Here we've got the space to share some more of our experience and knowledge of cycling, living and working in the Highlands of Scotland. We also welcome contributions from friends and customers that might help or inspire visitors to the North of Scotland or just visitors to this website.
Exploring Scotland at your own pace with Ticket to Ride
Here at Ticket to Ride, we’re passionate about the Scottish Highlands and believe that the best way to explore these sublime landscapes is by bike. While we don’t offer accommodation holidays, we can rent you a great bike and offer you all the advice you’ll ever need to experience the best of Scotland.
The beauties of travelling by bike are endless; avoiding traffic, breathing in the cold fresh air, not to mention the wellness elements. But one of the best parts about travelling by bike is undoubtedly the freedom it grants you. Instead of waiting for public transport or getting behind the wheel, cycling allows you to take yourself where and when your heart desires.
By using your own intuition to explore Scotland at a slower pace, you will leave your cycling holiday feeling refreshed and reset, ready to take on the challenges of everyday life. Slow travel is something that has been spoken about quite a bit in recent years. So often do we spend our breaks from work trying to cram in as many experiences as we possibly can without stopping to truly appreciate our surroundings.
To ensure you get the most out of your cycling holiday, here are just a few of the ways you can slow the pace, save your energy and make memories to last a lifetime.
Enjoy the journey
If there’s one thing we cyclists know how to do, it’s enjoying the journey. Cycling isn’t the quickest mode of transport, but that’s the great thing about it. We actively choose cycling because not only does it allow us to invest in our planet, but it allows us to take in the beauty of the world around us. It allows us to engage with the terrain, the smells, the nature and the (sometimes unpredictable) Scottish weather.
Tip: If you do need to use a vehicle for you and your bike, public transport can save you a whole lot of money, and it’s much more sustainable.
Book eco-friendly accommodation
When cycling through the Scottish Highlands, it might seem like you are surrounded by only nature and sublime landscapes, but you’ll be surprised at what you can find hidden in these wee corners. If you do not have any plans in place for your accommodation just yet, why don’t you check out some eco-friendly accommodation? Helping make your trip to Scotland a sustainable one, from transport to accommodation.
Just because you’ve chosen a cycling holiday doesn’t mean you have to cycle all the time. Sometimes, it’s good to just take a day our two out to chill out and put your feet up.
Ready to book your cycling holiday in the Scottish Highlands? Get in touch with the team to book your perfect bike hire.
Cycling Holidays In Scotland and Coronavirus COVID-19
Published 13th April 2021
It has just been announced that COVID restrictions in Scotland will be relaxed ahead of schedule. We will be able to welcome visitors from across the UK from 26th April. We will continue to work within industry guidelines for COVID safety which slows us down a bit and can reduce our capacity. Please help us to help you by:
being patient, we will be operating with a smaller team but will schedule customers so we can deal with everyone to the usual high standard, safely
It’s hard to answer the phone at times but colleagues working remotely can usually deal with emails quite quickly.
Published 4th March 2021
It is still not possible to predict with certainty when it will be safe to lift travel restrictions and re-open hotels and restaurants. A good source of information and travel advice for Scotland in the COVID era is of Course VisitScotland.
We’re also now signed up to the standards set out by the World Travel and Tourism Council under their Safe Travels scheme.
Published 9th February 2021
It is not clear when we will be able to start trading again or when customers will be allowed to travel to Inverness. In the meantime we will be preparing as much as we can so that we can continue to provide our usual high standard of service as well as taking the necessary and reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of infection. Our collective COVID learning curve was steep in 2020 and conscientious businesses craved clear conditions they could comply with to give customers the confidence to return.
Collating all this guidance and reviewing our compliance has been helped by the Good To Go scheme developed by the national tourism organisations of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. Businesses displaying this mark have confirmed their compliance with public health advice and their own risk assessments.
We continue to learn about the transmission of the virus, the level of infection in Scotland is already reducing and the vaccine programme is being delivered at a speed not many parts of the world can match. Our precautions are reviewed regularly and we look forward to a time when measures can be relaxed rather than restricted further.
