Trip created by Paul Easto
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The Coast to Coast cycle is a rewarding journey of 262 miles/419km travelling from Aberdeen on the east coast to Applecross in the west.
Cycling across the country we’ll climb over 17,000 feet/5,180 metres, including the UK’s highest and in our opinion arguably the most challenging road climb.
Throw in some excellent Scottish cuisine, including the Applecross Inn (Scotland’s Pub of the year in 2012), changing and stunning scenery each day, along with a huge array of cultural experiences, ranging from castles and distilleries to a fantastic boat trip trip along Loch Ness, this is sure to be holiday to remember.
Need a bike? See our bike hire page for details.
We meet at Aberdeen Train Station this morning and begin our journey across Scotland. A short van transfer takes us to our start point, on the shores of the North Sea. After a group welcome, bike fitting session and a briefing for the day, we set off – leaving the city of Aberdeen behind us as we roll along the quiet South Deeside roads. A riverside lunch awaits us in the picturesque village of Banchory. After refuelling, we continue along the River Dee, leading us to the village of Ballater and the end of our first day’s ride. (L, D)
Distance: 64km / 40 miles, Ascent: 670m / 2,189ft
Today we ride through the UK’s largest and highest National Park. There are a few hills to contend with today with challenging ascents but the exciting descents and superb views more than reward the effort required on the climbs. After a stiff climb over the Lecht pass we’ll stop in the village of Tomintoul – the highest in the Highlands. It’s also home to one of Scotland’s best whisky shops which is well worth a visit. Most of the hard work is done for the day as we make our way to the village of Grantown on Spey, where we will stay tonight. (B, L, D)
Distance: 93km/ 58 miles Ascent: 1342m/ 4,405ft
Today’s ride takes us right off the beaten track. The day starts easily with a pleasant ride through the villages of Dulnain Bridge and Carrbridge before we strike west up the Findhorn Valley. Following a fantastic country road, we climb over the challenging Garbole where the views of the Highlands open up. The route then descends to the village of Farr and then follows quiet backroads alongside the shores of Loch Ness. A fantastic 5 mile descent awaits as the finish to the day, dropping us down to the shores of Loch Ness Followed by a short transfer to our accommodation in the village of Drumnadrochit. (B, L, D)
Distance: 88km/ 55 miles Ascent: 1009m/ 3,312 ft
We enjoy a relaxed morning in the village of Drumnadrochit. Mid-morning, we enjoy a treat as we board a zodiac for a high speed trip on Loch Ness, passing beautiful Urquhart Castle, its ruins perched right on the edge of the loch. Back on land, we bypass a short but busy section of road and start riding again from near the castle – we’re now back on two wheels for the remainder of the day. Our route from Drumnadrochit heads west, passing the Balmacaan Forest, and follows a lovely road alongside the River Glass towards the village of Beauly. The last few miles wind through the attractive countryside to our accommodation secluded in the hills above Contin. (B, L, D)
Distance: 65km/ 41 miles Ascent: 594m/ 1,950 ft
After setting out this morning we pass through Garve and then on to Achnasheen, with the landscape becomes more mountainous around us. After some wild miles, we climb away from the shores of Loch a’Chroisg, rewarded with one of the finest views you will find anywhere – right down the length of the spectacular Loch Maree. The descent is an absolute blast on a perfect road surface and before long we will find ourselves at Kinlochewe. The final section of the day passes through the dramatic Glen Torridon. The scenery here is hard to beat with the majestic mountains of Liathach and Beinn Eighe thrusting skywards. As we gently climb across the watershed, we get our first glimpse of the west coast. We end the day with an overnight stay in the village of Sheildaig. (B, L, D)
Distance: 69km/ 43 miles Ascent: 596m/ 1,958 ft
Today we will start with a warm up on the fantastic coastal road from Torridon to Shieldaig. We then ride south through the hills on a winding single track road before reaching the start of our final, challenging climb – The Bealach na Ba. Famous and spectacular, the road is alpine in nature, crossing the rugged peak of Beinn Bhàn. Starting from sea level and rising through a series of ramps, hairpins and switchbacks to the summit at 626m (2,054ft) over a 6 mile climb, the road reaches gradients of up to 20% in places! Once at the top though, it’s an incredible view of the sea ahead of us and downhill all the way to the coast and journey’s end. Having cycled from Coast to Coast, a celebratory lunch awaits us at the fantastic Applecross Inn. Looking across the sea to the Isle of Skye, it’s the perfect place to relax after a tough day and an amazing trip. This is the official finish of the route, but for anyone who’s not ready for it to end yet, you still have the option of riding around the peninsula back to Shieldaig. (B, L, D)
Distance: 40km/ 25 miles Ascent: 973m/ 3,193 ft
This morning we will have a leisurely breakfast before transferring back to Inverness. The journey takes us around 1.5 hours, arriving into the city around 12 noon, allowing you plenty of time to connect with onward transport. On the way home you’ll have a chance to reflect on what will surely be a most memorable adventure. (B)
This trip features some of the best hotel and guest house accommodation and food along the route we travel. We use a variety of accommodations such as country inns, guesthouses and small hotels, all hand-picked by us. Accommodation is in a choice of double or twin rooms with ensuite facilities.
