To coincide with Bike Week (May 30 to June 5), we have picked out five great cycling routes in the north and north-east of Scotland.
With the contribution of cycling organisation Sustrans Scotland, here are five cycling routes that can offer new challenges for experienced riders and a new beginning for those looking to pick up their bike and explore more of Scotland’s outdoors.
If there’s any possible benefits that can be taken from the chaos of the pandemic, one may be that more of us Scots have taken up cycling like never before.
Loch Ness 360
Distance: 83 miles
Ideal for more experienced cyclists travelling light on gravel or mountain bikes. Signed Loch Ness 360.
The Loch Ness 360 Trail connects the Great Glen Way with the South Loch Ness Trail to create a challenging 83-mile circuit of one of Scotland’s most iconic lochs, which cyclists can enjoy during two days.
Follow the Great Glen Way from the riverside paths of Inverness, high into the hills above Loch Ness to Fort Augustus, and return via the scenic South Loch Ness Trail along a mixture of minor roads, forest tracks and purpose-built trails.
You also might just catch a glimpse of a monster, if you’re lucky.
Cullen to Buckie on National Cycle Network Route 1
Distance: 7.3 miles
Suitable for families. Majority traffic-free sealed path, with some short on-road sections at Findochty and Portknockie. Mostly flat, with one notable climb leaving Findochty. Sign-posted National Cycle Network Route 1.
Meandering alongside the cliffs and coastline of Moray, this exceptionally pretty route provides riders with stunning views across the Moray Firth.
A great route for beginners, the route incorporates a climb at Findochty for those hoping to build confidence and experience with ascents. Efforts here are immediately rewarded with a straight, flat and smooth trail towards the historic fishing town of Buckie.
Aviemore to Abernethy Forest Loop
Distance: 18 miles
Majority traffic-free, suitable for families. Hybrid bikes/wider tyres recommended (some unsealed sections).
Keep your eyes peeled for swooping ospreys and learn more about these beautiful birds at RSPB Loch Garten. If you are looking for a shorter adventure, catch a steam train back to Aviemore from Boat of Garten – cyclists and bikes are very welcome.
Fort Augustus to Laggan Locks on the Caledonia Way
Start: Fort Augustus
End: Laggan Locks
Distance: 22 miles
Majority traffic-free, suitable for families. Hybrid bikes/wider tyres recommended (some unsealed stony sections). Signed Caledonia Way.
Beginning at the southern end of Loch Ness, this flat route follows the Caledonian Canal towpath and the old Invergarry to Fort Augustus Railway Line.
The route traverses tunnels and Victorian bridges, reflecting the canal’s history as a bustling shipping lane.
Ending at the scenic viewpoint alongside Laggan Locks, the journey culminates in spectacular views across Loch Lochy and a well-deserved coffee break.
Distance: 41 miles
Majority traffic-free, suitable for families but some short steeper sections giving more of a challenge. Sign-posted National Cycle Network Route 195.
The Deeside Way follows the line of the Old Royal Deeside Railway from Aberdeen to Banchory, through woodland and farmland to Kincardine O’Neil before then rejoining the old line from Aboyne to Ballater.
There are many opportunities to see remains of the old railway infrastructure as well as stunning views of the River Dee with the Cairngorm Mountains as a backdrop.
Most of the route is off road with gradual gradients making for easy going. There are also opportunities to link into other paths including historic drove roads like The Fungle and Firmounth and local path networks.