Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Jockster
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Joined: 17 Mar 2013, 10:14pm

Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby Jockster » 16 Jun 2013, 9:51pm

Dear All

Has anyone cycled up the west coast of Scotland from Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver.

Just wanting to know how long it took and any advice re. camping/b-and-b. Not really interested in pushing it - more slow and easy with nice campsites etc.

Route would be
Kyle - Applecross (Night 1)
Applecross around pennisula to Loch Maree (Night 2)
Loch Maree to Ullapool (Night 3)
Ullapool to Lochinver

Thanks for any help/advice/comment etc, Simon

gloomyandy
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Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 10:46pm

Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby gloomyandy » 17 Jun 2013, 12:14pm

I assume you are aware that the route to Applecross will include climbing over the Bealach na Bà which could be pretty hard going with a bike loaded with camping gear. But having said that Applecross is a fantastic place to visit and the climb could be a lot of fun (if climbing is your thing!). The camp site at Applecross is pretty good (as is the pub). If you are planning on going further north than Lochinver (which personally is not the attractive a place), then the coast road is really nice. There is also a good camp site at Clachtoll Beach.

The Mechanic
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Joined: 23 Jul 2010, 1:38pm
Location: Scotland

Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby The Mechanic » 17 Jun 2013, 4:08pm

gloomyandy wrote:I assume you are aware that the route to Applecross will include climbing over the Bealach na Bà which could be pretty hard going with a bike loaded with camping gear. But having said that Applecross is a fantastic place to visit and the climb could be a lot of fun (if climbing is your thing!). The camp site at Applecross is pretty good (as is the pub). If you are planning on going further north than Lochinver (which personally is not the attractive a place), then the coast road is really nice. There is also a good camp site at Clachtoll Beach.


The Applecross peninsular is no pushover either, particularly in a wind with a northerly component.
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Gearoidmuar
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Location: Cork, Ireland. Corcaigh, Éire má tá Gaeilge agat.

Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby Gearoidmuar » 17 Jun 2013, 5:48pm

I did it years ago. Bealach na Ba is, as my wife's grandmother used to say, no joke of a contract!
The ride from Applecross (we stayed in the inn) to Lochinver where we stayed in, as far as I remember the Culag Hotel) was spectacular. Well worth doing. The first day we made it to Ullapool and the next day did the ride to Achiltibue on a VERY windy day and then up the "mad little road of Ross" to Lochinver. Great cycling. Then we went east via Strath Oykel..Not very interesting.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/16897255@N05/9069381238/

The only way I remember this is that I still have the map of which this is a photo. The orange routes are where I went..

rfryer
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Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby rfryer » 17 Jun 2013, 9:11pm

I've only driven it, rather than cycled, but the coastal road immediately north of Lochinver is absolutely bonkers, with some seriously steep climbs and descents. I'd definitely give it a go if I was in the area outside of the midgie season!

Jon Lucas
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Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby Jon Lucas » 18 Jun 2013, 9:20am

I have cycled this route. It goes through some spectacular scenery, definitely worth doing, though as Andy says, not sure why stop at Lochinver, as the road north from there is particularly stunning and the scenery wonderful. If you have time, and don't want to push it, I'd spend far longer doing this ride, and use the time to explore some of the dead-end roads that lead down to magical little communities along the coast.

On you first day you are proposing to spend the end of quite a long day then cycling up the longest climb in Britain to reach Applecross. The cycle from Kyle is particularly lovely, and it is worth taking some of the small detours down to places like Plockton, and I would suggest staying in Lochcarron and cycling to Applecross early the next day.

When you reach Applecross, it seems a shame not to explore the area to the south of it, which is lovely, before then cycling round the coastal road, which is hilly, remote and exposed in places, but a glorious ride. If you have time, stop off at Torridon, and for a real challenge, cycle the long dead-end to Diabaig, which I reckon is probably the hardest coastal road to cycle in Britain, but worth doing to explore this fascinating area.

I've cycled the road past Loch Maree a few times now and have never enjoyed it, it always seems to be a hard slog into the wind and rain with little to see, but unfortunately there isn't any alternative.

Gairloch round to Ullapool isn't too bad, though the area is remote and there are some long hills, especially the climb up the Desolation Road from Dundonnell. There are some very cheap bothies in this area worth staying in instead of camping, inc one at Badrallach, which is at the end of another long dead-end that climbs 1000 feet and used to lead to the ferry to Ullapool, which sadly now doesn't run.