Published 14th January 2021
A lot has happened since that last update in May but in many ways not much has changed and we are largely all still stuck at home. We were fortunate to be able to operate for the best part of July, August and September 2020. It all seems like a dream right now but for a few weeks the sun shone and memories were made:
We were confident that we took all practical precautions to protect ourselves and our customers from infection. It was clear that our working environment was vastly lower risk than many other businesses (e.g. hospitality). Despite observing some less-than-exemplary physical distancing and face covering the summer 2020 tourism season does not seem to have imported much Coronavirus to the Highlands and I’ve precisely zero anecdotes of tourism related infection. The Highlands has seen an increase in infection rates during this winter wave but thankfully continues to escape the soaring levels of virus seen elsewhere.
Preparation for the 2021 season is well underway and as we get closer to returning to operations in…. April?… I’ll share more details here and in booking emails etc. Until then please stay safe, get plenty of local exercise and dream of cycling in the Scottish Highlands this summer.
Published 21st May 2020
The Scottish Government Route Map out of corona-virus lockdown has just been published. We’ve been thinking more about how to serve visitors safely after lockdown and some changes to the way we work might include:
It has been 7 weeks since “lockdown” started and despite all the announcements by politicians in Westminster and Holyrood we have not received any financial support for the business apart from a contribution towards the wage costs of my furloughed colleagues.
To date the insurance company has been similarly dishonourable in it’s approach to our claim. The policy states we have cover for business interruption resulting from:
“your inability to use the business premises due to restrictions imposed by a public authority during the period of insurance following: a. a murder or suicide; b. an occurrence of a notifiable human disease within one mile of the business premises;“
I think most reasonable people would conclude that the above adequately describes our current predicament but the insurers claim to have been thinking about something else when they chose those words.
We are hopeful of receiving funds soon from a bank loan which should allow us to continue with preparations to return to trade although repayments will be a burden for years to come.
In the meantime we have been working with Cycling UK to provide bike loans and maintenance services FREE of charge to key workers. It is great to be given the opportunity to use our skills and resources to contribute something positive to the community again after a long winter and then this pandemic crisis.
Published 8th April 2020
A lot has happened since the last update a month ago. Travel restrictions have come into force through much of the world and we’ve delayed the start of our bike hire and cyclist transport season. Operating a seasonal business is challenging at the best of times and this pandemic has hit Scottish Tourism right when it hurts in terms of cash flow. We always knew our customers were nice people but it has been truly heartwarming to know that our customers really empathise with our situation, won’t give up on their Scottish cycling holiday and make a real effort to reschedule rather cancel. This generosity of spirit is a great encouragement when the road ahead is unclear. It’s a health crisis above all else and we must do what it takes to protect ourselves and others and get the virus under control. Getting back to the business of helping visitors explore the Highlands by bike is the light at the end of the tunnel for us now.
Published 7th March 2020
We’ve all been concerned to hear about the recent spread of Coronavirus around the world. Most of our customers are not letting the virus affect their plans for their Scottish Cycling Holiday and indeed some have commented that they’d feel less at risk cycling through the Scottish Highlands than they might have at home!
For travelers and those of us in the tourism trade who meet folk from all over the world it is only sensible to do what we can to reduce the risk of infection. Keeping our bikes and vehicles clean was a big part of our job anyway but we have introduced anti-viral cleaning products to ensure that all contact points like handlebars, door handles, seat-belts and helmets are sanitized before every trip. We seldom have more than one group in our vehicles in a day and I know visitors have said they’d feel happier in a private transfer than using the public bus.
Do you have a desire to work in the travel and tourism industry? Info about open job offers can be found at Jooble website.
Cycling The Great Glen Way from Spean Bridge to Laggan Locks
We’ve had a really wet and windy start to 2020 so when our favourite local weatherman Windy Wilson (@WindyWilson88) said “HIGH pressure now beginning to build” plans were put in place for a trip out on the bikes. We’ve not been for a cycle together for a wee while and we were keen to have a play with our new navigation app RideWithGPS. There are lots of navigation apps for cycling and they all have their pros and cons but RideWithGPS is definitely the best for those of us that want to provide really good information about cycling routes in the Highlands of Scotland.
