scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

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

Postby ambodach » 28 Apr 2019, 4:35pm

The Mull Rally is certainly to be avoided but is in October not June. I leave the island for the duration. From Tarbet northwards the A82 on Loch Lomond is certainly best avoided unless very early morning. There seems to be a daily RTC mainly around Inveruglas. Best to stay further west and follow the cycle route from Mull of Kintyre.

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

Postby bogmyrtle » 28 Apr 2019, 6:33pm

Apologies. It's Dunoon on 22June.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

patrick1967
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby patrick1967 » 29 Apr 2019, 6:32pm

Great information. Thanks so much! From what I'm gathering, my initial routes have problems with (a) heading east from Glencoe - i.e., leaving Sustrams's Rt. 78 around Glencoe / Ft. Williams to connect to Sustram's Rt. 7 (due to high trafficked roads such as A82) and (b) midges in the West (my understanding of "the West" is a little vague).

As I am a novice midge entomologist, any thoughts on the following would be appreciated:

- Anybody have any experience / thoughts about midge issues along Sustram's Rt. 7 (e.g., from Balloch to Pitlochry)?

- Is the midge problem significantly reduced between the midge female birth cycles?

- Will midges be less prevalent in areas hugging shoreline? I've seen conflicting info that the Islands and western Highlands are the hard hit midge areas, but I've also seen info that island breezes keep midges down.

irc - thanks so much for the detailed route suggestion.

James - thanks for the recommendation for the bike rental place. It was very helpful. My google search terms apparently do not line up with those used by locally.
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Paulatic
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Paulatic » 29 Apr 2019, 10:23pm

Visiting Scotland and meeting the midgies is part of the long lasting experience. :D
Midgies like dull, damp, and windless days they also enjoy mornings and evenings.They don’t cycle, except slowly in forests, but join you as soon as you stop cycling The only quiet season is predominantly winter. Full sun and also a breeze and they aren’t usually a problem hence the reason coastal areas are often free from.
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Navrig
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Navrig » 30 Apr 2019, 8:56am

Unfortunately the predicting of midge activity is not that accurate. AS you will be aware this type of monster rely on water for hatching and hence they can appear anywhere near standing water. That could be a loch or it could just be an area of sodden peatland, neither of which are hard to find in the Scottish highlands. Hence the proliferation of midges in Scotland. A cold/dry winter helps. A dry spring and summer also help as fewer hatch.

How you will react to them is difficult to tell until you have experienced them. They are not like mosquitoes where you can squash that one in your room/tent and know you should be OK. They are more like a mist of niggling little bites which cumulatively can be annoying or painful and/or excruciatingly itchy. My wife is annoyed by them. I react very badly and scratch like mad resulting in sores.

The worst I have experienced was at a particular campsite on Arran but I would not deter you from visiting Arran. It is a most beautiful place and worth a visit with quiet roads great for cycling. We spent a few days there last year cycling in the south. As last year was hot and dry the midge population was down but the clegg population was up. (https://www.scotslanguage.com/articles/view/id/4801) There is always something that will get you.

If you or your kids react to bites then I suggest you start taking a daily antihistamine about 2 weeks before you leave home and continue taking them until a week after getting back. Lots of people recommend Avon Skin So Soft as an anti-midge application. Works for some and not for others.
Image

I would also recommend sticking to the south west corner of Scotland for your first trip. A number of reasons:

Bike hire should be easy in Glasgow
Arran is generally accessible from Glasgow
Arran is fantastic
Ferry from Arran (Lochcranza) to Mull of Kintyre (Claonaig) is easy - just roll up with your bikes
Cycling and scenery on Mull of Kintyre is lovely - quiet roads which are safe (hilly)
Easy to get back to Glasgow
Well away from the North Coast 500 (Google that for info) which is too busy for a family cycle trip IMHO

As far as the "west" is concerned that generally refers to the west coast of Scotland which is well known for its natural beauty and attractions along its entire length although west coast often refers to the northerly parts of the west coast. However Scotland is also beautiful inland both in the west and the east.

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

Postby irc » 30 Apr 2019, 12:45pm

As long as you are not camping I wouldn't be concerned with the midgies. A light breeze keeps them down. Even walking speed is enough, usually, that they aren't biting you. They don't tend to go indoors so not an issue after you have stopped for the day. If you were camping I'd suggest trying to get to Scotland first 2 weeks in May. Pre midge but late enough in the spring for long daylight and a good chance of nice weather.

They are less of a problem in the drier east . So a tour around the Cairngorms and Moray Coast area would be less of a problem midgie wise.. There is some nice quiet roads in that area. Aviemore is a big outdoor centre. Bike hire available including tandem in Inverness. Going east along the north coast from Inverness and up to Tomintoul then back to Inverness via Aviemore has possibilities.

https://www.tickettoridehighlands.co.uk ... erness.php

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/pag ... 03819&v=6Y

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

Postby Paulatic » 30 Apr 2019, 1:04pm

irc wrote: They don't tend to go indoors so not an issue after you have stopped for the day.

