Green hills that stretch all the way to the wild coast. Rocky stretches, lonely sandy beaches and impressive sounds await you here. Clear rivers that make their way through the deserted, untouched nature, next to innumerable picturesque lakes called "Lochs" in Scotland. Thinly populated islands that lie high in the north like raw emeralds in the North Sea - green, pristine jewels of nature. And everything is connected by a cycle path that takes you right through the middle of this unique landscape.
The North Sea Coast Cycle Route takes you through Scotland for over 800 miles (1,300 kilometers). From the English Berwick-upon-Tweed near the Scottish border you cycle to the north coast of Scotland and then continue on to the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands. The destination in Scotland and the entire North Sea Cycle Route is Lerwick on the Shetland Islands. The North Sea Coast Cycle Route starts in Bergen, Norway and runs for over 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) around the North Sea. It passes Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, England and ends in Scotland.
The Scottish part of the North Sea Coast Cycle Route is presented here in 16 stages between 30 and 60 miles (50 and 100 kilometers) long. As Scotland is a country full of beautiful hills, some elevation gain is waiting for you on all stages. If the individual rides are therefore too demanding for you, you can simply halve them, because although Scotland is sparsely populated in some regions, there are not only overnight accommodations in the stage destinations but also along the route. In remote areas, however, it is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, as there is often not much choice. When planning your trip, we also recommend that you take into account the ferry schedules that will take you to the islands in the north of Scotland. For example, the ferry between the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands only runs four times a week in summer. You can find the timetables here: northlinkferries.co.uk.
To get to the starting point of the North Sea Cycle Route to Berwick-upon-Tweed, you can take the train, plane or ferry. The nearest airports are Edinburgh or Newcastle, where the ferry from Amsterdam also stops. At the end of the ride, you can take the ferry from Lerwick to the Scottish mainland and Aberdeen. From there you can continue your journey by train or plane. Alternatively, you can take the ferry to Bergen to the starting point of the North Sea Coast Cycle Route.
If a ride through Scotland is not enough for you, you can also put together the complete adventure on the North Sea Coast Cycle Route. Here are all parts of the cycle path for you with map and itinerary:
The tour starts on the North Sea Coast Cycle Route through Scotland in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England, where the final leg of the North Sea Cycle Route ends in England, just a stone's throw from the Scottish border. If you do not come from the English part and your bike tour starts here, you can for example come by train.After leaving the starting point, after the first few kilometers of the stage, cross the River Tweed, the natural border between England and Scotland. On the Scottish side you cycle then always near the river through a beautiful, slightly hilly field and meadow landscape direction intermediate goal Innerleithen. On the way you will pass several impressive castles and palaces, which you can visit during a break. There are also several small villages on the route, which offer to rest.
Today we will travel from Innerleithen to the Scottish capital Edinburgh. The stage begins with a light but continuous climb that takes you into a beautiful hilly landscape. Surrounded by green hillsides, where every now and then graze a few sheep, you cycle over the heights. At the end you can enjoy a long descent that leads you through a picturesque field and meadow landscape.On the way to the north, the places are lined up and it is becoming more and more urban. Shortly before the stage destination, you will cycle east and dive into the foothills of Edinburgh. Through the suburbs and the enchanted Bawsinch Nature Reserve you reach today's stage destination.
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This stage connects two great Scottish cities: Edinburgh and the university town of St Andrews. From Edinburgh you cycle to Forth Bridge, where you cross the Firth of Forth. From the suspension bridge you have a spectacular view of the water and the two parallel bridges. On the other side of the bank begins a long climb to the hills, which is rewarded with a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside and a rapid descent.About halfway you reach the place Kinross, which offers itself for a cozy rest. It is located directly on the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve, whose shores can also be explored by bike thanks to the bike paths. Through a hilly field and meadow landscape, which is interrupted by small wooded areas, it goes to the stage destination St. Andrews, which is mainly known for its golf courses and the university.
