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Scotland Cycle Holiday (9 Days)

offered by supplier M20818 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 9 day(s)
Group Size: 3 - 16 people
Destination(s): Scotland  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring  
Season: May - September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 990 Pound Sterling (GBP)
Maximum Per Person Price: 990 Pound Sterling (GBP)

Enjoy traditional Scottish hospitality whilst taking in outstanding natural beauty, historic castles, ancient Celtic history and the wonders of Scottish engineering working in harmony with nature. We begin with a Hebridean Island hop, experiencing outstanding natural surroundings that have provided inspiration to the whisky islands for their varied flavours and character. The Ardrossan ferry takes us past beautiful Aran on our way to the Kintyre peninsula and on to Islay. Cycling across Jura, we catch a boat back to the mainland, follow the Crinan Canal and pass ancient ruins at Kilmartin Glen before riding the Road of the Kings through beautiful Glen Lonan. From Oban we set sail again to Mull circuiting the west side of the island through a scenery of clear blue loch waters and deep green fields, then boat again across the Sound of Mull to reach the Morvern Peninsula. A rest day at the Ardtornish Estate gives us time to enjoy wildlife, adventure activities from kayaking to diving, or more cycling in the local area. On the bikes again, we follow Loch Linne to reach Fort William. From here we join the Caledonia Way cycling the Great Glen, passing majestic Ben Nevis. We ride on minor roads, canal towpath and forested paths to Fort Augustus. To the east side of the great Loch Ness we take a lesser known route on quiet back roads to reach our final destination, highland capital city Inverness.

Itinerary:
Day 1: Ardrossan to Campbeltown.

We suggest you take a taxi from Glasgow or Prestwich airport to Ardrossan where we will meet at Lauriston Hotel at 17.00. From here we depart for the 18.40 ferry to Campbeltown. The voyage lasts about 5 hours. There is a comfortable restaurant on board, or you can go up on deck to take in the full beauty of our surroundings. Sailing past the eastern side of Aran, we can see the Holy Isle and tiny Pladda Island. Ailsa Craig (from where blue hone granite was quarried to make curling stones) is visible to the south. We journey up Campbeltown Loch passing Davaar island complete with lighthouse perched on the cliff to welcome us. We stay tonight at Craigard House Hotel on the Mull of Kintyre overlooking Campbeltown Loch. The hotel was built in 1882 as the residence of local whisky distiller, William McKersie. Once proclaimed ‘whisky capital of the world’ with 34 working distilleries, nowadays just three active distilleries remain in the town: Glen Scotia, Glengyle and Springbank, founded in 1828 by the Mitchell family. It retains old methods producing Longrow whisky and welcomes visitors by prior arrangement.

Day 2: Campbeltown to Islay.

We set off cycling northwards, after 10 miles we reach Saddell Beach. This beautiful secluded spot is where Paul McCartney filmed the video for his legendary Mull Of Kintyre song. From the shore we will see Saddell Castle. Now owned by the Landmark Trust, Robert the Bruce sought refuge in this 16th Century fortress during the Scottish Wars for Independence. We cycle on for 24 miles to Kennacraig to catch a ferry to Port Ellen on the Isle of Islay; home of the single malt whisky. There are 8 working stills on Islay. The island is also a haven to many species of birds including Golden Eagles choughs and peregrine falcons with its own RSPB sanctuary. As we leave the peninsular behind us we pass the Isle of Gigha on our left. About one hour before we reach Islay the first of the three southern whisky distilleries can be seen on the island’s east coast; this is Ardbeg. A few moments later Lagavulin can also be seen and Laphroaig is visible beyond the tiny uninhabited Isle of Texa, when we are near to disembarking. We approach Port Ellen crossing Kilnaughton; the Oa peninsula rises from the sea with impressive cliffs towering up to 200 metres above us. Also on the left is beautiful Port Ellen lighthouse.

Day 3: Islay to Cairnbaan.

Continuing our island hop we set off this morning cycling through Islay and catch another boat to Jura. We cycle coast to coast then take a private charter boat to Tayvallich, where we stop for lunch. Tayvallich faces east onto Loch a'Bhealaich and Loch Sween beyond it. Carsaig, its twin village faces west onto Carsaig Bay and the Sound of Jura. The name Tayvallich comes from Gaelic Tigh a'Bhealaich meaning "the house of the pass". A settlement is known to have existed here from at least the 1750s. This would have been a resting place on the track that ran the length of the peninsula to the Jura ferry at Keillmore. Thomas Telford built the piers at Tayvallich and at Carsaig Bay on the west side of the peninsula. Today Tayvallich has a population of about 100. A line of cottages hugs the sheltered bay. This afternoon we cycle to picturesque harbour village Crinan. Here we join a pathway that follows the Crinan Canal linking the Atlantic with Loch Fyne at Ardrishaig. Overlooking the sea for the first part, we cycle past Móine Mhór (The Great Bog) and then pass a series of locks at Cairnbaan. The route is quite level and we ride through verdant countryside. From here we turn off the canal path and continue northward. Nearby is Kilmartin Glen which contains hundreds of cup and ring marked stones, chambered cairns and stone circles dating from Neolithic/Bronze Age times. Our accommodation for this evening is in charming restored cottages in the grounds of luxury Kirnan House estate. There is even a hot tub where you can relax and revive tired cyclist’s legs. Kirnan is a haven for fishermen, ramblers and nature lovers.

