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Top 10 cycling routes

It’s amazing how much land you can cover on two wheels. Here are our picks of some of the most amazing cycle routes across Scotland. 

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  • VisitScotlandVisitScotland Administrator
    Routes 1 - 5

    1. 4 Abbeys, Scottish Borders
    This circular route links the Scottish Borders’ four famous abbeys at Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh. Follow this 55-mile scenic route through the glorious Borders countryside and cycle past years of colourful history. 
    2. Ayrshire Coast Cycle Way 
    From Irvine to Ayr, this 19-mile route takes in some of Ayrshire’s most picturesque scenery, from the sparkling coastline with views across to the Isle of Arran to the thriving woodland of two Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves, Gailes Marsh and Shewalton Wood. 

    3. Lerwick to Scalloway, Shetland  
    Travel from Shetland’s main town of Lerwick to the ancient capital of Scalloway. Soak up the stunning island scenery as you cut through a ridge of hills and cross wild moorland before being rewarded with panoramic views of Scalloway and the swirling seas.
    4. North Coast 500, the Highlands 
    This hotly-anticipated driving route is also cycle-friendly. You can do the whole thing over six days cycling around 60 miles per day, or choose whatever part of the route you like and take it at your own pace. From the city of Inverness to the sands of Gairloch in the north west, you’ll pass by all of the north coast’s incredible scenery and attractions. 

    5. Helix Around Town Cycle Route, Falkirk
    This 16-mile route shows off all of Falkirk’s best bits, and you can grab a map from the visitor centre at the Helix. Starting there, it takes you past the Falkirk Wheel and Callendar Park. You weave through glens and woodlands, using peaceful cycle ways and towpaths, making it perfect for family bike rides.  
  • VisitScotlandVisitScotland Administrator
    Routes 6 - 10

    6. Hebridean Way, Outer Hebrides 
    The Hebridean Way, stretching from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis, is a momentous long-distance cycling challenge. Travel through these beautiful islands, taking in sites such as the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse along the way.

    7. Water of Leith, Edinburgh  
    Cycling in the capital is not the noisy, busy experience you might imagine. Edinburgh is a cycle-friendly city, with several cycle paths keeping you away from cars and other road users. Follow the Water of Leith path from the New Town to the Shore in Leith, and have a rest at one of the cafés by the water. 
    8. Applecross and the Bealach na Bà (Applecross Peninsula Route)
    Challenge yourself to the road climb at the Bealach na Bà, the UK’s highest tarmac road which lies at a lofty 626 m. After pedalling up this mighty hill and passing the imposing mountain peaks of the Applecross Peninsula, reward yourself with a pint at the end in the Applecross Inn.
    9. Up the Tay, Perth
    This gentle ride (National Cycle Network, Route 77) from Perth to Dunkeld takes you past Scone Palace and along the River Tay. A lovely easy ride with no major climbs, you can even catch the train back to your starting point.
    10. Glasgow Waterways Loop, Glasgow 
    Enjoy a quick urban bike ride around some of Glasgow’s historic waterways, including the River Clyde, the Glasgow City Branch Canal and the River Kelvin. Look out for some of the city’s impressive architecture as you go, as well as picturesque places including the Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow Botanic Gardens. 

    What about you?
    There are many more cycle routes, taking you past some of Scotland’s finest scenery, historic sites and attractions.
     
    What are your favourite cycles in Scotland? Share your thoughts and pictures in this thread.
  • Samantha_GrantSamantha_Grant VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    We've decided to hire bikes on Iona when we're there next in September. As hikers two wheels isn't our usual mode of getting around but we reckon virtually car free Iona is the perfect location for us to hop on the saddle. Watch out Iona!! 
    I'm a Scottish travel blogger and freelance writer with an extensive knowledge of travelling in Scotland.  I'm always on the road exploring my wonderful country.  I love remote places, history and the great outdoors. 




  • edinbugedinbug Member ✭✭
    The Innocent Railway and Holyrood Park is another cracking cycling route in Edinburgh. The city is super bike friendly and there are a couple of tour companies who would be more than willing to show you around on two wheels! 

    You can read more about cycling in Edinburgh on This is Edinburgh: http://thisisedinburgh.com/discover/my-edinburgh/cycling/
  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    @Samantha_Grant - there aren't many roads on Iona and it doesn't take long to walk from one end of the island to the other but it is certainly a great way to see the things. 
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

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  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    Thanks for posting all those cycle routes @VisitScotland - today I have been to order bikes and hopefully by next weekend will be pedaling about! Very excited.... 
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

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  • VisitScotlandHeatherVisitScotlandHeather Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    @FullStopNextChapter - that is exciting! Keep us up to date with where you go and what you see!!
  • EwanEwan VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭

    The 10 routes listed above are a great selection - but there are many more.  When I cycled LEJOG last year we decided to take a scenic west coast route when we reached Scotland which involved lots of ferries.  We hopped over Arran (which is a great cycling island BTW - the loop is well worth doing) and then followed NCN 78 up through Argyll to Ballachulish.  NCN 78 is a new cycle path and probably the best we encountered along the full 1,000 miles; smooth tarmac, quiet, great views.