Ullapool to Lochinver is also beautiful, and there is a lovely cafe at Inverkirkaig, which was much needed when I cycled here in torrential rain. I would take the opportunity to detour again down to Acheninver, where there is a beautifully located hostel worth staying in, with gorgeous views over the Summer Isles.

iviehoff
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Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby iviehoff » 21 Jun 2013, 1:25pm

Jon Lucas wrote:I've cycled the road past Loch Maree a few times now and have never enjoyed it, it always seems to be a hard slog into the wind and rain with little to see

I've done it in the sunshine, on an unusually warm day in April a mere 36 hrs after it snowed. In principle the view across the island-studded lake to Slioch (a distinctive craggy mountain) is wonderful, the subject of many a biscuit tin. Unfortunately the road is fringed by trees blocking the view for much of the way.

pootler
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Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby pootler » 23 Jun 2013, 9:23pm

Jon L makes some good points. My daughter and I were there last year and here are some thoughts. North of Kyle go to Plockton. There is a good independent hostel at Stromeferry but probably not far enough. Campsite, shops and bank at Lochcarron. We rode from Stromeferry to Applecross over the pass in one day. I pushed twice but rode the 3 hairpins. Campsite at Applecross good with bar and cafe for breakfast in the morning. Good inn in short walk from camp site. I found the ride north around the peninsular blooming hard work many ups and downs meant that I struggled to get a rhythm at all that day. Shops, cafe in Shieldaig also a field to camp in but it looked basic. Torridon hotel good, nice beer, didn't bat an eyelid when we walked in dripping from head to feet. Campsite at Torridon again looked basic, possible midge heaven. Scottish youth hostel in Torridon. It sells sound ready meals but NO beer if you stay. Road to Kinlochewe startling scenery. Kinlochewe has shops, hotel with bunk house, Caravan Club site here says no tents but I've seen backpackers using a small area. There is small campsite on right hand side just outside of village but I would rather wild camp. The road to Gairloch is straightforward. Go to Red point if you have time. In Gairloch there are shops, bank, B&B's, Hotel, Golf course,(presuming you have golf clubs attached to your cross bar) and a very individual coffee shop cum book shop that is well worth a visit. Further round the coast road their is another Youth Hostel followed by the Big Sand camp site. Camp site has camping pods available for about £35 per night. Road to lighthouse at end is pleasant. Good pub at Melvaig. We went home from here but the year before I had done the section from Ullapool to Lochinver. I rode the A835 then A837. Some great riding with some big hills. Coffee shop at Elphin. Lochinver has shops bank, hotels, b&b's and if you walk up the river path on the south side of the river from the bridge you can often see salmon in the river, presuming it's the right time of year. You could of course turn left at Drumrunie and follow the small road to the Summer Isles and Achilltibuie. Shop hotel Youth Hostel, campsite, smoke house all in the area in an Idyllic setting. You could buy the house that I've just seen for sale in Lochinver and stay, but really you should try and go north. Achmelvich has campsite and youth hostel and glorious sunsets. Clachtoll beach campsite. Point of Stoer, I still dream of that place. This road is altogether spectacular but harder than most things I know of.
Read the blog on the the 'Bike around around Britain' post on this part of the forum.
Sorry for going on but hope some of this helps. I'm only jealous.

Jon Lucas
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Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby Jon Lucas » 24 Jun 2013, 9:08am

pootler wrote: In Gairloch there are shops, bank, B&B's, Hotel, Golf course,(presuming you have golf clubs attached to your cross bar) and a very individual coffee shop cum book shop that is well worth a visit. Further round the coast road their is another Youth Hostel followed by the Big Sand camp site. Camp site has camping pods available for about £35 per night. Road to lighthouse at end is pleasant. Good pub at Melvaig.


The youth hostel is Carn Dearg, which is ideally sited with excellent views out to sea. If you detour along this road follow it all the way to the lighthouse (as Pootler says), at Rubha Reidh, which has a cafe and hostel within it. Along this road, as well as the Melvaig inn, is (or at least was when I rode it 8 years ago) an extraordinary cafe and rare breeds farm, isolated away from anywhere else, and worth visiting just for its eccentricity.

bikepacker
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Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby bikepacker » 24 Jun 2013, 11:23am

Must get up here myself next year (this year's tour diary is full) as I have yet to complete the coast. First time I did it for time reasons I had to miss out the Applecross Peninsular. Second time I suffered muscle damage on one of the hairpins of Bealach na Bà and had to abandon my ride.

I can only agree with the comments about the coast road north of Lochinver. The scenery is spectacular especially the coastal view from the cliff top at Drumbeg and well worth the tough ride.
Last edited by bikepacker on 24 Jun 2013, 1:37pm, edited 1 time in total.
There is your way. There is my way. But there is no "the way".

gloomyandy
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Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 10:46pm

Re: Kyle of Lochalsh to Lochinver

Postby gloomyandy » 24 Jun 2013, 1:13pm

Unfortunately the cafe at Rua Reidh Lighthouse now seems to be closed. A pity as I have fond memories of sitting there enjoying tea and cake!