I’d clearly not paid sufficient attention to the “afternoon” caveat in Windy’s forecast and as we drove through icy showers with slush building up in the wheel arches I realised why my colleagues had been keen to go on Sunday instead. Luckily the sleet had stopped by the time we parked in Spean Bridge and commenced the pre-ride faffing.
The main purpose of the trip was to see if the surface of the Great Glen Way between Clunes and Laggan Locks is suitable for hybrid or gravel bikes. I also wanted to check out the path from Spean Bridge to the Commando Memorial via “High Bridge”. I’d ridden this path before but I was feeling rotten that day and my memory was foggy. The main A82 road is really busy and not pleasant to cycle on. There is a roadside pavement all the way from Spean Bridge but the “High Bridge” route is by far the more attractive option. There are a couple of drawbacks though, namely the tiny gates at either end of the track that mean you have to lift your bike over the fence. This is not a very back-friendly manoeuvre in any conditions and would be really off-putting if you had luggage on your bike. In Scotland we have a right to access most land and these restrictive gates do not appear to be in line with The Scottish Outdoor Access Code so I’ll be taking the matter up with the Local Access Forum.
Highbridge across the River Spean was built by General Wade to link the government garrisons at Fort William and Fort Augustus. After Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived in Scotland to make his claim for the crown, reinforcements were sent from Fort Augustus to Fort William. The government troops were ambushed as they crossed the bridge and it isn’t too hard to imagine the Jacobites using the terrain to their advantage as they darted around to disorient and discourage their enemy. Their tactics worked as 85 soldiers of the Royal Scots were ultimately defeated by just 11 Jacobite men… and a piper. The bridge is in ruins but it’s amazing to think of the enormity of the events that started here that day.
The path is well drained and the surface is good but it narrows as it passes out of the woods and across a bit of open moor to the Commando Memorial. The memorial was erected in honour of the men who trained in this area in World War II. With it’s panoramic views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr it is surely one of the most photographed places in Scotland.
On with the cycling though and it’s a fast descent down the singletrack road to the Caledonian Canal at Gairlochy. At the canal we meet the Great Glen Way which follows the towpath here from Fort William. In a lot of places the Caledonia Way, National Cycle Network Route 78 (NCN78) follows the same path as The Great Glen Way. Most cyclists will want to follow the NCN78 signs as the few places between Gairlochy and Clunes where the Great Glen Way heads off-road are steep and twisty and short and the NCN78 route sticks to the tarmac which is just as scenic and offers quicker progress.
The signposting on the NCN78 / Great Glen Way is really good and at Clunes we follow the signpost off the tarmac and into the forest. Windy’s forecast proves spot-on as blue skies now stretched far beyond the snow-capped mountains all around. The forest road is in really great condition especially after all the rain we’ve just had. There are a couple of stoney bits and a couple of soft puddly bits but they are not too severe and they are short. 28mm tyres should survive without too much care and 30mm plus should be absolutely fine.
Cyclists on this section are often doing the Great Glen Way in its entirety (for which we’d recommend a mountain bike) or all or part of the Caledonia Way NCN78 or even a Lands End to John O’Groats ride. With those last two routes being mainly tarmac and the only alternative tarmac being the busy A82 it makes a lot of sense to come this way instead.
The Great Glen can also be completed on water and as part of the development of The Great Glen Canoe Trail a number of Trailblazer Rest Sites were established. These can be used by walkers and cyclists too and if you pay for a key in advance you’ll get access to the composting toilets. The shoreside site at Loch Lochy is lovely spot. It is not far from here to the north end of the loch but there’s a wee hill to get over before passing through the crofts at Kilfinnan and back down to the canal and across the lock gates at Laggan.
The original plan was to retrace our tracks to Spean Bridge but we’d dawdled along stopping to take photos along the way and the legs were cold so the option of a lift back to the van was gratefully accepted. There aren’t many days this good in January and even the best of them are short so sometime between April and October would be the best time to plan a Great Glen Way cycle trip.