Shop
Discover

Cycling Coast to Coast through the Scottish wilds – Caledonia Way

Simaron (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cycling Coast to Coast through the Scottish wilds – Caledonia Way

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

7-15

days

3-6 h

/ day

458 mi

25,225 ft

25,375 ft

Golden beaches hug glistening lochs, ospreys circle above dense woodland, quiet life plays out in remote coastal villages, and stunning castles crown islands off the coast – there is no place in the world quite like Scotland.

This Collection presents the magnificent Caledonia Way. Over 9 stages, you cycle 220 miles (360 km) from Campbeltown on the Kintyre Peninsula to Inverness, the “capital” of the Highlands, completing this coast to coast challenge.

The Caledonia Way is one of Scotland’s classic scenic cycling routes. Expect stunning vistas as you explore the Kintyre Peninsula and follow the Great Glen fault line, passing some of Scotland’s most famous spots along the way. Loch Ness, the Caledonian Canal and Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, lie en route.

Scotland is a haven for cycle touring. Secluded country lanes and cycle paths transport you to otherworldly nature brimming with lochs, ancient forests, abundant wildlife, and rugged hills. But, you should still be prepared to share some busier stretches with motorists, especially during the height of the tourist season.

This route is suitable for all novice bike tourers who are looking for a challenge and more experienced adventurers. There are a few big climbs to tackle and your legs need to power up a total of 2,066 feet (630 m) of elevation gain in one day.

If your fitness level will struggle, consider riding an e-bike. Guesthouses and campsites en route offer charging (sometimes at an additional fee), but be sure to plan ahead so you don’t run out of charge.

Known for its beauty and history, this area of Scotland is a popular wilderness escape. As such, you can often find accommodation even in the smallest of villages. However, the stretches in between populated areas can be long and remote so make sure you always carry enough food and water with you.

Although few and far between, the villages and towns that line the route are overflowing with charm. Marvel at rural Scottish life as you explore legendary towns such as Fort William, Spean Bridge and Fort Augustus.

As wild camping is legal in almost all of Scotland, I recommend packing your camping gear. Nothing quite beats waking up with the sun in your tent surrounded by beautiful nature (weather-permitting of course). Don’t forget to leave-no-trace and camp responsibly though, you can find advice on how to do that here: visitscotland.com/accommodation/caravan-camping/wild-camping

As is true in most of Scotland, spring and autumn are the best seasons to ride the Caledonia Way. In the height of summer, expect the nature spots to be crowded. Midges can also become a real pest, so pack insect repellent and nets, especially if you're camping. Whichever season you choose, pack your waterproofs as the weather can turn at any time of year.

The Caledonia Way follows the National Cycle Network 78 and is well-signposted the whole way. I recommend riding it from Campbeltown to Inverness as the inclines are much more gentle in this direction.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reach the start of your adventure in Campbeltown, unless you drive. The closest train station is 100 miles (160 km) away in Oban. There are buses running from Glasgow but check ahead of time if they can take your bike. Flying is also an option, with two flights per week operating between Glasgow and Campbeltown airport.

The Caledonia Way features on many cyclists’ bucket lists for good reason. You’d be hard pushed to find a more stunning bike route, not just in the UK, but in the world.

For more inspiration, check out Adventure Syndicate's Lee Cragie's journey along the Caledonia Way here:

On The Map

loading
loading

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Intermediate
    01:55
    17.2 mi
    8.9 mph
    1,300 ft
    1,225 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Wild and windswept landscapes await on your first day of adventure as you ride 16.1 miles (26 km) up the Kintyre Peninsula.

    Your journey begins in Campbeltown, a lovely town once labelled the “whisky capital of the world”. Back in the day, 32 distilleries produced whisky here, but just three remain open today.

    Stage 1 throws you into spectacular remote …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    02:35
    25.1 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With seascapes, layered hills and stunning wilderness in abundance, Stage 2 continues your magical journey along the Kintyre Peninsula. Today you cover 24.8 miles (40 km) from Carradale to Tarbert.