    You can find our LEJOG route and lots of info and photos in my LEJOG Guide.

    In August this year we're doing a tour of Mull, hopping on another ferry to Ardnamurchan, then up to the white beaches of Arisaig before taking the Hogwarts Express (sorry, the Jacobite) steam train from Mallaig to Fort William and home.  This will take us 3 days.  We were initially planning to cycle C2C but thought this route much more inspiring !

    Exploring Scotland's wild places by foot, bike and camper van

    WildaboutScotland blog | Twitter

  • WinnieWinnie Member ✭✭
    I would recommend Arisaig to Mallaig if you're on a road bike or cyclocross bike. A fantastic, hilly route that passes through some outstanding scenery. As you leave Arisaig heading north you'll cycle alongside white sandy beaches that are breathtaking (they were used for the film Local Hero). The road is in good condition and traffic free which makes a huge difference. The return trip is 36km in total so very achievable for a morning or afternoon ride.  It's worth noting that on a map it looks like you have to cycle on a busy road for the last couple of miles into Mallaig but the good news is that they've created a great cycle path that is wide and ideal for all bikes. When we cycled this route a couple of weeks ago we got sunny weather and were able to sit outside for lunch when we arrived in Mallaig and eat fresh seafood. On the return journey we saw the Jacobite steam train. All in all, a pretty perfect way to spend a day. A top tip - when you get back to Arisaig be sure to take the time to visit the community museum - it tells the story of the sea and the isles and is a real gem of a place. 
  • VisitScotlandNikkiVisitScotlandNikki Administrator, VisitScotland Staff
    Some great suggestions on cycling so far! What about another 11 spellbinding cycling routes including the Formartine and Buchan Way past Kinnaird Head Lighthouse?



    Has anybody tried any of these routes?
  • Applecross and the Bealach na ba is a firm favourite of mine. Some great hills to climb, not just the Bealach itself but the rest of the peninsula round to Shieldaig is awesome. I cycle a lot in the Trossachs and the route up over the Duke's Pass in Aberfoyle round loch Katrine and back through Stronalhlachar is great fun. Highland Perthshire has some breathtaking routes around Loch Tay and Loch Rannoch too. The Isle of Bute is fantastic for cycling round (make sure you stop to check out Mount Stuart) and you can do it as part of CalMac's Five Ferries Tour.
  • VisitScotlandLyndsayVisitScotlandLyndsay Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    The West Loch Lomond Cycle Path is a very popular route and begins in the town of Balloch at the southern end of Loch Lomond. Bike hire is available here if needed from Can You Experience. The cycle route follows the western shores of Loch Lomond passing by The Duck Bay Marina and onwards to the village of Luss 8 miles away. Luss is a very picturesque village with souvenir shops, a variety of places to eat and stunning views of Loch Lomond. Continuing the route northwards you then come to Firkin Point. The scenery here becomes more mountainous and fjord like; even more stunning views. The village of Tarbet is the last stop on the route and by this time you will have covered a total of 16 miles. The village has a restaurant, hotel and a cafe should you need refreshments and if you have time why not take a cruise on the Loch?  The cycle path is not circular and you come back the way you came, however there is a fantastic bus service that operates in the summer months, the B1,  which has a trailer attached that can carry up to 12 bikes. Here is a link to the Timetable. This service is extremely popular as it allows people of all ages to get out on their bikes to explore Loch Lomond, and should they need dropped off or picked up en route then the bus is there to help out. 
  • VisitScotlandAngelaVisitScotlandAngela Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    A couple of years ago I cycled part of the Two Lochs Tour and it was amazing. The first leg of the tour involves taking a boat across Loch Lomond from Tarbet to Inversnaid before cycling to Stronachlacher on the edge of Loch Katrine.  It was pretty steep on the way there but if you wanted to keep going there is a cycle path along the edge of Loch Katrine and you can either cyce back or return by boat.  It was raining pretty heavily that day so I decided to take a cruise on the SS Sir Walter Scott instead before cycling back downhill to Inversnaid. I also stopped to have a wee look at the Inversnaid Bunkhouse which is in an old church and the stained glass windows in the bunkhouse were pretty awesome!! The food in their bistro also smelled great too!!  :)
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