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

La weekend

Friday decided not to work and packed the pouring bike for a ride – a jolly ramble with camera, lunch, spare clothes etc.

Screenshot 2016-03-21 09.32.53

not the nicest day – and weather was close cold and misty BUT I was on the bike and had a good ride. Does pass up from aberfoyle and at the other side decided not to carry on to Callandar and instead returned along my route ….

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One of my longer rides as i rarely go more that 100km and also on the bike which i weighed on my return at 25kg … ouch. Will need to take this into account when planning my touring. Epsom salt bath on my return.

Sunday – my friend Jim called to suggest an early ride Sunday am. He has limited time now after his wife passed away 6months ago and with the two girls watching Sun morning telly he had a gap of 2 hours … so my him at his place 8:30am on what can only be described as a peach of a day. Over the Crow north I thought my fork had too much play – think the shop didn’t quite tighten it enough … so quick change and back to the top heading South

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my legs felt good so gave it some welly both sides of the crow but still 2 min down on my best times …. 2016-03-20 09.58.39

Jim was just happy at being out. Coming down the other side we are pelting along 50kmh+ when i hear jim shout ‘SHEEEEEEEPPPPP’ … brake hard … these most intelligent animals wait until you are 20ft away before dashing across the road. Past the corner speeding up and I see yet more Wooly Jumpers on suicide missions (actually more kamikaze as we would be killed) so descent is much more sedate than normal.

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Screenshot 2016-03-21 09.32.24

The Value of a good Run Ramble

This morning i dropped the girls off at their school in my running gear – I was aiming to do a 10km run (my first of the year and first in a few months) and i didn’t want to let January slip past without me completing it.

I headed out to routes quite well know and then as I was running I decided to piece together two separate parts of a run (joining a river to a canal) I ambled up the hill and then wove between streets and a makeshift park to hook the bits together …. I had to stop at one traffic light waiting to cross but otherwise it was all good fun. Small loop at the end to make sure i hit 10km and then stopped the gps at the bottom of the road as the watch said 10km.

Lovely Morning

Strava screengrab
Strava screengrab

Strava mobile gets routing (like mapmyride then)


Strava, the online network that allows you to track your rides and other athletic activity via GPS, has added routes to version 4.1 of its mobile app. The new feature allows you to import routes fromwww.strava.com into Strava’s mobile app and navigate your way around your ride.

The app also has a ‘Route Back To Start’ feature that automatically plots the most efficient path back to the beginning of your activity. That could come in handy if the weather turns against you, for example, or you have a mechanical issue and need to cut your ride short.

The Route Builder feature on www.strava.com allows you to plan rides. Strava say that it uses athlete data to recommend the roads and trails around the world that runners and cyclists use the most. The idea is that you’re getting the benefit of local knowledge wherever you happen to be. They say that millions of GPS-recorded activities uploaded to Strava inform Route Builder’s intelligence.

Once you’ve built a route, you can now follow it on the Strava mobile app (or any compatible GPS device).

It’s free to join Strava although they hope you’ll opt for Premium membership – which offers things like heart rate analysis of your rides and leaderboards that are filtered by age and weight – costing US$6 per month or $59 per year.


Glasgow and City cyclist must use Strava

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 22.29.08
Glasgow on the Strava heat map

If there was a reason to run Strava on your GPS or phone for every journey then this is it – the company are selling the info to cities to help with the planning of routes for commuting. If you are like me and use it for rides away from the city then you should make sure you have it running on your phone so that the cities that buy into it are properly informed …..


Strava has moved into the ‘big data’ game with the launch of Strava Metro, which it says gives data providing “ground truth” on where people ride bikes or go running – and it is licensing the results to city authorities and advocacy groups, including in London and Glasgow.

The San Francisco, California-based company, developer of the smartphones apps and website that allow users worldwide to track their rides and runs, says that “millions of GPS-tracked activities are uploaded to Strava every week from around the globe.

“In denser metro areas, nearly one-half of these are commutes. These activities create billions of data points that, when aggregated, enable deep analysis and understanding of real-world cycling and pedestrian route preferences.”

