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Cycle through the 5 countries of Great Britain and Ireland – all in one highlight-packed bike tour.
Over 12 days ride 750 km, experience the different cultures and the best of what’s on offer in these islands.
This unique itinerary provides the amazing opportunity to cycle through the 5 countries of England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland – all in a single highlight packed adventure.
We start in England’s Yorkshire Dales National Park, where our route heads south into Lancashire. Then we cross the border into Wales and ride through Snowdonia National Park before hitting the historic coast. A short hop by boat leads to the Isle of Anglesey and from there across the Irish Sea to Ireland and Dublin for a day of rest in one of Europe’s greatest capitals. We then head west within Ireland, exploring the roads of County Donegal before crossing the border back into the UK in Northern Ireland. Here we follow the spectacular Antrim Coast (some say the best stretch of coastline in Ireland) past the remarkable Giant’s Causeway. Then from Northern Ireland, it’s a boat journey to our final country – Scotland. Here we ride through Dumfries & Galloway on rolling roads. Farms, green hills and gentle coastlines provide the background to the end of our journey. Our final day passes through Keir Mill where the pedal bicycle was invented back in 1839 before rolling into the 17th century Drumlanrig Castle – a majestic end to our memorable tour of all 5 countries of the British Isles.
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You will meet your guides for the trip at York Train Station at 11:00am and transfer to our start point at on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Over a pub lunch, your guides will brief you for the day ahead. Our opening ride follows a lovely route around the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the village of Leyburn. We then ride through Wensleydale before crossing into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Our destination for the evening is near the village of Reeth where we stay in a local inn and enjoy a welcome dinner. (L, D)
Distance: 38km / 21 miles Elevation: 585m / 1920 ft
In 2014, Yorkshire was the proud host of the Grand Depart for the Tour de France. Today’s route follows much of Stage 1 of the 2014 tour and provides the opportunity to test yourself on the amusing Anglo-French climbs of the Côte de Buttertubs (532m) and Côte de Cray (416m). We’ll ride through some of England’s most iconic and picturesque scenery, typical of the Yorkshire Dales. Today is one of the most challenging of the trip but the rewards are ample. By the time we reach the village of Malham, you will have ridden one of best day rides in the UK. (B, L)
Distance: 82km/ 51 miles Elevation: 1319m/ 4326 ft
A relaxing start today after yesterday’s big ride. Leaving the Yorkshire Dales National Park behind we cross into Lancashire and the Forest of Bowland. This happens to be the geographic centre of Great Britain, which seems a fitting place to ride through on our 5 countries tour. We ride through to the village of Waddington where we take a late lunch. Then we transfer south to Oswestry near the English/Welsh border. (B, L)
Distance: 45km/ 28 miles Elevation: 425m/ 1394 ft
From Oswestry, our bike tour heads west into Wales. Central and north Wales are fairly mountainous which makes for great and, at times, challenging cycling. Immediately you will notice a different culture to England. Welsh is often the first language and the national identity is strong. Passing through the rolling valleys of the east, the Milltir Cerrig mountain pass presents a barrier to entering Snowdonia National Park. However, the climb of 300m/900ft is at a steady gradient and the increasingly impressive views provide motivation. The descent over 8km/5mi is a blast and leads us to lunch at the beautiful Bala Lake. The second half of the day journeys through increasingly wild Welsh scenery on roads ideal for bike riding. Climbing higher into Snowdonia National Park our destination for the evening awaits at the end of another amazing descent into Ffestiniog. (B, L)
Distance: 81km/ 50 miles Elevation: 1202m/ 3942 ft
Our second day in Wales begins in the mountains of Snowdonia. In the morning we will pass through many mountain villages steeped in Welsh mythology and legend. Continuing west and our ride destination is in Caernarfon – home to one of the most impressive castles you will find anywhere and a World Heritage Site which overlooks the Menai Straits. After a late lunch and time to explore the town, we will cross by boat to reach the Isle of Anglesey. From here it’s a short distance to Holyhead where our journey across the Irish Sea begins. It’s just over 2 hours by fast boat to Dublin where we’ll be ashore in time for dinner in the city. (B, L)
Distance: 54km/ 34 miles Elevation: 707m/ 2318 ft
After 5 days of riding, we are halfway through our 5 countries tour. The cosmopolitan capital of Dublin provides a great choice for a break from riding. Wander the historic streets, sample the city’s cafes and bars or perhaps check in for a massage to recharge for the second half of the tour. Dublin is a fantastic city to hang out and explore. If your legs are feeling strong, there’s the option of a ride out of the city, along the coast and into the Wicklow mountains where the best views of the city can be taken. Tonight we enjoy a relaxed dinner in Dublin and perhaps a few pints of Guinness at the world famous Temple Bar. (B)
Distance: 58km/ 36 miles Elevation: 755m/ 2476 ft
In the morning we travel by road out west to the wild open spaces of North Donegal. Geographically and politically cut-off from much of the Republic because of the border with Northern Ireland, Donegal has retained its own cultural identity and unique accent. We’ll arrive in time for lunch near Glenveagh National Park before riding north to the coast. The route takes us along an elevated road overlooking Lough Swilly. From here it’s a short distance to our accommodation either in Rathmullan or Inishowen. (B, L)
Distance: 48km/ 29 miles Elevation: 574m/ 1882 ft
Riding across the Inishowen Peninsula we follow an epic route featuring sporting climbs and exciting descents. Upon reaching the east coast a private charter boat will take us across the border into Nothern Ireland where we continue our coastal route from Portrush to Portballintrae via the iconic Dunluce Castle. In the evening there is the option of riding the cycle-way from the hotel down to the Giant’s Causeway, where this fascinating geological formation and World Heritage Site can be seen free from the daytime crowds. (B, L)
