Scotland is the closest a cyclist can come to heaven on earth. This part of Europe offers a variety of cycling. Everything from easy cycling along lakes, the coast and in valleys to quite hard cycling on steep mountain roads. But the cycling is never extreme hard as cycling in Norway, the Pyrennees and in the Alps.
The highest mountain roads are on around 680 meters above sea level (Aberdeen- Perth). The landscape in Scotland is normally breath taking. The road traffic is normally moderate outside the central belt (from Glasgow to Edinburgh). Most cycle tours over 100 km. offers a wide variety of cycling. Which makes cycling in Scotland highly enjoyable, wherever you go. Scotland is not recommended for families with small children. But for everyone else; Scotland is the paradise for cyclists.
The weather in Scotland can be quite bad. The mountains are quite low, but they should not be underestimated. Even on small mountains at 200 - 300 meters above sea level, the weather can be severe during the summer months. These mountains should be treated with respect.
The rest of Scotland is quite exposed, due to lack of forests. In the rural parts of Scotland (the Islands, Argyll, Galloway, the Borders and in the Highlands); the distance between shops can be tens of kilometres. Solid planning is essential for survival in those parts of Scotland.
The climate is made worse by the lack of forests and trees. Most of the climbs in Scotland are very brutal and short. They normally end with a fantastic view.
West of Scotland (Argyll and Kintyre) and the various islands have the best cycling in my view. But the Borders and the Caithness also have some fantastic cycling. The East coast of Scotland (Fife, the Inverness area, Crampians and Aberdeenshire) have some reasonable flat cycling. The mountains between Aberdeen and Inverness has some extreme hard and high hills (well, around 650 meters above sea level...) for those who are into this.
Scotland have everything for every cyclist. In my view; Scotland is paradise for cyclists. Which I will now prove to you.
The roads in Scotland are terrible. But the most terrible roads offer the best cycling. But be very careful.
An added danger to the cycling in Scotland is the midges. This pest is a gruesome, bloodletting reality and not a joke. Midge repellent spray and roll-on is an essential part of a cycling trip in Scotland. Another danger is the road kills whose litter a cyclist's path. Or even worse; some animals only respect cars and ignore cyclists. I have had countless close encounters with rabbits, fox, mice, rats, lambs, sheep, hedgehogs, red deer and cows in Scotland. The huge amount of wildlife in Scotland is very impressive, but also dangerous for cyclists. In particular, sheep and lambs are very dangerous.
The youth hostels and the B & B's in Scotland are cheap and pleasant. They normally offer very good value for money. Please book your accommodation some days before starting the cycle trip.
Most trains and ferries in Scotland takes cycles free of charge. But book in advance and check out the time tables.
Please note that the road standard in Scotland is quite bad. A cycle helmet is essential. Gloves and cycle shorts are also recommended.
You can easily cycle around Scotland with a light weight road racing bikes (racing bike). Mountain bikes are OK, but the choice of cycle is down to personal preferences.
I use a racing bike with a small rucksack. My rucksack is filled with cycle repair kit, tubes, long cycle trousers, jumper, pump, first aid kit, socks, underwear, an extra cycle shirt, bananas, map, midge repellent spray, sun oil and a mobile phone. I also wear this rucksack on 3- 7 days long trips.
I have been cycling in Scotland with and without tent. Youth hostels and B & B are so cheap (£ 10 - £ 30) that camping are not recommended. But this depends on your budget.
About the author
37 years old. 20 years experience as long distance cycling (more than 75 km a day. Yes, don't tell me. I am a SAD person). 130 kilo of fat, brain, bones and some muscles, divided on 184 cm. I never eat healthy food or diet.
I am very lazy and unorganised individual who hates training and physical exercises (which I never do), but who loves long distance cycling. In particular, do I love cycling on the most extreme hard stretches of roads in Scotland. I call my cycling programme "Hippo on two wheels". The sight of a myself in revealing cycle shorts and cycle shirts is enough to frighten the life out of anyone along the roads in Scotland. The attitude against fat people is something that need to be worked on whenever you go.