There is no supplement charged to solo travellers, however you will be required to share a room with another person of the same sex. If you require a single room please request this at the time of booking and we will check availability for you. A single room supplement of £350 is charged if a single room is available.
Lunch each day will be either a wilderness picnic or taken at a local cafe/restaurant. Drinks and snacks are provided throughout the day as you require. Evening meals are included on the first and final evenings, and on this itinerary and we have the flexibility to take evening meals in local restaurants or pubs. Based on our knowledge and experience, we will visit the best places to eat along the route.
On this trip we generally eat dinner as a group however if you would like to make alternative arrangements you are free to do so. Your guide will have an evening off during this trip where they do not eat with the group. They will recommend options for dinner that evening and will help you make any necessary reservations.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
You will be met by your Wilderness Scotland Guide at Aberdeen Railway Station at 11:00am on Day 1 of your trip. The trip will conclude and you will be dropped off at Inverness Railway Station for 12:00 noon on the final day of the trip.
For advice on getting to and from Scotland please our travel advice page on our website: www.wildernessscotland.com/faq/travel-to-scotland/
|Trip Dates for 2019||Availability||Status||Price||Book|
|10th Aug - 16th Aug 2019||3 place(s) left||CONFIRMED||£1,745||Book Now|
|Trip Dates for 2020||Availability||Status||Price||Book|
|23rd May - 29th May 2020||8 place(s) left||UNCONFIRMED||£1,745||Book Now|
|20th Jun - 26th Jun 2020||8 place(s) left||UNCONFIRMED||£1,745||Book Now|
|18th Jul - 24th Jul 2020||8 place(s) left||UNCONFIRMED||£1,745||Book Now|
|8th Aug - 14th Aug 2020||8 place(s) left||UNCONFIRMED||£1,745||Book Now|
Sometimes it's nice to get family and friends together and travel privately for some quality time. This means you benefit from all the features of the group departure, including hand-picked accommodation and expert local guides and we'll take care of it all. Then you can make your choice of departures dates and we'll get back to you to finalise the details.
As founder of Wilderness Scotland Paul’s craving for adventure and knowledge of Scotland knows no bounds. His leadership has resulted in Wilderness Scotland twice being named as Best Green Tour Operator in the World at the World Travel Awards and ranked as No.1 Adventure Travel Company in Europe by National Geographic. Paul’s commitment to excellence in all that he pursues becomes obvious in the routes we follow and the little touches included in this trip.
- Paul EastoAsk Paul a Question
Red Graded Road Cycling Holidays 7-9
Red graded trips are suitable only for fit and experienced riders who love cycling and enjoy the challenge of longer days in the saddle, riding for consecutive days.
Distances range from 40 – 70 miles each day, cycling at roughly 12mph. We will ride variety of terrain from rolling countryside to hilly and mountainous areas. Most days will be challenging and the trip will include some of the more testing climbs in Scotland including high mountain passes. These harder climbs are rewarded with fast and exciting descents. We will often be in the saddle for 7 hours each day plus the odd longer day. There is also time each day for breaks and lunches plus visits to some sites of interest.
Rated 4.89 out of 5 based on 18 review(s) of Road Cycling – Coast to Coast
Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us. Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.
That’s why we read each of our client’s reviews and although we don’t respond to all of them, if it’s glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.
Reviewed on 09/08/2018
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
We loved the professional guides who helped make this bike trip one of our best. Scott and Neil were a great team and catered to our every need. The Highland Hills provided a challenging but doable ride each day. It also also helped to have 6 sunny days with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s! This was an adventure to remember.
