Scotland's northwest coast is truly a magical island landscape: endless white sandy beaches, crystal-clear, sky blue water and lush green meadows covered in wildflowers, all splashed across a rugged lunar-like landscape built of rolling moorland and craggy coastlines. Lucky visitors may even spot a few dolphins, whales, otters or eagles, although all who visit will leave with one thing: Everlasting memories of this region’s unique, untouched scenery.
Along this route, thanks to the combination of numerous bike trails and the odd ferry crossing, you’ll hop through the center of Gaelic culture and get to know eleven of the islands. The ride starts on the Western Isles, better known as the Outer Hebrides, where you’ll enjoy tranquil and quiet streets, secluded bays, and the opportunity to visit a gallery or a whiskey distillery. Here, you can immerse yourself in the past and explore Callanish's megalithic stone formations and the traditional black houses of the 18th and 19th centuries.
On the Isle of Skye, you’ll discover the home of Scotland's most renowned landscapes: The Fairly Glen, the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr and the Cuillin Massif. Here, you’ll have to share Skye’s majestic sights with a fair few tourists, however, or head out onto the islands lonely roads to enjoy the rough beauty of the island undisturbed. Just remember: Flat is not a word that describes anything here.
Along each stage, you’ll find picnic areas, cafés, supermarkets and accommodation, and many of the islands are so small that you can explore them in one day. And if this is not motivating enough, you can also pedal safe in the knowledge that spontaneity is all you need: The islands’ infrastructure is perfect for on-the-fly decision making, and you don’t need to plan ferry-crossings or accommodation in advance. And if you travel with a tent, you can start individual stages more easily and look forward to lonely nights on the beach with a view of wonderful blue water as far as the eye can see. Just keep in mind that you’re in Scotland; the weather here can change at a moment’s notice. Don't forget to bring your windproof rainwear, and cycle in a northerly direction if possible—that way the wind will give you a nice assist from behind.
Although the Hebrides are often visited by boat, Oban is the most ideal starting point for this Tour, which can be reached comfortably by train. And after you’re done, Harry Potter fans, in particular, are in for an extra treat on the way back: the Hogwarts Express will be departing from Mallaig.
Ferry timetables can be found here: aferry.co.uk
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: December 6, 2021
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