Please keep my personal profile in mind when you read my descriptions of the various cycle trips. Every opinion is subjective. A description of a cycle trip is in particular very subjective. But I have tried to avoid the most subjective excesses.
After this summer's season, I will be able to add some more cycle trips. In the pipeline: Caithness, Western Isles and more fun on the roads of Scotland.
Enjoy the read.
25. May 2001
UPDATED: 15. July 2006
List of cycle tours:
Tour # 1. Aberdeen - Alford - Aberdeen. 120 km.
Tour # 2. Stonehaven - Cairn O Mount - Aberdeen. 120 km.
Tour # 3. Elgin - Alford - Aberdeen. 125 km.
Tour # 4. Around Aberdeen. 90 km.
Tour # 5. Elgin- Banff - Aberdeen. 150 km.
Tour # 6. Dunoon - Dumbarton. 95 km.
Tour # 7. Balloch - Callander - Balloch. 120 km.
Tour # 8. Dumbarton - Loch Awe - Dumbarton190 km.
Tour # 9. Stirling - Dumbarton. 60 km.
Tour # 10. Edinburgh - Dumbarton through the Campsie Fells. 100 km.
Tour # 11. Oban - Dumbarton via Tyndrum. 130 km.
Tour # 12. Fort Williams - Glen Coe - Loch Lomond - Dumbarton. 160 km.
Tour # 13. Dumbarton- Arrochar - Dumbarton. 85 km.
Tour # 14. Isle Of Arran (clockwise) 90 km.
Tour # 15. Isle Of Mull (the northern loop). 100 km.
Tour # 16. Aberdeen - Inverness (via The Lecht). 180 km.
Tour # 17. Inverness - Fort Williams (The Great Glen). 100 km.
Tour # 18. Fort Williams - Oban. 60 km.
Tour # 19. Kyle Of Lochalsh - Uig via Dunvegan (Isle Of Skye). 140 km.
Tour # 20. Uig -Kyle of Lochalsh via Trotternish (Isle Of Skye). 115 km.
Tour # 21. Aberdeen - Ballater - Corgarff - Alford - Aberdeen. 185 km.
Tour # 22. Balloch - Fintry - Lennoxtown- Carbeth- Queens View - Balloch. 75 km.
Tour # 23. Dumbarton - Kilcreggan - Glen Fruin - Dumbarton. 75 km.
Tour # 24. Kyle Of Lochalsh - Inverness (through Glen Carron). 150 km.
Tour # 25. Balloch - Callander - Crianlarich- Balloch (The Trossachs). 165 km.
Tour # 26. Dunoon - Loch Striven- Strachur - Dumbarton (The Cowal Peninsula). 130 km.
Tour # 27. Fort Williams - Glenfinnan- Lochailort - Ardgour - Fort Williams (the Moidart tour). 125 km.
Tour # 28. Claonaig- Campbeltown - Tarbert (the Kintyre tour). 115 km.
Tour # 29. Tarbert - Portadavie- Strachur - Glasgow (Kintyre). 120 km.
Tour # 30. Newcastle - Otterburn - Hawick - Selkirk (The Borders). 130 km.
Tour # 31. Selkirk - Peebles - Motherwell - Glasgow (The Borders). 120 km.
Tour # 32. Glasgow - Kilmarnock - Dumfries - Carlisle. 130 km.
Tour # 33. Carlisle - Keswick-Penrith. 80 km.
Tour # 34. Penrith - Alston - Hexham - Newcastle. 90 km.
Tour # 35. Milngavie - Aberfoyle - Callander – Fintry - Milngavie. 115 km.
Tour # 36. Lanark - Wanlochhead – Kilmarnock - Paisley. 145 km.
Tour # 37. Rothesay – Strachur – Arrochar - Dumbarton. 130 km.
Tour # 38. Greenock – Bridge Of Weir -Paisley. 45 km.
Tour # 39. Rothesay – Loch Striven - Dunoon. 50 km.
..let's burn some rubber on the roads in Scotland. Click on the links below !!
..and look, I have even thrown in a map for you !!!