Fab Scottish cycling Routes: Drumbeg Coastal
This fabulously scenic route via Drumbeg on the Assynt coast in north-west Scotland has been suggested by Scot Tares, a life-long cycling fan and now owner of Skinny Tyres, a road cycling tour and holiday company.
The route: Drumbeg Coastal Cycle
Distance: 40 miles (with possible 30-mile extension)
Start and finish: Inchnadamph Hotel
Overview: The Drumbeg coastal road circles the soaring buttresses of Quinag (pronounced “koonyak”). Big climbs and fat descents all rolled into a route that takes your breath away on every turn.
The route: Inchnadamph is on the shores of Loch Assynt and offers one of the most gorgeous scenic starts to any cycle in Scotland. Heading from the hotel car park you’ll spot the first climb of the day snaking up the shoulder of Quinag. This first ascent is steady and any hardship is offset by the views offered all around. From the summit there comes the reward of a long and fast descent towards the Kylesku Bridge, before turning left off of the A894 and on to the smaller single track B869. If you have never seen the Kylesku Bridge before, the extra 3 mile out and back detour is worth the pedalling effort.
A word of warning! It’s a good idea to set off early for this ride. At the height of the tourist season there can be a lot of traffic on the roads so try to go before the visitors head off in their cars.
The next few miles head through thick oak woodland that clings to the steep slopes and occasionally you are given brief glances of Eddrachilliss Bay. The riding here is very pleasant and on a day of blue skies you can imagine yourself riding along a rocky Mediterranean coastline.
As you ride on, passing the villages of Drumbeg and the wonderfully named Nedd, the trees thin out and the road becomes more rolling until you get to some serious descending and ascending on slopes of up to 20% gradient. These climbs will have you out of the saddle and pulling on the bars to get the wheels turning.
The coast is regained as the road cuts through a solid rockface that drops steeply down to beautiful sandy beaches. From here on the road is rolling, but the gradients are gentler as you swoop past beaches and villages.
All to soon the road rejoins the A837 at Lochinver and all that remains is a fast 12 miles back to Inchnadamph, past the ruins of Ardvreck Castle and hopefully with a tailwind.
An extension: This route can be extended for another 30 miles or so by turning right at Lochinver and then following the unclassified Inverkirkaig road that swings around below Stac Pollaidh and then return to Inchnadamph via Elphin. This extension follows the route of the Ullapool Beag sportive held every September and promoted by Hands On Events.
A wee bit about Scot Tares: He has been cycling since he was two when his dad, a racing cyclist, popped him on a bike sans stabilisers. Toddler Scot immediately went over the handlebars – but strangely he wasn’t put off. A we bit older, Scot raced with Perth United Cycling Club and he’s now a Level 2 British Cycling Coach. Over the last year he has launched a new business Skinny Tyres, which models the popular road cycling training camps in the Alps and Pyrenees, but i Scotland. Skinny Tyres provides fully supported road cycling tours around the Highlands of Scotland. Riders are treated to fantastic routes supported by experienced guides, vehicle back-up, road riding skills coaching, maintenance workshops, post-ride sports massage and lots of other extras. If you watched the most recent Adventure Show on TV you would have spotted Scot putting presenter Dougie Vipod through his paces on a racer bike.