    The route is rarely flat during this stage as it follows wavy hills along the seafront, climbing 1,640 feet (500 m) in total. You also won’t find many shops so …

    by
    Amy
  • Sign Up To Discover Places Like This

    Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.

  • Intermediate
    02:48
    28.1 mi
    10.0 mph
    875 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Watch Ospreys swoop above glistening lochs on stage 3 as you cycle 28 miles (45.2 km) from Tarbert to Ford.

    Setting off from the fishing village of Tarbert, you start with the biggest climb of the day. With only 885.8 feet (270 m) of climbing spread out over the day, it’s an easy challenge to conquer.

    Head north and follow …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    02:53
    26.6 mi
    9.2 mph
    2,075 ft
    2,150 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With vast lochs and tumbling waterfalls, water will always be near as you continue to explore beautiful Scottish scenery today, riding 26.6 miles (42.9 km) from Ford to Taynuilt.

    The scenes leaving Ford are lovely, with natures green hues on full display. In the distance, you see gentle hills which you meet many times throughout the day; you have 2,066 …

    by
    Amy
  • Intermediate
    02:28
    25.0 mi
    10.2 mph
    950 ft
    975 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Regal castles overlooking sprawling lochs and stunning nature await as you cycle from Taynuilt to Appin on stage 5.

    After a quick detour to visit the Bonawe Iron Furnace, head west along the A85. This section towards Connel is more prone to traffic, especially in summer. If you are uncomfortable sharing the road, you can always hop on the train …

    by
    Amy
  • Intermediate
    02:45
    26.9 mi
    9.8 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,400 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Castles rising from inlets surrounded by glistening lochs, roads winding through hills and water, and villages shadowed by misty mountains – stage 6 has the potential to become your best day on a bike ever.

    Setting off from Appin, today you ride 27.9 miles (45 km) to the famous town of Fort William.

    Your day begins along the shores of …

    by
    Amy
  • Intermediate
    02:41
    25.2 mi
    9.4 mph
    975 ft
    975 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Lochs, wild landscapes and lovely towns and villages define stage 7 of the Caledonia Way.

    This stage takes you 25.1 miles (40.5 km) from Fort William to Laggan, stopping at incredible sites along the way.

    First off, make a small detour to visit the Caledonian Canal after which this route was named, before joining a cycleway that juts off from …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    02:52
    24.7 mi
    8.6 mph
    1,775 ft
    1,700 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 8 takes you along the picturesque Caledonian Canal and up the biggest climb of your adventure – spectacular views are guaranteed!

    From Laggan, you cycle 24.6 miles (39.7 km) to Foyers, climbing 1,770 feet (540 m) in total.

    The route begins along a cycle path which traces the Caledonian Canal and Loch Oich for 10.5 miles (17km) to Fort …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    02:57
    25.6 mi
    8.7 mph
    1,575 ft
    1,925 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your final day of adventure leads 26 miles (42 km) along Scotland’s most famous loch, Loch Ness, and into the magical city of Inverness.

    From Foyers, take a secluded lane running parallel to the magnificent Loch Ness. Known for its monster, Loch Ness attracts thousands of visitors each year for its beauty and legend.

    Pass the Clan Fraser Cemetery and …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    21:10
    234 mi
    11.0 mph
    12,650 ft
    12,625 ft
    Ferry
    Expert e-bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    This is the complete route of the Caledonia Way, a wonderful coast to coast through the wilds of Scotland. You can find a more detailed, day by day itinerary, here: komoot.com/collection/919804

    by
    Amy

Like this Collection?

Comments

    loading

Collection Stats

  • Tours
    10
  • Distance
    458 mi
  • Duration
    45:04 h
  • Elevation
    25,225 ft25,375 ft

You Might Also Like

A British Solo Adventure

Bike Touring Collection by

 Cycling Through A Pandemic

21 family-friendly bike rides in the UK

Bike Touring Collection by

 Cycling UK

The Netherlands' biggest circle — 600 km in 36 hours

Road Cycling Collection by

 Quinda

Saale Cycle Path part 1 – four sporty stages through the Thuringian Forest

Bike Touring Collection by

 Saaleradweg

Discover

Cycling Coast to Coast through the Scottish wilds – Caledonia Way