Today, on the Scottish part of the North Sea Coast Cycle Route, on the way from St. Andrews to Montrose, it's the first time along the North Sea coast. From St. Andrews, you cycle north along a flat stretch of road and first cross the River Eden and then the two-kilometer-wide Firth of Tay. On the other side of the river, the city of Dundee awaits you, where you can take a break. From there, the bike path leads you to the North Sea coast, where you can enjoy the view of the sea and the salty breeze on your face. Over some of the small hills on the coast, the final few kilometers take us to the final destination Montrose, which is located on the Montrose Basin Local Nature Reserve and some beautiful beaches.
On this leg from Montrose to Aberdeen, you can enjoy both shallow seaside and scenic hillside passages. Without much ado, you cycle northwards along the coast, passing beautiful beaches and passing charming coastal villages. After a detour through a hilly field and pasture landscape you reach halfway the coastal town of Stonehaven. Here you can eat fresh fish and enjoy the beach during a break.Rested and freshly strengthened, we will return to the picturesque hills that will take you further north. On a breathtakingly beautiful coastal road you finally cycle to the stage destination Aberdeen, where you can enjoy all the advantages of a big city.
Off the coast, the cycle path takes you from Aberdeen to Banff on this leg. It is also hilly and picturesque again today. On wide fields, lush pastures and small forests, it is usually gentle uphill and often lively downhill. From the heights you have in many places a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. Small villages and old castles offer themselves on the way for varied breaks.At the end of the stage you leave the hills behind you and roll back down to the coast, where the stage destination Banff with its historic old town, beautiful beaches and good food, fresh from the sea, is waiting for you.
Today you can look forward to a varied stage. On the way from Banff to Nairn you cycle through gentle hills, along the picturesque coast and through flat fields and meadows. The first kilometers behind Banff meander directly along the sea. Here you can let the North Sea breeze blow around your nose. Afterwards, the trail takes you a bit off the coast over magical green hills back to the sea. On beautiful bike paths you can enjoy the view of the rocky coast with its bays and beaches.After crossing the River Spey on an old bridge, you will travel inland and along mostly flat roads past wide fields and meadows. On the way you come through different places where you can rest well. Some also have a train station, such as Nairn, if you want to change to the train.
You can almost see the waypoint from Nairn. It lies on the other bank of the Moray Firth, which you will cycle around today. To get from Nairn to Cromarty, head west to Inverness. The path leads you through the middle of nature, past picturesque meadows and romantic forests that stretch across rolling hills.Inverness is halfway and therefore well suited for a break. Rested and invigorated, you then cycle over the Kessock Bridge to the other side of the estuary. Here you climb again into the hills, which will inspire you with their unique nature highlights such as romantic forests or the Markie Burn waterfall. On the last few kilometers, you can then well-deserved roll on a rapid descent to the stage destination Cormarty.
The further north you go, the more sparsely populated the country is. You will also notice that on today's stage, which will take you from Cormarty to Lairg. On long stretches you cycle through unique landscape with untouched nature.Right at the beginning you will take the ferry from Cormarty to Nigg. Afterwards, you will pass meadows and fields, which will gradually be replaced by forests and untouched nature. A large part of the route will take you along the coast of a branch of the sea, where you will occasionally come through small villages where you can rest and partially transfer to the train, in case you want to shorten or the weather does not play along. Finally, you reach the top of the estuary, where several rivers converge. You follow the River Shin upriver and immerse yourself in wonderfully wild nature that accompanies you to the final destination.
Today is the first time on this bike tour really through the lonely nature of Scotland. On the way from Lairg to Bettyhill you will seldom get past a stop-over, so it is advisable to pack enough provisions for the stage.To start off, cycle a short distance along the southern end of Loch Shin and then follow River Tirry upriver through its picturesque valley. Past green hills, which are covered with robust grass and partly forest, it goes up and up. Shortly before the highest point of the stage, you cross the River Tirry, which rises nearby in the hills. Afterwards, an enjoyable, long descent begins parallel to the River Vagastie, which meanders through the rugged landscape of the Highlands to Altnaharra. In the hamlet there is a hotel and a bed and breakfast. After Altnaharra, continue north along the beautiful shores of Loch Loyal, crossing some hills and wild rivers until you reach Bettyhill on the north coast of Scotland.
