It’s been a tough few months for those of us who like getting out and about on bike. Our regular trails and roads have taken a fair pounding, although lockdown has given us the opportunity to follow our noses and see what lies round the next corner.
With restrictions on our ability to travel starting to ease a bit, it’s time to start planning some riding for later in summer when we’ll hopefully be able to spread our wings a bit further. We’ve picked five of our favourite rides, all with downloadable GPX files so you can start planning your next trip to the best wee country in the world.
Being Scottish, we’re a wee bit biased when it comes to the bike riding in or home country, but when you mix our rugged terrain and stunning scenery with our progressive access laws, Scotland really is one country you need to visit. Sometimes the weather doesn’t play ball, but we’re on hand with the gear you need to survive the worst that a Scottish summer can throw at you.
We've pulled together some of our favourite Scottish rides to help give you some ideas for better times, all with dowloadable GPX files (just click the maps below to follow the links) so you can start planning your next trip to the best wee country in the world.
The Five Ferries
A west coast classic that takes riders on a trip through fjord-like landscapes using five ferries to link the various bis of the mainland with the islands of Arran and Bute for an unforgettable trip. It’s rugeed, but not too remote with chances to refuel along the way in Portavadie, Tighnabruich, Tarbert, Collintraive and Rothesay.
The Backcountry Bothy
We head to the mountains for this MTB route. Starting in Dalwhinnie, you ride into the very heart of the Highlands, along the shores of Loch Ericht and a cheeky bit of hike-a-bike to the remote bothy at Ben Alder Cottage. Take a rest or stay the night, it’s up to you – just watch out for the ghost... The return leg takes you up and over the Bealach Dubh on miles of exquisite singletrack back to Dalwhinnie and it’s whisky distillery.
Home to The Duke’s Weekender, the Queen Elizabeth Forest is cross-crossed by miles and miles of forest roads that are ripe for exploring on a gravel. This route starts in Aberfoyle and makes use of a private road along Loch Katrin for a long, rewarding day in the saddle.
The Munro Bagger
The Munros are Scottish mountains with a height over 3,000 feet (914.4m) and named after Sir Hugh Munro, who produced the first list of them back in 1891. There are 292 Munros listed by the Scottish Mountaineering Club and although all are hard work and some of them need the ridiculous skills of Danny MacAskill, there are more than a few that make for a big day out.
If you’re hankering after some time at altitude, then Beinn Dearg from Blair Atholl is an achievable goal. There’s a bothy on this one that makes for a great place to take a breather after the rocky descent from the summit. Although they’re small by international standards, Scottish hills can still be challenging environments, so make sure you know what you’re doing or maybe think about hiring a guide for the day.
Back to Scotland’s west coast and a challenging route on tarmac from Portavadie – 130km of great views, brutal climbs and roads with grass up the middle. Stay at Portavadie for a spot of luxury after your ride – the view from the outside pool is just astounding.
Scotland’s weather can be “changeable” so make sure you’re well equiped. For the offroad routes, always carry a map and compass and brush up on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.