Day 4: Cairnbaan to Oban.
We continue northward today on undulating road. From the small village of Ford our route follows Loch Awe for 18 miles. There are some steep stretches, but we are rewarded with stunning countryside views. We turn west at Kilchrenan to cycle cross country over Glen Nant to Taynuilt and then downhill and on through the beautiful Glen Lonan to Oban. According to folklore, this is the ‘Road of the Kings’, part of the route taken by the funeral processions of Scotland’s monarchs on their final journey to rest on the island of Iona. We pass ancient monoliths and the odd farmhouse on our route.

Day 5: Oban to Achranich (Morvern Peninsula).
From Oban we start the day taking a charter boat across to Croggan on the Isle of Mull. Mull is the second largest of the Hebrides and an island of peninsulas which give it a long and varied coastline. We follow the coast for the first few miles before crossing to the west side of Mull taking in a few climbs before we re-join coastline for another stretch alongside Loch Scridain with a backdrop of ancient volcanic peaks. We cut across country again, now heading northwards, we tackle a steady climb for around 5km. We drop down to hug the coast line enjoying a scenery of clear blue loch waters and deep green fields on flatter road to reach Salen. From here we ride on a stretch of double track road Fishnish where we catch another boat across the Sound of Mull to the Morvern Peninsula. Our last ride of the day is alongside Loch Aline to Ardtornish where we stay for 2 nights.

Day 6: Rest day on the Ardtornish Estate.
A day to relax and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. There are options to walk, fish, kayak, dive. If you are keen for some more biking there are local paths, roads and forestry tracks. Rahoy Hills Nature Reserve run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust extends onto the estate; there are opportunities to see golden eagles, white tailed sea eagles, otters and pine martins.

Day 7: Achranich to Fort William.
We set off today with an uphill ride through the country side and then downhill to beautiful Loch Linne. We follow single track road on the west side of the loch all the way to Fort William with a short ferry crossing to reach our destination. The dramatic waterside scenery is open until the last stretch through thicker enclosed woodland; a hunting ground for birds of prey. Several hectares of roadside woodland are managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust as a reserve.

Day 8: Fort William to Fort Augustus.

For the next 2 days our route follows the major natural fault line known as the Great Glen which divides Scotland from coast to coast. Riding from west to east, most of the route keeps to lower levels along a series of glens filled by lochs linked by the Caledonian Canal, harmonising human engineering and nature. Leaving Fort William, we pass the ruins of Inverlochy Castle, built in the 1200s, then cross the River Lochy to join the Caledonian Canal at Corpach. Following the canal towpath, at the start of our route we encounter Neptune's Staircase, a flight of eight canal locks built by Thomas Telford and the longest staircase lock in Britain. If we are lucky enough to be here on a sunny day you will enjoy spectacular views of Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest mountain) across the water. We cycle a relatively flat 12 miles to reach the Clan Cameron Museum; exhibits include the history of the clan, its involvement with the Jacobites and the 1745 uprising.

Cycling on, we skim the edge of Loch Arkaig, a very deep fresh water loch, riding through deeply wooded area of valley, flanked by walls and trees carpeted in thick moss; this area is known as "Mile Dorcha" or "Dark Mile". We pass by the spectacular Eas Chia-aig waterfalls that tumble down the north side of the valley. We continue following a waterside route along Loch Lochy. This is a relatively challenging stretch due to the variable surface and some gradient. Passing Laggan Locks we continue along Loch Oich on a fine gravel path on the east side. We re-join the canal towpath for our final stretch to Fort Augustus, a small busy town at the southern end of Loch Ness, built around the locks that lower the canal to the level of the loch. The village was named thus on the building of Fort Augustus, following the defeat of the 1715 Jacobite uprising, after the younger son of King George II, who was to become the notorious Butcher of Cumberland.

Day 9: Fort Augustus to Inverness.
Leaving Fort Augustus, we begin with some challenging uphill riding for around 5 miles to reach the Suidhe Viewpoint at 1200ft. From here there are amazing views of our spectacular natural surroundings. This is the more peaceful, less discovered side of Loch Ness with quiet minor roads and small communities. We enjoy a long downhill stretch through beautiful landscapes to Whitebridge. As we continue northwards we pass the smaller Loch Mhor and ride through the Lyne of Gorthleck. Legend has it that Bonnie Prince Charie stayed at Gorthleck House after the Battle of Culloden and had to flee after seeing loyalists outside, from an upstairs window. We continue to cycle quiet forested back roads all the way to Inverness, cultural capital of the highlands and our final destination!

We should arrive around 2pm with plenty of time to catch an afternoon train or flight to London/Glasgow.

Supplemental Tour Information:
Optional Extras:

Own Room: From £375
Bike Hire: From £135
e-bike Hire: From £225.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes: 8 nights accommodation on bed and breakfast basis. The places we book are all traditionally Scottish in character. We deliberately try to avoid the "touristy" accommodation and focus more on those places with excellent hospitality. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are sometimes available at extra cost.

We will recommend places for lunches and evening meals for the group.

About This Supplier
Location: England
Joined InfoHub: Mar 2011

M20818 is a specialist company taking small groups of cyclists to spectacular, remote areas of the world. We offer a unique blend of physical challenges, cultural experiences and cycling camaraderie, at highly competitive prices. M20818 guides are experienced cyclists and tour leaders. Destinations include Laos,...

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