On the way from Bettyhill to Thruso you cycle east on the north coast of Scotland. The coastal road does not lead directly along the shore of the sea, but through the beautiful, wild hills near the coast. From the heights you can enjoy breathtaking views, pass small holes and have the opportunity to make one or the other detour to secluded beaches hidden between rocks and green hills. On the way you also cycle through small villages, where there are some places to stay and rest.The stage destination is the coastal town of Thurso, where you can end the day on the beach or pay a visit to the old castle ruins.
Today you will leave the mainland and continue your cycling tour on the islands of Scotland. From Thurso you cycle past fields and meadows eastwards. The small hills that you cross offer you a great view. On the coast you have the opportunity to take a break on the beach and let the salty breeze blow around your nose.In John o'Groats, you leave the mainland on the ferry and transfer to the Orkney Islands. There, on the way to the stage destination Kirkwall, you will find many beautiful beaches, picturesque hills, magnificent views of the rough sea, wide meadows and fields and the one or other village for a little break in between.From Kirkwall we continue by ferry to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. The ferry operates four times in summer and three times a week in winter. The crossing takes place at night and takes about eight hours. More information about the ferry and the timetable can be found here: northlinkferries.co.uk.
After traveling north on the North Sea Cycle Route through Scotland, you cycle south along the North Sea coast of Shetland Island, Mainland. The route from Lerwick to Sumburgh takes you through grassy hills that are so characteristic of the whole island. Small charming villages are on the way and unique passages along the rugged coast are waiting for you. In some places, you have a breathtaking view of the rocky coast and the rough North Sea.The stage destination is Sumburgh, here is the southernmost point of the island of Mainland, which you can explore during a short walk around the lighthouse.
From the southernmost point on the island of Mainland, the North Sea Cycle Route leads you back north today. On the way from Sumburgh to Voe, you will start on the same route as the day before. So you have the opportunity again to take a break at your favorite places and to take souvenir photos.As soon as you turn west to Scalloway, you will leave the route of the previous stage. The track that lies ahead of you will definitely enchant you. It leads you through the green hills of the island, along the shores of lonely sounds and lochs and now and then through small villages. The stage destination Voe is also a small, idyllic village on the banks of a sound. Here, above all, you can enjoy the tranquility and nature but also a well-deserved meal in the village restaurant Pier Head Restaurant & Bar.
Today you leave Mainland and get to know two more Shetland Islands. In addition, you will reach the northernmost point of the North Sea Coast Cycle Route in Scotland on this stage.On the way from Voe to Saxa Vord you cycle alternately along the coast and over small hills to Toft. From there take the ferry to Ulsta on Yell Island. From the south of the island you drive once across the island to Gutcher, which is located on the northeast coast. Your constant companions are the picturesque green hills. With the ferry you leave the island of Yell and transfer to Belmont on the island of Unst. Along Lochs and through hills, which seem to reach to the horizon, you cycle further north, past the finish line Saxa Vord to the beach Norwick Beach. This lonely beach is the northernmost point of your journey. Here you can enjoy the sea view and spend a moment. Afterwards you cycle the short distance back to Saxa Vord, the stage destination.
Today, the last leg of the North Sea Cycle Route through Scotland and the whole North Sea Cycle Route is on its way. It takes you from the north of the island of Unst on the North Sea coast back to Lerwick, where you started the tour on the Shetland Islands.You cycle back to Voe on the same way you drove on the way there, and then you take the ferry twice again, which takes you from one island to the other. After Voe, turn east and cycle to the sea. Here you will experience the North Sea coast once again from its most beautiful, hardest and most original side. The typical green hills should not be missing on the way to Lerwick. A last stage, which you can enjoy to the fullest and on which you once again the most beautiful sides of the Shetlandinseln see.In Lerwick, the destination of the tour, you can let your gaze wander over the North Sea to the horizon. There, right in front of you, lies Bergen in Norway, where the first leg of the North Sea Cycle Route begins. There is hardly a better place to review this grandiose tour. To complete your trip around the North Sea, you can take the ferry from Lerwick to Bergen. Otherwise, you also have the opportunity to take the ferry via Kirkwall to Aberdeen back to the Scottish mainland and then leave by train or plane.