Duration: 11 Days / 10 Nights From £2,495
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Trip created by Paul Easto
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Starting and ending in the Highland Capital of Inverness, the 500mi/800km route around Scotland’s North Coast offers an unforgettable bike trip of a lifetime.
With over 10,000m of elevation, we can’t guarantee it will be easy but we can guarantee that it will be epic. With expert guiding and full trip support, you’re free to focus on the riding which will take you through some of the most spectacular roads and scenery in Europe. From the breathtaking and ancient mountains of Torridon to the wild coasts of Assynt and the vast moorland of Sutherland, this is an incredible trip of a lifetime which should be on every cyclist’s bucket list.
Need a bike? See our bike hire page for details.
We’ll meet you in Inverness mid-morning before a full trip intro and orientation over coffee. We’ll then spend some time checking over your own bike or getting you fitted with one of our Trek hire fleet. Rolling out of Inverness we’ll ride for around an hour before reaching Beauly for lunch. Explore the village and take a wander through the 13th century priory. From Beauly it’s an easy cruise on quiet back roads to reach our historic and welcoming hotel in Contin (L, D)
Ride details: 22mi/35km | 262m/865ft of ascent
An easy cruise on rolling roads out of Contin takes us north to Garve before we strike west through increasingly mountainous country. From Achnasheen onwards, we cross the watershed before riding downhill through forest and mountains to reach the west coast at Strathcarron. From here we have some climbing (and descending) to reach our overnight accommodation right by the water in the village of Shieldaig. Here we will stay for 2 nights (B, L)
Ride details: 59mi/94km | 872m/2876ft of ascent
Today’s ride has been voted the best day cycle in the UK and the regular feedback we get from cyclists far and wide supports that view. A short warm up from Shieldaig prepares the legs for what lies ahead. The Bealach na Ba is the UK’s highest and toughest road climb and climbs right from the sea to the summit at 626m. The average grade of 7% hides the fact that there are some ramps of up to 20% which provide a serious test. The reward at the top is the most incredible view of the Scottish Islands and West Coast. After an amazing descent, we’ll enjoy an equally amazing seafood lunch at the Applecross Inn. From here we follow the spectacular coastal road which eventually takes us back to Shieldaig (B, L)
Ride details: 45mi/72km | 1433m/4730ft of ascent
After yesterday’s big day you’ll surely be lifted by the magnificent scenery which dominates the day. Today’s route winds it way through arguably the most spectacular landscapes in the UK. Dramatic mountains rise like ancient giants providing an unforgettable backdrop to the riding. The camera, as well as the legs, will be working hard today. An early lunch in the fishing village of Gairloch offers an opportunity to recharge with some local seafood before we continue around the coast. Our destination for this evening is Dundonnell. (B, L)
Ride details: 66mi/106km | 1370m/4522ft of ascent
We’ll make an early start today to give time to explore and relax in the vibrant village of Ullapool. Enjoy a coffee by the harbour or browse in the local craft shops and bookstores. We climb out of Ullapool where another amazing mountain scene reveals itself. The rest of the day is spent on some simply brilliant roads. Our favourite section (known locally as “the wee mad road”) squeezes between mountains and sea on the way to Lochinver and our overnight stop. (B, L)
Ride details: 55mi/88km | 1338m/4418ft of ascent
You might want to hold back on the full Scottish breakfast this morning as the first 22 miles of the day almost defy description. A looping ribbon of tarmac climbs and descends for over 3300ft/1000m through the most incredible coast and mountain scenery – it may be like no road you have even ridden before! We’ll recharge with lunch by the iconic bridge in Kylesku before continuing north along the coast to the crofting village of Scourie. If the sun is shining, enjoy a cool beer among the palm trees overlooking the harbour and remind yourself you’re actually in Scotland! (B, L)
Ride details: 35mi/56km | 1033m/3409ft of ascent
Today is the most distance we’ll cover in a single day of the trip, winding our way through the most northerly road on the UK mainland. Our first milestone is Durness where we will ride past some unspoilt and stunning beaches. An essential stop here is Cocoa Mountain where we can get a local chocolate hit before turning east and tackling the hilly roads which leads us around and then across two fjord-like sea lochs. Our destination for this evening is the village of Bettyhill, perched right on the coast overlooking Torrisdale Bay. (B, L)
Ride details: 66mi/106km | 1436m/4740ft of ascent
Our journey continues east along the coast, passing some superb beaches on this unspoilt section of rugged coast. At the sands of Melvich we turn south and head into the “Flow Country”. We exchange wild coast for wild moorland where few cars travel and traverse a remote and isolated valley to cross the west-east watershed. Here we climb through an even more wild and beautiful glen before descending to the East Coast. Upon hitting the coast road it’s a short distance to our overnight stop at Brora. (B, L)
Ride details: 57mi/91km | 1039m/3429ft of ascent
Our penultimate day kicks off with a ride inland following a quiet backroad which takes us past three lovely lochs before climbing and descending into Strath Brora. We’ll stop for an early lunch in Lairg and then continuing riding south alongside the lovely River Shin. This is one of the best places to see salmon leaping upstream on their own journey to their spawning grounds. We rejoin the coast at the Dornoch Firth and then have the day’s biggest climb to tackle, some 200m over the Cadha Mor. Compared to what’s gone before you should take this in your stride before descending to Evanton and our overnight castle accommodation in Dingwall. (B, L)
Ride details: 65mi/104km | 1082m/3571ft of ascent
The final push. After 9 days of epic riding, just 45 miles lie between you and completing this incredible and challenging bike tour. As we hit the Black Isle you’ll welcome the fast and rolling roads. It’s great cycling here through rolling farmland and friendly villages. It’s tempting to dwell awhile in the historic backstreets of Cromarty and we’ll certainly have a great lunch here before riding the final 20 miles to Inverness. Crossing the Moray Firth, victory is in sight and we’ll finish were we began, right on the esplanade of Inverness Castle. Muster up your final reserves of energy for a celebratory dinner in Inverness (B, L, D).
Ride details: 45mi/72km | 670m/2214ft of ascent
Take it easy this morning over a relaxed breakfast before packing the bikes and saying farewell to the Highlands. Alternatively stay on in the Highlands for some recovery time – ebikes available to get from the hot tub to the bar! (B)
On this trip, we generally use 3-4* small hotels/guest houses with some flexibility on location depending upon group size. Wherever we’re staying we aim for a warm welcome and, where possible, facilities that are welcome by cyclists.
We would normally eat dinner as a group and plan to dine in the hotels where we are staying for convenience at the end of a long day.
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 request a double room for single occupancy, a supplement will be payable
Due to the nature of the accommodations we use, single supplements are limited and are allocated on a first come first served basis.
Each of the accommodations includes breakfast with a wide range of choices. Lunches are taken on the road in the form of a rolling picnic or a cafe/pub depending upon the weather and location. We also take care of your additional nutrition requirements and provide energy snacks and drinks on demand.
All breakfasts and lunches are included in the price, along with dinner on the first and final night. For 2 nights on the trip, your guides will take the evening off.
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.Ask Paul a Question