5 great scottish bike routes


courtesy of Evans

Scotland is famed for its fantastic scenery, islands, hills, mountains and get-away-from it all feel. There are also plenty of roads that offer great routes for quiet cycling. Why not pick one of our favourite cycle routes in Scotland and head off for a day or two of fabulous touring?

Lochs & Glens North

Start: SECC, Glasgow
Finish: Ness Bridge, Inverness
Distance: 214 miles

This route follows the NCN (National Cycle Network) Route 7. It is a mix of roads and traffic-free paths. The ride takes you through both of Scotland’s acclaimed national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms, with a huge variety of beautiful countryside and wildlife.

You’ll also pass six lochs, multiple castles and cycle over the famous Glen Ogle viaduct. The route has its fair share of long climbs but equally, there are some great descents.

With more than 200 miles to cover you can split the journey into day-long sections or decide just to ride some of the routes in a day and return to the start by public transport. Be sure to book ahead if you want to reserve a bike space on a train. SeeSustrans

 

Lochs Glens Sunfall Lock Lomond

 

Five Ferries Bike Ride

Start/Finish: CalMac ferry terminal at Ardrossan, Ayrshire.
Distance: 71 miles

A legendary bike ride is this island-hopping route on Scotland’s west coast.

The route, as the name suggests, includes five short ferry crossings and 4 cycle sections across the mainland of Scotland.

Many people ride the route in one day, which is possible if you time the ferries and your cycling carefully. Alternatively, you can take your time and overnight on the islands.

A CalMac ferry takes you from the mainland at Ardrossan to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, where you cycle 15 miles to Lochranza. The next ferry heads to Claonaig on the Kintyre Peninsula.

From Claonaig to Tarbet is 10.5 miles before a ferry to Portavadie on the Cowal Peninsula. The ride to Colintraive is 19 miles and includes a long hill climb with fabulous views over the Kyles of Bute.

Another ferry journeys to Rhubodach on the Isle of Bute and then you ride 8 miles to Rothesay. The last ferry of this trip heads to Wemyss Bay and then a bike ride of 18.5 miles back to Ardrossan. Alternatively, you could take the train from Wemyss to Ardrossan.

More details of the route at Five Ferries Cycle

Five Ferries Cycle Arran

 

Scottish Coast to Coast

Start: Annan, Dumfries & Galloway
Finish: The Forth Bridge, near Edinburgh
Distance: 125 miles

The Scottish C2C was created by the same founders as the popular English C2C this is a new waymarked long-distance route for Scotland.

It takes cyclists through the beautiful rolling countryside of southern Scotland, starting in the small town of Annan on the coast in Dumfries and Galloway and heading north through three valleys, the Annan, Tweed and Esk.

The route then reaches the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh and on to the Forth Bridge, which is one of the great wonders of the engineering world.

You could easily start the route in Edinburgh and head south to the coast of Dumfries and Galloway. See the route guide book, The Ultimate Scottish C2C Guide, priced £11.50 from Bike Ride Maps.

 

Ring of Breadalbane Road Cycle

Start/Finish: Crieff, Perth & Kinross
Distance: 100 miles (160km)

The Breadalbane “High Ground” area of Perthshire boasts breath-taking scenery and lots of lovely quiet roads. The full 100-mile route is a big undertaking in a single day although some riders will be up for the challenge.
For easier days in the saddle, split the route into a few sections over two of three days.

In the summer, an Explorer Bus allows cyclists to access different start and finish points, such as Crieff, Comrie, Killin and Aberfeldy.

See Breadalbane Road Cycling

Breadalbane Cycle Route

 

North Coast 500

Start/Finish: Inverness
Distance: 516 miles

Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66, the NC500 travels just over 500 miles in the stunning north-west of Scotland. First created for drivers, the route has become a popular goal for cyclists.
Most cyclists take a week to ride it, although others will be keen to cover it in less time.

The circular route can be completed clockwise or anti-clockwise and meanders through the counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire. Be prepared for long hill climbs and fabulous landscapes.

See NC500

NC500 Route View

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A day on the water


It doesn’t look windy but it was – well gusty windy blowing 18-35knots that is almost a doubling of wind speed. Nearby prestwick airport has a more sheltered and more stable reading 18-31.

I went out fully gimped out on my 6m kite – having the remnants of a cold which didn’t last long as a few litres of sea water flushed neti style through my nostrils …. Nice.

After an hour I was done in ….. February kiting sure makes you feel alive ….

love the way you can see the tracks - the zigzag wave riding and the long downwind jumps
love the way you can see the tracks – the zigzag wave riding and the long downwind jumps
for those that love stats
for those that love stats

Was using the New Cabrinha Tronic board (137cm twin tip) – only used it with the 6m kite so want to have some time with a 8m kite before I review it …. but it’s good

a warm,wild, wet and windy winter day


Whilst the rest of the country deals with flooding and storm damage (and I have sympathy for their plight) but we in Scotland make the most of the weather and so today was Kitesurfing day. Initial plan was too leave early and get a session in before the rain came in at 1pm but the funny thing is that when the wind is westerly the island of Arran off the coast seems to deflect the worst of the weather especially when it is howling.

Barassie beach just to the north of Troon harbour
Barassie beach just to the north of Troon harbour

Kites Best TS 8m and Best Cabo 6m – Got down later probably after 12 then rigged up. Firstly pumped up the 6m kite as it felt like a good 28-32 knots …. but then the wind lulled before i even left the grass so pumped up the 8m (now officially my big kite as i hate cruising on big kite days) and went down to the beach as the clouds passed sucking in even more wind in its tail … so ran back shoved the 8m in the car and out again on the 6m.

