Aviemore to Inverness
Distance: 85.30kms | Ascent: 735m | Approx Time: 3:29:55 mins
I have used this route as my “commute” home, living on the Black Isle, I thought it would be a nice long distance ride after a day at work. Following the National Cycle Network Route 7, from Aviemore to Tomatin, before turning left and taking the climb over the Garbole.
This climb is the highlight of the trip, followed by the great descent down into Farr, and then into Inverness, before picking up the Cycle Network, crossing the Kessock Bridge onto the Black Isle and homeward to Easter Kinkell.
Aviemore to Ballater
Distance: 79.24kms | Ascent: 950m | Approx Time: 3:25:55mins
This route is a classic Cairngorm Cycle, passing over the Lecht Ski Centre and has some fairly big climbs. Starting out at Coylumbridge and taking the road to Nethy Bridge, the first hill starts with the climb up past Corriehullie and joins the A939.
There is a fast and windy descent into Bridge of Brown, followed by the second climb of the day. The road up to the Lecht takes you to 2090 feet, before another descent down into Cockbridge. The final ascent is over Gairnsheil and then onwards to the village of Ballater.
Applecross and The Bealach na Bà
Distance: 68.41kms | Ascent: 1107m | Approx Time: 03:13:41mins
The Bealach is the UK’s biggest road climb at 2053ft (626m) and covers the pass from sea level to summit in just 6 miles (10k). Passing through the mountains of the Applecross Penisula, this route is popular with cyclists and home to a sell out cycling events every year.
The Road has recently been voted by National Geographic one of the world’s greatest car journeys, along with Route 66 and the Silk Road in Asia. We think the best way to experience it is on your bike, in low gears and ensuring you have plenty of energy! Once you are finished, make sure you have enough time to sample some food and a beer at the Applecross Inn.
Assynt Achiltibuie Circular
Distance: 122kms | Ascent: 1468m | Approx Time: 05:22:11mins
The Achiltibuie route offers a challenging cycle with stunning coastal scenery on a mixture of single track and A class roads. Starting in Achiltibuie, cycle north towards Lochinver, if time allows then it’s well worth stopping into the Lochinver Larder to sample one of their famous pies. Following on the coastal road to Drumbeg and Newton, before joining the A894 passing the side of Loch Assynt and Ardvreck Castle.
Once you reach Ledmore, continue on the A835 turning right after Drumrunie and back to Achiltibuie. Expect lots of ups and downs on the route as well as an abundance of other road users – the sheep!
So, there you have it – enough road cycling routes to keep you on the roads for a few weeks at the very least! The beauty of road cycling in the Highlands really is the freedom on the roads – some days you’ll have nothing but the local wildlife for company, and you can peddle until your legs can take no more!
But, as Craig says, make sure you have enough time, and energy, to sample the local culinary delights and perhaps a pint, or two, of the local brew!