Our overall experience with Wilderness Scotland was excellent starting with our pleasant phone calls with Rachael while we were planning our trip. The food and accommodations couldn’t have been better. We have already recommended this trip to friends. Luckily, we have three friends from the area who have completed the Coast to Coast ride so we can compare notes!
Reviewed on 09/07/2018
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
It took a few calls at the very beginning of the planning stage for trip to speak with someone who had experience of doing the cycle element.
Putting aside the fact that we were blessed with unbelievable weather for the entire trip the services of both Kelty & Dave, were exceptional. Details of what was to be included in the trip is as we know detailed in the booking blurb, but the surprise of being served “fresh” coffee when pulling up at side of Glen stops, along with the quality of provisions throughout helped in making this a truly memorable trip. Equally, the insight of the local geology and the geography, along with the fauna and flora knowledge shared by our guides enhanced the spectacular scenery and complemented the wow factor at every turn.
The last two nights accommodation was a disappointment in so much that we were truly spoilt by those we had the pleasure of staying in previously. Wishing to have a herbal tea rather than normal tea for breakfast incurred an additional charge being one such point. Luckily our very last evening meal together was away from this venue - wow what an experience!
Dave and Kelty were brilliant, their support throughout and in particular Dave’s encouragement and guidance during the more arduous climbs were both welcomed and well placed.
Having used the services now of several cycling holiday organisations what we experienced from Wilderness Scotland during our trip is going to take some beating. The attention to detail, the standard of accommodation, the quality of food including the “undersold” value of coffee/refreshment and picnic lunch stops all coupled with the support, encouragement, expertise and knowledge of the area by Kelty & Dave made it a holiday of the highest order. Ps. Even a lost bike part was waiting for us upon our return home!
Reviewed on 18/02/2018
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
If you think of a holiday in Scotland and look for ideas which way to explore the great landscape and which places to visit: the website offers a great variety of ideas! I soon found my favourite: ride from the east to the west coast on a blcycle. For your questions I recommend to phone the Wilderness Scotland office. Every person I talked to was very very friendly and helpful. If like in my case English is not your native language, do not hesitate to use your school English. Be sure, the person on the Scottish end of the line will help you patiently. I remember all my chats were quite a pleasure, despite of my bumpy English. Also be sure: At the start of the trip, when you meet the other pepole of your team: Anything that can be organized in advance will be done perfectly. From the first moment I had the feeeling, that this would be a wonderful trip and now I remember it was prepared as we say like a Swiss clockwork.
Starting at one ocean (North Sea),crossing the country on a bicycle, ending at another ocean (Atlantic) is an idea that really appealed to me and after I have done it I like it even more. On a bike you have the advantage to cover quite a distance and see more places than you would by walking and feel more part of the nature than by driving the same route in a car. In Aberdeenshire surroundings look quite similar to the countryside in the south of Germany, where I live, cycling westwards the cenery changes and with every mile the landscape looks more and more like my (photography) idea of Scotland. If I should shortly describe my experience, I would suggest: „change and variety“ Forests, wetlands, heather covered hills, moutains, the light that shines on the landscape changes as often as the weather does. We had all kinds of weather and water: rivers and waterfalls, lochs and the sea, fog and rain but also the brightest sunshine you can imagine. What more variety can you expect? We went through beautiful villages with some traffic and very stoic car drivers but most of the route was pleasant and quiet. There were remote places with only our cycling team on the way and miles I was riding just for myself. We passed castles -or even stayed overnight- visited distilleries to learn about the art of whisky-making. Loch Ness was the mid-tour highlight. Abroad you mostly hear about the monster. If you are there, you enjoy one of the most beautiful sights possible and forget about Nessie. The route-planning kept my absolute favourite for the last day: The mountain pass climb was really hard, the feeling after having done it and the summit view to the Hebride Islands were more than a reward. We had a beer garden lunch at the sea- front Applecross Inn warmed by bright sunshine and such a peaceful boat trip on Loch Torridon in the afternoon until sunset.
