New Sustrans bike route: Oban to Ballachulish, Scotland
In the summer I chanced upon a few new sections of beautifully smooth and welcoming bike path near the village of Ballachullish. I was so impressed that I stopped during my bike ride to take a pic of the oh-so-lovely new tarmac. I found out then that Sustrans were aiming to create a 25-mile bike and walk route from Oban to Ballachullish. Now this route has been opened.
I get excited about these things. I love cycling and I’m confident enough to cycle on most roads but to find an ultra smooth and fast cycleway is always a treat. This also means that when encouraging more people to take up cycling I have extra off-road routes to point them towards.
The new route has been in the making since 2007. Sustrans have worked with Highland and Argyll & Bute Councils, Transport Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland to create the traffic free cycling and walking trail using a former railway line that ran from Connell to the slate quarries near Ballachulish.
The project is supported with funds from Transport Scotland’s sustainable transport team, the European Regional Development Fund, Argyll & Bute and Highland Councils and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
This disused line is now part of the National Cycle Network in Scotland providing thousands of miles of accessible paths so that people can get around locally without having to always rely on their car or can enjoy some great leisurely days out in the area.
The route has been divided into smaller sections so whether you are having a day out with children, or just fancy a short ride or walk, this guide has something for everyone.
The route is also part of a larger route being created as part of the National Cycle Network, which stretches from Oban to Fort William. It will go along the east shore of Loch Linnhe, and will be 46miles long with the majority being traffic free. The aim is to have this full route completed by 2014 when it will become part of Route 78 of the National Cycle Network running from Campbeltown to Inverness (228 miles in total). This will be called The Caledonia Way.
I am becoming more excited about this route with every word that I write! I love new cycle routes and I have already pedalled many of them across Scotland.
Here are the route details:
Oban to Dunbeg – 3.5 miles
Head north out of Oban along the coast, past the Dog Stone and the ruins of Dunollie Castle. After the sandy beach at Ganavan, the path heads across the moorland to Dunbeg to the ruins of Dunstaffnage Castle, the marine Institute and the Marina.
The Benderloch Loop – 4 miles
From Benderloch, head past the beautiful sands of Tralee Beach and follow the route as far as Barcaldine Castle before heading back to Benderloch. The circular route also has chances to explore further with tracks leading from the Barravulin area to the southern shore of the peninsula or go on some minor roads to the nature reserve at Shian Woods and the island of Eriska.
Loch Creran to Loch Linnhe – 13 miles
A wonderful scenic route almost entirely traffic free using parts of the old railway line, forest paths and along the roadside. With gorgeous views across the sea loch as you head north towards Duror, passing through Barcaldine and Appin. At Appin, look out for the Sheep Fank seat and a close up view of Castle Stalker from the shore.
Kentallen to South Ballachulish – 3 miles
Starting at the Holly Tree Hotel, this is one of the most scenic sections of the route, running along the shore on the line of the disused railway. A diversion into the woods of Leitir Mohr, leads to the cairn marking the spot where Colin Campbell (The Red Fox) was shot dead in 1752. Then head through the settlement of Glenahulish (with access to mountain bike trails). Then it’s back on the railway path, ending just to the south of Ballachulish bridge.
Pick up your free copy of the Oban to Ballachulish guide at these places:
- Oban VisitScotland Information Centre
- Ballachulish Tourist Information Centre
- Fort William VisitScotland Information Centre
- Highland Council
- Tyndrum Visit Scotland Tourist information Centre
- Argyll & Bute Council
- Local bike shops/bike hire outlets
To find out more see: Sustrans