Distance: 74km/ 46 miles Elevation: 1402m/ 4598 ft
Today’s ride takes to our final country, starting in Northern Ireland and ending in Scotland. The first part of the route follows the Antrim Coast which many consider to be the finest stretch of coastline in Northern Ireland. Some also consider it to be the “toughest cycling road in Ireland”! The riding is as dramatic as it is challenging following the Torr Scenic route through wild landscapes and deserted villages. Then it’s a short transfer by road to the ferry port of Larne. The crossing from Larne to Scotland takes 2 hours and shortly after arrival the second half of our ride begins. We should make quick progress on the flat roads. Our route through the rural farmland of Dumfries takes us to our overnight stop in Wigtown. (B, L)
Distance: 74km/ 46 miles Elevation: 978m/ 3207 ft
Dumfries and Galloway is a cycling revelation with quiet roads through beautiful scenery. Our route takes in some of the region’s best roads as we head through Galloway Forest Park in the shadow of the hills known as the “Range of the Awful Hand”. With no major climbs, we should make quick progress, reaching Castle Douglas for lunch. From here we head south following the shores of Loch Ken and then through rolling farmland. A late afternoon stop for coffee and cake at one of the best Farm Shops in Scotland provides the boost we need for the final 15km to our historic hotel in Mabie Forest near New Abbey. (B, L)
Distance: 98km / 61 miles Elevation: 928m / 3043 ft
Our final day of riding takes us from New Abbey to a magnificent finish at the 17th century Drumlanrig Castle. The Speddoch climb provides the last major climb of the trip, winding through woodland on the lower slopes to wild moorland. The descent from the pass is superb with great views across the glens and hills to the north. A short distance on we pass Keir Mill where the pedal bicycle was invented back in 1839. From here, it’s a short distance to the Drumlanrig Estate where quiet roads wind through scenic parkland. Our final km is one of the best you’ll find anywhere – a perfect boulevard leading right to the castle entrance. No doubt you’ll be feeling the effects of the past 11 days riding but well have smiles all round! We’ll enjoy some celebratory drinks and cake at the castle before returning to New Abbey for our final night dinner together. (B, L, D)
Distance: 57km/ 35 miles Elevation: 663m/ 2174 ft
After a relaxing breakfast, we’ll depart New Abbey around 09:30am for the two hour drive to Edinburgh. We will plan our arrival into Edinburgh no later than 12:00 noon with the option to be dropped at Lockerbie for the West Coast railway line en route (for trains south inc London). On your journey home, you’ll have time to reflect on what will surely be one of the most memorable biking trips you’ve ever done. (B)
This trip features some of the best hotel and guest house accommodation and food in the British Isles. 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.
We do not charge single person supplements to solo travellers. However, you will be expected 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 £475 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 upon 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 guide at 11:00am on Day 1 at the York Train Station. The meeting place will be under the gold clock (on the ATM side). We will finish in Edinburgh Waverley train station for 12:00 noon on Day 12. Advice on travel to York and from Edinburgh is available on our website under Recommended Travel.
Craig has over 12 years experience in delivering travel experiences and events of exceptional quality across Scotland. As one of the longest-serving members of the Wilderness Scotland team, Craig’s speciality is in road cycling and mountain biking. His expertise and innovation helped create the Road Cycling Guide Award which helps all our guiding team deliver excellence on our trips.
- Craig LittleAsk Craig a Question
Blue Graded Road Cycling Holidays 4-6
Blue graded trips are suitable for people with a good level of bike fitness, who regularly enjoy cycling and may have joined a multi-day cycle holiday before.
Distances each day will be between 35 – 45 miles, cycling at around 12/13mph. Each day will be rolling and hilly terrain and there will be notable climbs most days. Some of these will be more testing and some riders may opt to push or ride in the support vehicle. Some climbs are also followed by exciting descents. We will be in the saddle for 5 – 7 hours each day plus the odd longer day. There is also time each day for breaks and lunches, plus some visits to sites of interest.
Rated 4.88 out of 5 based on 17 review(s) of Road Cycling – The Five Countries Tour
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 08/07/2019
Age: 60 - 70
Trip Date: 17/06/2019
Trips Taken: 2
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Imaginative, challenging (in all the right ways) trip.
Outstanding guides. Ben and Simon, who had not worked together before, seemed liked old friends to each other and to our group.
I will continue to recommend Wilderness Scotland to a zillion people. Impossible to overstate the quality of your trips.
Reviewed on 08/07/2019
Age: 40 - 50
Country: United States
Trip Date: 17/06/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Most were quite nice though there were a couple of "misses."
Knowledgeable, attentive, and fun to spend 12 days with
Excellent! Thanks for a great experience
Reviewed on 03/07/2019
Age: 30 - 40
Country: United Kingdom
Trip Date: 17/06/2019
Trips Taken: 4
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
This is my second trip with Wilderness Scotland, after having also done a trip with Wilderness Ireland. Have found that the Wilderness team (both sides of the ditch) are so passionate about their jobs that makes us, the clients, feel even more immersed in our experiences.
A good selection of accommodation, and while all differ in quality, all had their unique characters. I like that we were staying 'local' as well and away from the chains.
As previously mentioned, all guides in the Wilderness team have such passion for their destinations and handled our difficulties with grace. I've got sick and crashed on this trip and have been a bit of a burden to the group but both Ben and Simon handled it with patience and assurance. Thank you.
Wilderness Scotland (& Ireland) will now be my go to for outdoor breaks when I need a holiday 'at home' :)
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