The hotels in Grantown on Spey, Fort Augustus and Loch Torridon: This is the kind of accommodation I would choose: Pretty, charming houses, nice and well-kept en-suite rooms friendly staff, nothing to complain about at all. Coul House Hotel in Contin, Kildrummy Castle Hotel in Alford: What places to stay overnight for a group of cyclists. These houses have a castle atmosphere of luxury but the staff isn’t snobbish at all. I felt very welcome despite we entered in cycling clothes that some may think of as not appropriate perhaps. It was more than I expected, but I think all members of our group were fond of these places. From the noble dining room at Coul House to the other hotel´s restaurants, from the sunny seaside terrace of the Applecross Inn to the warm atmosphere of the Whistle Stop Cafe, that gave us wet cyclists shelter during heavy Scottish rain, not to forget the picnic stops at beautiful spots in the midst of nature: I enjoyed both the places and the dishes, every meal served at table tasted very delicious.
Our guides by turns accompanied us on bike and support vehicle. They offered detailed information for the for the part of the route ahead of us by means of map and accurate explanation. Nevertheless on the road we sometimes took the wrong turn or the group split up because of everyone’s individual speed. David and Neil always managed to bring all of us to the next meeting point along the way and everyone savely reached the destination in the evening. Although they pedaled some extra mile to accompany the faster as well as the slower ones of our group, both did this in a calm pleasant and very friendly way. What Neil and David did for us was much more than just guiding, I would call it a full week complete service. - luggage service We had lightweight bikes, for our guides this meant dragging lots of our heavy bags to the van in the morning and to the hotel in the evening. - technical service to keep our bikes running - food service preparing our picnic and coffee stops (always in style with tablecloth) - psychological service When my legs lost power the last miles of the day, I appreciated the encouraging words of Neil or David riding by my side. - knowledge service Due to our guides‘ detailed knowledge we learned a lot about the regions we passed through. Wilderness Scotland Promise: „ you can expect to be in friendly and safe hands“ I completely agree
If you love nature particularly the great scenery of Scotland, if you ride your bicycle regularly, if you like remote places more than crowded cities - this might be your trip! However you should pay attention to the Wilderness Scotland trip grading. It’s graded red 7! My experience: they do not exaggerate, I sometimes felt my personal fitness limitations. I ride my bike almost every day and of course expected more challenging ascents on a highland route than on the smooth hills at home. In fact sometimes during the trip I was really exhausted but as soon as we arrived at the hotel weakness was gone and a wonderful feeling off satisfaction took over. Would I do it again? Yes without hesitation but with more training in advance. If the trip price makes you hesitate- I also considered twice. It isn’t cheap as Scotland isn’t cheap in general. But quality isn’t for free. What I got back is a holiday beyond comparison. There’s no regret about the money I have spent, it was more than worth it. I recommend this trip confidentially and also Wilderness Scotland. It was my second booking and both holidays were absolutely fascinating. end of feedback survey some further information to Wilderness Scotland people, hope you want to read a bit more. You made me a happy client twice 2014 and 2017 and therefore I wanted to give a positive reply. Sorry for answering only now 5 months after the trip but I hope my feedback is still useful for you. I tried my best to find understandable words but there are language limitations. These also occurred during the trip, since our team was from USA Canada and the guides from Britain with me, the only not native English speaker from Bavaria. All of them were so kind and patient that I felt absolutely welcome among this wonderful international group of people and so the language wasn’t a big problem. It was this international thing I looked for. The others also were enthusiastic about the scenery in Scotland. At viewpoints I heard them shouting „Oh my goodness“ or just „Wow“. Indeed, the scenery is often overwhelming. You are lucky to live there, aren’t you? I was also lucky with our guides David and Neil. It’s not an easy job I think, to handle a group of people who never met before. Different nations, different characters, different ages, fitness levels, cycling speeds. Somehow they managed to bring us together, maybe because David in his calm and nice way of talking and Neil with his unique talent of storytelling are the perfect guiding team. It’s a pity that we probably will not meet again, but there will always be a positive memory of all of these people in my mind. Thank you Neil and David also for cycling by my side or picking me up for the last miles in the evening. You gave me the encouragement I needed in the last hour, my „hour of weakness“. I found my personal rhythm with the ascents and descents and in the end and to my own surprise even climbed „Bealach na Ba“. What a view there,I could even see the Isle of Eigg and remember our pleasant stay there at Kildonan House in 2014. You put the highlights at the end of a well organized trip. Thanks and greetings to the office team, Rupert who was with us at the west coast, Jane, David Russel, Chantal and a special one to Rachael who worked for me for the second time. Thank you all for your kindness! I cannot afford a third one in the moment but I wish to return with my wife sometimes. To keep the wish alive keep on sending emails, I will look at them. My best wishes from Bavaria to all of you, Günther
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