:lol: :lol: :lol: if you keep the doors and windows shut. I speak from the experience of a hill shepherd in Scotland for 30+ years. The only windows we dared open had muslin pinned to the frame with no gaps.
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irc
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby irc » 30 Apr 2019, 1:42pm

Paulatic wrote:
irc wrote: They don't tend to go indoors so not an issue after you have stopped for the day.

:lol: :lol: :lol: if you keep the doors and windows shut. I speak from the experience of a hill shepherd in Scotland for 30+ years. The only windows we dared open had muslin pinned to the frame with no gaps.


True. I've seen the windows at Lochranza hostel years ago with fine mesh over them clogged with the buggers. But in general I've never found a problem in bothies or hostels. Hopefully the OP will be lucky. I was on Jura in mid June a couple of years ago and able to sit outside in the hotel garden with a beer after 8pm with short sleeves and no repellent.

patrick1967
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby patrick1967 » 30 Apr 2019, 1:50pm

Thanks for all the info and suggestions. Appreciate the midge advice.

My current thinking is a modified version of the suggestion from irc and then train over (may require detachable pull bike rather than tandem for train) to the east area for a loop ride around Stirling. See map route.

For anyone looking for planning bike tours of Scotland and wanting flexibility, scots cycle gives nice pickup and drop off options: https://www.scotcycle.co.uk/cycle-hire-
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Navrig
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby Navrig » 30 Apr 2019, 2:15pm

Looks good. The nearest station at Glencoe is a few miles away (Fort William or Bridge of Orchy) and will involve the A82 which can be busy.

patrick1967
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Re: scotland cycle tour suggestions - first time to scotland

Postby patrick1967 » 30 Apr 2019, 5:12pm

Thanks

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

Postby bogmyrtle » 30 Apr 2019, 5:16pm

patrick1967 wrote:Thanks for all the info and suggestions. Appreciate the midge advice.

My current thinking is a modified version of the suggestion from irc and then train over (may require detachable pull bike rather than tandem for train) to the east area for a loop ride around Stirling. See map route.

For anyone looking for planning bike tours of Scotland and wanting flexibility, scots cycle gives nice pickup and drop off options: https://www.scotcycle.co.uk/cycle-hire-

I'm confused. Where are you picking up the bikes from? None of those pick up points are anywhere near Ardrossan.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

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

Postby durhambiker » 7 May 2019, 1:30pm

Navrig wrote:Unfortunately the predicting of midge activity is not that accurate. AS you will be aware this type of monster rely on water for hatching and hence they can appear anywhere near standing water. That could be a loch or it could just be an area of sodden peatland, neither of which are hard to find in the Scottish highlands. Hence the proliferation of midges in Scotland. A cold/dry winter helps. A dry spring and summer also help as fewer hatch.

How you will react to them is difficult to tell until you have experienced them. They are not like mosquitoes where you can squash that one in your room/tent and know you should be OK. They are more like a mist of niggling little bites which cumulatively can be annoying or painful and/or excruciatingly itchy. My wife is annoyed by them. I react very badly and scratch like mad resulting in sores.

The worst I have experienced was at a particular campsite on Arran but I would not deter you from visiting Arran. It is a most beautiful place and worth a visit with quiet roads great for cycling. We spent a few days there last year cycling in the south. As last year was hot and dry the midge population was down but the clegg population was up. (https://www.scotslanguage.com/articles/view/id/4801) There is always something that will get you.

If you or your kids react to bites then I suggest you start taking a daily antihistamine about 2 weeks before you leave home and continue taking them until a week after getting back. Lots of people recommend Avon Skin So Soft as an anti-midge application. Works for some and not for others.
Image

I would also recommend sticking to the south west corner of Scotland for your first trip. A number of reasons:

Bike hire should be easy in Glasgow
Arran is generally accessible from Glasgow
Arran is fantastic
Ferry from Arran (Lochcranza) to Mull of Kintyre (Claonaig) is easy - just roll up with your bikes
Cycling and scenery on Mull of Kintyre is lovely - quiet roads which are safe (hilly)
Easy to get back to Glasgow
Well away from the North Coast 500 (Google that for info) which is too busy for a family cycle trip IMHO

As far as the "west" is concerned that generally refers to the west coast of Scotland which is well known for its natural beauty and attractions along its entire length although west coast often refers to the northerly parts of the west coast. However Scotland is also beautiful inland both in the west and the east.

Lol....indeed,,they make mozzies seem positively delightful little creatures!