Cycling Scotland’s west coast islands
My cycling stories in the Daily Record! Nice!
Get on your bike and see some of Scotland’s most beautiful islands
THE biggest attraction of the Scottish islands, including Cumbrae, Bute, Arran and the Inner and Outer Hebrides, are their easy accessibility by ferry and the bike-friendly roads.
BOARDING a ferry on the west coast of Scotland with only my bike and a couple of panniers of clothing might seem pretty low-key but it always makes me grin with excitement.
My heart pounds at the thought of a holiday adventure and my mind relaxes as I look forward to the freedom of cycling wherever I wish and at whatever speed I fancy.
The biggest attraction of the Scottish islands, including Cumbrae, Bute, Arran and the Inner and Outer Hebrides, are their easy accessibility by ferry and the bike-friendly roads.
Add in the amazing diversity of landscapes, stunning wildlife, friendly welcomes at villages and towns and a true sense of getting-away-from-it all and it’s no wonder I repeatedly return to cycling trips in this part of Scotland.
Over the years, I’ve cycled thousands of miles across Scotland, but it’s on the islands that I’ve seen the best beaches (west coast of Harris) and had the closest encounters with wild seals (Arran), otters (South Uist) and white-tailed eagles (Mull).
I’ve also cycled in the most favourable weather conditions. Several years ago, in the Outer Hebrides, I was propelled by a wonderful south-westerly wind for 75 miles from Barra to Harris while basking in April sunshine.
Another reason for two-wheel trips to the isles is the fun of island hopping.
I like the route planning, followed by the focus of riding between ferry ports and the joy of catching each ferry, sometimes with only minutes to spare.
One glorious September day last year, a Five Ferries Cycle Challenge saw me cycling 72 miles via Arran, the Kintyre and Cowal peninsulas and Bute, with ferries in between.
In contrast, a relatively flat cycle tour on Islay some years before was a good deal more leisurely, with numerous opportunities to sample whisky at the famous distilleries. I’m not going to say how many I stopped at, but I do remember feeling very happy with myself!
This summer, I’m planning a 55-mile “round Arran” bike ride with my partner and a 10-mile “round Cumbrae” cycle with my daughter.
There is just so much to explore on two wheels in the Scottish isles.