Wind was gusty but good 1908936_10152260919789993_1081725259_oyou can see the stats here 18knots gusting 32 when I got on the water and then for the next hour was 17 gusting 28 …. 17 was a bit low for the 6m but in the gusts it was great.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 19.18.08I took the new board down it is a Cabrinha Tronic 137 and it is amazing in the choppy conditions and with the bigger fins (than my last board) it kites a lot flatter so the spray is a bit cleaner and not one eyeful of spray into your eyes …. i love it straight off and the H1 pads and straps are fantastic so comfy.

Out with the old Slingshot Lunacy on the left and in with the new Cabrinha Tronic on the right
Out with the old Slingshot Lunacy on the left and in with the new Cabrinha Tronic on the right

I tried a few little speed sections between the waves and the board felt fast – but only 21.7 knots max so i am sure the 8m will be quicker as the Cabo sits quite deep in the window (well it is a wave kite)

 

 

Back to reality – kitesurfing in Scotland is more brutal sometimes …


Recently i was in Cape Verde kitesurfing and although the weather gods failed to line up for me (and I lost a GoPro 3 when the shoddy mount broke and it sank to the bottom of the ocean) – the temp was great and the chap i made friends with said 2 days later saw 25knots and waves breaking outside the bay with clean sections in between …. aaaah well

in Cape Verde with board shorts only
in Cape Verde with board shorts only

then it was back to Scotland and winter and i was up in Lewis (part of the outer Hebrides) for the New Year. The wind gods were present and we saw squall after winter squall arrive.

that is wind
that is wind

and I sat in the cottage looking out the window as hard rain drilled against the panes of glass and thought ‘c’mon January – I have got to do this’

So I did. Forecast was big so rigged up my new Best Cabo 6m kite (it is a 2013 model but discount made it a good buy) had to adjust the lines slightly and then i headed out.

fully gimped out
fully gimped out – although the weather doesn’t look bad it was blowing 35knots at this time – look at the kite lines GRESS BEACH

And it was great.

BEST CABO

Such a good kite – a 3 strut kite that is very easy on the bar and it behaves perfectly. Steering quite quick but if on a wave you can kite one handed and the kite has a great drift so it never stalls. Threw it back about 5 times for a jump and it jumps easily as well if not better than my old Best Waroo (which has always been a favourite of mine)

I was only out for 40min so this is by no means a review but i am very pleased with it at the moment. This and the new Best TS 2014 8m means i am covered from 20 – 40+ knots (the only weather I like)

Temp wasn’t bad and with a great Snugg wetsuit, booties, gimp hood and gloves I was sorted. I came off the water boiling (although i only really wiped out twice. The inside of the wetsuit was practically dry. There would have been more photos but the driving rain kept the princess in the car ….. I just played in the waves down to the car park where she moved down to – but the kite was great at going back upwind too …..

not very far, fast or long but great still
not very far, fast or long but great still

good bye for a week


i am off to Cape Verde for a week of Kitesurfing …. hopefully a lot of this …

and some of this

(in my dreams)

We will soon see as i have my older GoPro 2 and a newer GoPro 3 Black edition with me …… some lighter winds but 4 days look good ..

 

New kites for new holiday


Ordered some new kites to go with the cheapie holiday I booked to Cape Verde. Realised it might be time as I came in Saturday with my Waroo 7m and realised it was from 2007 and a wee bit tired and jellyfishing with age ….best_ts_kite_v2_alt_4

best of all – one pump

bestkites-ts-v2-2013

not sure what colour as I have ordered older 2013 kites and not the new 2014 V3 one – Savings

Performance for All

  • HIGH PERFORMANCE CROSSOVER KITE
  • RIDE OPTIMIZED OPEN-C PLATFORM
  • RESPONSIVE UNHOOKED HANDLING
  • UNLIMITED VERSATILITY
  • STABLE IN ALL CONDITIONS

If your sessions take in unhooked new school, freeride and even some wave riding then the TS is made for you. Built with our Double Core RS canopy fabric the TS v2 delivers amazing crossover performance with the focus firmly on new school and unhooked performance.

The 5m and 6m TS sizes are the perfect high wind kites. Their Ride Optimized open-c platform delivers rock solid stability, predictable handling and broad sweet spot to help you conquer any conditions. The 7m – 12m sizes let you express your style in the air and on any wave. Responsive unhooked steering, light bar feel and great jumping ability ensure the TS remains the favorite sizes for new school riding- it’s the most versatile SLE kite in our 2013 line-up.

For light wind riding and racing, the 15m and 17m TS kites are the most aerodynamically refined and popular light wind kites we’ve ever made. The largest TS sizes will keep you riding after everyone else has packed up for the day.

DESIGNER’S VISION:

“Performance for all – With the TS v2 I wanted to provide high performance riding in every category for every rider. We’ve managed to squeeze more speed from each size and reduce bar pressure on every kite; it’s incredibly fun to ride.”
— Peter Stiewe


A short bridle gives you precise, direct handling with plenty of feedback. A single, self-adjusting front bridle tow point helps provide the stability, low end power and upwind ability that you need to perform.

Every TS is shaped and tuned to deliver incredible crossover performance. 5m-12m sizes are created for unhooked Freestyle and Freeride while the 15m and 17m sizes deliver unbelievable light wind and racing performance.

Double Core Rip-stop has twice as many reinforcing fibers woven into the warp and well as standard Ripstop fabrics – giving you twice the performance with no weight penalty. A BEST Exclusive.

There are no shortcuts to creating lasting durability; we use the highest quality materials and most advanced construction techniques to build kites that are truly Surf Tough and the match of conditions anywhere in the world.

TS_V2_SPECS

ordered a 6m and an 8m as I hate light wind kiting ….. this should cover me from 18-35 knots.