The Highlands of Scotland are one of the most strikingly beautiful, unspoiled and friendly parts of the British Isles. The dramatic scenery and warmth of the welcome you get in this area has made it a popular place to visit for the last two hundred years or so. Unlike other destinations, the Highlands of Scotland have avoided mass development and the local people have retained a strong sense of their identity and culture.
At the heart of the Highlands lies Inverness, the cultural and administrative centre of this unique land. A busy town of 60,000 inhabitants, Inverness provides visitors with an ideal base from which to explore the Highlands. Inverness is on the east coast of the Highlands, but only 60 miles from Ullapool over on the wonderful west coast. Although the town has all the services you’d expect from a small city, its only minutes away from Loch Ness and some of the most exceptional scenery in the UK. And, best of all, Inverness is the focal point for a huge range of biking opportunities, both on and off road.
Cycling in the Highlands is going through a bit of a boom at the moment, and it's easy to see why. Firstly, many of the roads are ideal for cycling. Large parts of the Highlands (in particular Ardnamurchan, Lochalsh, the south side of Loch Ness, Badenoch and Strathspey, the Black Isle, Easter Ross and south east Sutherland and Caithness) have a network of small, infrequently used roads that are great to ride on. Cars can be a rare sight on these small, “singletrack” roads and vehicles pass each other at specific passing places (photo of a passing place sign, I have some). In other parts of the Highlands, like the North West Highlands and on the North coast, even the "A" class roads are very quiet and offer unbeatable scenery.
The weather in early summer can be glorious for cycling, with light winds, mild temperatures and lots of sunshine. Its true that cyclists in the Highlands have to be prepared for some rain showers and colder temperatures. But, in a part of the country where days can be light for 18 hours, the old adage that “if you don’t like the weather just wait half an hour” has a ring of truth to it.
Cycling distances in the Highlands can be relatively short. This makes for some easy touring days with lots of time to explore places along the way. And there is a lot to explore, from mediaeval castles to ancient pictish burial chambers to some of the best whisky distilleries in the world. For the keener riders, there are some impressive and very challenging hills that will test your mettle. With so much to choose from its always possible to find a route that will keep you excited and involved for the whole trip. We are always happy to talk to you about your ideas for your bike trip, or have a look at some of our suggested routes on here.
Good food and clean, comfy places to sleep are an important part of any cycling holiday. The Highlands has some really excellent places to stay and eat, and the VisitScotland website is a great way to find them. Or drop us and email and we’ll be happy to suggest places we know are good. Accommodation in some key places can get busy in the peak summer months, so we do recommend planning, and booking, ahead if possible.
You won’t need any special equipment for your Highland cycling adventure. Some good, warm, waterproof clothing and a good, well-maintained bike are the most important items. If you bring the former, we can provide the bike. We also have panniers for you to put your gear in. Have a look at our hire pages and you’ll find the right bike for your trip.