As travellers look for nature-based, sustainable holidays again this year, Scotland’s customised travel experts, Spirit Journeys, introduce three self-guided cycling holidays on some of Scotland’s less biked routes.
Spirit Journeys Worldwide has a strong focus on authentic, responsible tourism offering guests unrushed, experiential travel in Scotland, from walking and cycling to food tours and Outlander experiences, based on the popular drama about to return to the screen with series six. At the core is staying and eating at local, independent places, giving each trip distinct character and visitors a feel for the real Scotland.
Company founder Julia MacLeay runs Spirit Journeys from Inverness in the Highlands, thoroughly and personally researching each itinerary. She says:
“There is such a sense of fresh air and freedom on a cycling holiday and you notice things you would miss in a car. These northern routes of Scotland have a wonderful mix of staggering scenery, a network of places to stop and novice-friendly terrain, and our self-guided itineraries have been designed so you are free to explore at your own pace. Whether your priority is a long lazy lunch or a quick detour to visit a Scottish castle or whisky distillery, it’s your holiday at your pace followed by a comfy bed in a local B&B or hotel.”
The self-guided cycling itineraries can be booked for any size of group, including solo travellers, and follow a broad route but are customised for each group of guests. All the details are considered and pre-booked to allow guests to enjoy the scenery without the stress of planning the next move.
1. Loch Ness 360 Self-Guided Cycling Tour
This stunning ride combines off-road tracks and quieter roads with scenery that is hard to beat, taking in the South Loch Ness Trail and The Great Glen Way to create a circuit of Scotland’s most famous loch. It’s 85 miles (135km) in total but spread over four days so you’ll also have time to explore Urquhart Castle, take a cruise on the Loch or enjoy a leisurely lunch and soak in the views.
The tour begins from Inverness, the capital city of the Highlands, before riding alongside the vast 37-kilometre Loch Ness. Even if you don’t see the Loch Ness Monster, you will pass through Dores, where full-time Nessie Hunter, Steve Feltham has his home.
Find out more about the Loch Ness 360 Self-Guided Cycle Trail here.
2. Speyside and Moray Self-Guided Cycle tour
This route follows much of the course of the River Spey, famous for salmon fishing and whisky, through a wide range of landscapes with historical, natural and cultural experiences along the way. The Spey rises in the hills above Newtonmore in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and is the eighth longest river in the United Kingdom, as well as the second fastest flowing river in Scotland. As well as stopping for a dram in whisky distilleries, seeing wildlife in all its splendour against the backdrop of the Cairngorm mountains, you can visit the Highland Wildlife Park, the excellent visitor centre at the famous battlefield of Culloden and the Scottish Whale and Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay.
See here for the full itinerary of the Speyside and Moray Self-Guided Cycle trail.
3. Cycle the Hebridean Way (limited availability – please contact Spirit Journeys before booking online)
From Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis, The Hebridean Way is ‘the’ island experience. This trail spans over ten islands, all breathtakingly beautiful and different. Outside peak summer season, the roads are quiet enjoying a different pace of life, characterised by rugged hills, Atlantic coastlines and plenty of pit stops to refuel along the way.
The scenery, wildlife and unique heritage will immerse you as you discover the culture and lifestyle that is very different to the Scottish mainland. Islanders are very warm and welcoming, with Gaelic often being their first language, so there is a sense of tradition and pride in their heritage. If you are lucky, you might spot otters, birds of prey and more, all in their natural habitat.
For more details on the Hebridean Way Self-Guided Cycle Tour, see here.