prowoking qwestion Mr Paxman." - Peer Steinbruck, German Finance Minister 31/03/2009.

patrick1967
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Joined: 26 Apr 2019, 7:04pm

Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby patrick1967 » 27 Apr 2019, 7:33pm

Thank you all for the advice! I would have really been stuck if I had planned on taking the train back from a long one-way out! Thanks LollyKat!

I'm coming in from the U.S. to Glasgow - assume renting bikes in Glasgow will be most efficient - any recommendations appreciated. [internet research still underway, but I am getting mostly shops selling bikes]. Doesn't have to be Glasgow if it made sense to start and end our loop somewhere else (e.g. Stirling or Edinburgh).

Paulatic - does your reference to "West" and "Islands" refer to areas around Oban / Glencoe or further out (e.g., Isle of Skye)?

As far as the trip, I have several loops in mind, one in line with Jamesh's recommendation to take the ferry to Dunoon to Oban/Glenoe) (thanks Jamesh), one via Arran to Oban/Glencoe, and a figure 8-ish "loop". See images attached? Any of these look significantly better or worse than others?

Any thoughts of preferred route from Glencoe back east? The climb outside of Glencoe looks a bit tough, but I'll have my older boys to help out with the tandem. I randomly selected Glencoe to Tyndrum as the bike route from Tyndrum to Pitlochry looks interesting.

Thanks!
Image Attachments
Figure 8 loop.png
loop Dunoon.png
loop Arran.png

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Paulatic
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Paulatic » 27 Apr 2019, 8:09pm

I was referring to going further west onto Hebrides and waiting for and timing for ferries will eat into your daily milage. I’m heading that way in a couple of weeks.
Your posted routes show Glencoe to Tyndrum A82. I last cycled that 18 years ago and it wasn’t too pleasant then. You’ll find a lot of comment here If I was doing it would be at 4am.
As a taster of Islands have you considered the five ferries
I’d start talking to cycle shops now regarding hire especially for a tandem. The only hire tandem I know, I’m not near Glasgow btw, is at Drumlanrig Castle https://www.facebook.com/riksbikeshed/ but it won’t be a luggage carrier.
Whatever I am, wherever I am, this is me. This is my life

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Jamesh
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Jamesh » 27 Apr 2019, 9:10pm

This chaps seems approachable

http://www.cyclerepairman.co.uk/Tandem- ... re/I19.htm

Hybrids also to hire.

Close enough for a taxi from the airport.

Cheers James

bogmyrtle
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby bogmyrtle » 28 Apr 2019, 8:02am

With regard to islands, if you were to collect bikes in Ayrshire it would make sense to include Arran and the Mull of Kintyre in your route. But be prepared for hills.
Beautiful though Skye is, it is particularly busy with traffic and not a particularly relaxing cycling experience, especially for a group of cyclists, also accommodation is hard to find. If you are going as far as Oban and want to include an island, consider Mull. It's not too long a ferry journey and it gives the option of accessing Iona and the Ardnamurchan peninsula but again be prepared for hills.
Edit. Avoid Mull 22 June as Mull Rally is taking place.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

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al_yrpal
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby al_yrpal » 28 Apr 2019, 8:22am

West coast = midges in June. Avoid! Otherwise plenty of Deet...

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

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Cunobelin
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Cunobelin » 28 Apr 2019, 10:09am

Jamesh wrote:This chaps seems approachable

http://www.cyclerepairman.co.uk/Tandem- ... re/I19.htm

Hybrids also to hire.

Close enough for a taxi from the airport.

Cheers James



Totally off topic, but that link made me smile:


Oldjohnw
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Oldjohnw » 28 Apr 2019, 10:48am

I fear both the A82 and Lch Lomond are suicidal.

Arran is a lovely place to spend a few days.
John

irc
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby irc » 28 Apr 2019, 12:19pm

If hiring bikes in Ayrshire I think the suggestions for Arran are good.

Day 1 A day to get to Arran after hiring bikes. Plenty accomodation in Brodick

Day 2 Clockwise round the coast, a night at Lochranza.

Day 3 Ferry to Claonig and up over the hill and visit/lunch at Tarbert. Ferry to Islay.

Day 4 Day on Islay, maybe day trip to Jura.

Day 5 12.15 departure for scenic 4 hour ferry to Oban This ferry is Wednesday and Saturday only. So trip would need to be booked round either day on this ferry.

https://www.calmac.co.uk/oban-colonsay- ... -timetable

Day 6 Oban to Lochgilphead. 50 miles. Avoiding main A road. Carry plenty food. Not sure if you will see a shop al day. Very quiet road.


Untitled2.jpg


Day 6. Lochgilphead to Tarbert via scenic coastal route avoiding too long on main A road. Ferry to Portavadie. Either staying at Portavadie Hotel (Lodge Room 6 is a great room with view over Loch) or over the hill to Tighnabruiach with choice of hotels.42 miles to Tighnabruiach. 1 ferry. Option of shortcut down main road if weather bad or any other issue. This section of road has enough traffic to require concentration and not watching views. Busiest section of this tour apart from any possible route on mainland.

gg.jpg


Day 7 To Largs via the Isle of Bute and you are back in Ayrshire. 36 miles and 2 ferries.

If the bike hire place delivers bikes to you I'd suggest getting them delivered to Ardrossan and just starting from there.