The popularity of using Strava on main commuter routes can clearly be seen on the map of London accompanying this article – you can find a bigger version here on the Bicycleretailer.com website – with strong levels of usage on roads such as the Embankment.

Making the data available to local transportation authorities or advocacy groups can help identify where demand for cycling, for example – and thereby the need for safe infrastructure – is strongest.

According to the company, “Strava Metro’s mission is to produce state-of-the-art spatial data products and services to make cycling, running and walking in cities better.

“Using Strava Metro, departments of transportation and city planners, as well as advocacy groups and corporations, can make informed and effective decisions when planning, maintaining, and upgrading cycling and pedestrian corridors.”

Clearly, there are bound to be privacy concerns with such a service – we’ve reported in the past, for example, concerns that thieves use rides uploaded to Strava to target where people who own high-end bikes live.

Strava has sought to allay such worries by emphasising that Strava Metro “processes the data to remove all personal information linked to the user and structures it for compatibility with classic geographical information systems (GIS) environments.”

It adds: “Strava Metro tools enable DOTs and advocacy groups to do detailed analyses and glean insights into cycling and running patterns dissected by time of day, day of week, season and local geography.

“Advocacy organisations and the general public can now access high-resolution heatmap visualisations of the data free of charge at Strava Labs.”

You can find those heatmaps here.

“Organisations seeking deeper insight and analysis can license Strava Metro data and tools for use with geographic information systems (GIS) mapping software. Licensing costs are based on the number of Strava members in the requested geographic area.”

There is an inquiry form for anyone wanting to find out more information.

The company’s co-founder and president Michael Horvath said: “Bicycling safety is a top concern to our members worldwide, especially when they’re riding through metropolitan areas with a high concentration of motor vehicle traffic.

“Strava Metro delivers an innovative way for us to serve Strava members and non-members alike by helping to make their daily commutes and weekend rides smoother and safer,” he added.

Pricing of the licensing of the data will depend on the number of Strava users in the area concerned.

According to a blog post by Reed Albergotti in The Wall Street Journal, the first local authority to sign up is the department of transportation for Oregon, which will pay $20,000 to license it for 12 months to analyse usage in Portland.

A policy analyst working for that body, Margi Bradway, said: “We’re dipping our toe into the idea of big data with this project.”

Jennifer Dill, who is a professor at Portland State University’s Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, said: “Right now, there’s no data. We don’t know where people ride bikes. Just knowing where the cyclists are is a start.”

Other customers are located in London, Glasgow, Orlando in Florida, and Alpine Shire in Victoria, Australia, although the actual bodies to have licensed the data have not been reported.

Run time

Starting training for glasgow half marathon …..

Time for my run – no wonder I feel tired – you can see where I woke up loads last night ….

Stepped out and saw the sun and that always makes the morning runs a bit easier. Ran down to glasgow green then followed a loop someone had mapped on strava and did it twice as wasn’t sure where the start or finish was and wanted to make sure it registered.
Not the quickest run but it’s been a bit and need to start stepping up the game as the Glasgow half marathon is just over a month away now …..


Give me hope ….. Vienna

I think I could fall in love with Vienna. It is organised clean and seems to have a proper approach to seasons – snow on winter then scorching summers – it is currently 32degrees.We are only away for a week but I packed my old trainers so I could do a run or 3.
This morning got up early and went over the bridge to an island in the Danube that looked nice and clear on google maps…. Ran over and figured I would head south for 30min then head back …. It is always quite amazing to run in a city and be away from the noise of it. No traffic hum, no horns blaring or engines running – just a bit of birdsong and the odd patter of runners feet. Only when I got down to the lower bridge near my turning point was there quite a. It of traffic on the bridge made louder by the previous absence.
The day was already heating up a fair bit and the puddles from the rain were all but disappearing. My pace was a slow 5m-km but a nice 13km run in my hour’s allocated time.
Running back over the bridge to the Novotel I was constantly amazed by the sheer amount of commuter cyclists – it really is a case for critical mass and the proper structuring of town planning which is so hopeless in many places in the world. If only the uk would lose its fear of the marketing depts of motoring and petrochemicals and do a proper study of what works best for commuters. I don’t mean to be flippant but I have seen 3 commuters on roller blades here …. How cool is that?