A four day tour around one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland and certainly the most famous in the world, combining some strenuous off road tracks with some easier riding on quiet roads. Starting and finishing in Inverness, the scenery and views are great throughout the trip, with the added excitement of a possible glimpse of the elusive monster, keep your camera handy.
Loch Ness is a quite unique body of water. You would expect a loch large enough to contain the whole world’s population (yes really!) to be enormous, and Loch Ness is a giant. Although hugely deep, the loch is only about 23 miles long and up to a mile wide. The countryside surrounding the loch is very scenic, with hidden glens, ruined castles and friendly villages to explore.
The route on the north side makes use of the Great Glen way, a walking and cycling route, that is rough in some places while in others offers pretty easy cycling and is car free for almost it’s entire length.
On the south side of Loch Ness you have a choice, the newly opened South Loch Ness Trail for mountain bikes and walkers, or the quiet back roads with very little traffic. Of course, you can decide when you see them, or mix the two together depending on how adventurous you feel.
Ticket To Ride Bike Hire and Transport, based in Inverness can hire you bikes for the trip. We can store your luggage while you’re gone, pick you up at various points on the route if you run out of time, and provide an emergency back service for spares and repairs if any disasters happen.
The following is our suggested itinerary, but of course there are lots of alternative routes and accommodation options, in particular on the south side of the loch.
Time of year - we recommend cycling this tour between April and September inclusive.
N.B. we suggest you book all accommodation in advance.
Pick up your hire bike from Ticket to Ride bike hire centre in Inverness’s Bellfield Park, IV2 4SZ. Follow the Great Glen Way markers up above Inverness to Abriachan on the north side of Loch Ness and then on to the busy village of Drumnadrochit and your first overnight stop. You should have plenty time to explore the ruined and romantic Urquhart Castle, just west of Drumnadrochit.
Starting in Drumnadrochit, you continue on the Great Glen Way through Lewiston to the Iron Age fort near Grotaig. The views are great as you pass through Glen Moriston and finish the day in Fort Augustus. In the evening you can explore Fort Augustus and watch boats going through the staircase of locks on the Caledonian Canal.
Up above Fort Augustus there’s a wonderful viewpoint from which you can see all the way back to the east coast and your final destination. A long downhill takes you to the settlement of Whitebridge. At your overnight stop at Foyers you can visit the huge waterfall and explore the ancient woodlands.
For an off road alternative pick up the South Loch Ness Trail at Loch Tarff.
The road hugs the banks of Loch Ness giving excellent views and a chance to spot the monster if she’s about. The Dores Inn is a top place for some lunch or a restorative pint, with lovely views looking all the way up the Loch. If you are lucky, the resident “Nessy watcher” will be at his post.
South Loch Ness Trail alternative - from Inverfarigaig you can rejoin the South Loch Ness Trail by taking the ‘Corkscrew Road’ to a high point on a forest track 1300 feet above Loch Ness. From here the South Loch Ness Trail drops gradually down to Dores.
Arriving back in Inverness, the road goes straight past Bellfield Park, home of Ticket to Ride Bike Hire, where you can return your bikes and pick up your luggage.
Q. What kind of cycling tour is this?
A. The Lap of the Loch is a self-guided mountain biking tour, ideal for reasonably fit riders with some mountain biking experience. It includes some riding on quiet roads and offers the chance to stop off and visit a of key attractions around Loch Ness
Q. How far will we be riding each day?
A. The distances covered each day are between 15 and 20 miles (24km - 32km). The terrain includes off road vehicle tracks, singletrack and some quiet roads.
Q. How easy is it to follow the route?
A. The Great Glen Way is clearly signposted. We sell an excellent map of the Great Glen Way. You can also download GPX files compatible with most GPS devices and smartphones. The return to Inverness on the south side of Loch Ness is on easy to navigate small roads.
Q. What should I take with me?
A. If you are staying in accommodation along the way, you’ll just need your cycling clothes (including good waterproofs), clothes to change into in the evening and food and drink for each day on the trail. There are plenty of shops in Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus where you can buy lunch for each day. If you are camping, you’ll clearly need your camping gear too. We can hire you panniers to carry all your gear.