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Guest blog: Five great cycling holidays

Written by Fiona February 17 2013

My guest blogger Leon reveals his top three cycling holidays. One I am familiar with (the LEJoG) and the other two intrigue me. My top cycling holidays have been (in no particular order): Cycling the Cols of the French Pyrenees (twice!), cycling the French Alps, cycling the length of the Outer Hebrides, cycling the Great Glen Way, cycling the Lochs and Glens of Scotland. What are your top cycling holidays?

Guest blogger’s top 3 cycling holidays

imgres-56A cycling holiday is a great way to keep fit and relax at the same time. Travelling in the open air on two wheels as you power yourself through along the road also offers you the chance to get closer to your surroundings than if you were to go by car. All you need is your bike, panniers, a lightweight tent or bivvy bag (if you plan to camp), some food, your trusty puncture repair kit and you’re set for the trip of a lifetime. Here are three of the best cycling holidays around (in my opinion).

Before you set off, it’s a good idea to get yourself some comprehensive insurance cover. Although not obligatory, getting covered will put your mind at ease and help you out if you have an argument with a car and need to make any holiday injury claims.

Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle trip

The cycle ride from one end of the British Isles to the other is one of the most famous in the UK. The distance between Land’s End in Cornwall and John O’Groats in Caithness in the Scottish Highlands is just 40 miles short of 1,000 miles. Although an intimidating number, as long as you’ve got enough time you can take on the ride at your own leisure. The traditional route takes you along the A 30 in Cornwall up past the Severn Bridge in Somerset, before you reach Scotland via Shrewsbury and the Lake District. In Scotland you’ll pass Loch Ness and the remote hills of the highlands. The experience alone of completing such a trip makes all the effort worth it, however, along the way there are some incredible sights and sounds too.

Cycling the Netherlands

The Netherlands in mainland Europe is one of the cycling capitals of the world. The country, home to around 17 million inhabitants, only covers a total area of 41,543 km squared, however almost every inch of it is reachable on two wheels. The capital Amsterdam is the best place to start any cycling holiday in the Netherlands, the city has plenty of cycle paths and lots of monuments grouped closely together, to ease you into your ride. In Amsterdam you’ll find a Madame Tussauds, the Defense Line and a large network of canals. South of the capital is the stylish town of Utrecht, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site the Rietveld Schröder House, as well as Rotterdam and Eindhoven. At its longest point, the total length of the Netherlands is just 638 miles, a distance that can be completed comfortably in around two weeks.

Costa Rica to Panama

The Central American countries of Costa Rica and Panama are two of the most picturesque in the world. The tropical weather seen in the two countries makes them perfect for holiday destination, and the distance of just 300 miles between the capital cities make for an even better cycle ride. Starting from San Jose in Costa Rica, a gentle route takes you down through Cahuita and Bocas del Toro, along the Pan American highway before reaching Panama City, the capital of Panama. The route also incorporates plenty of rural villages and includes an amazing ferry ride across the famous Panama Canal.

I thought I’d add a couple of my favourite cycling holidays in Scotland, too:

Cycling the Lochs and Glens

The Lochs and Glens cycle is a fantastic tour through the Scottish Highlands on National Cycleway Route 7 from Callandar to Pitlochry. The route heads north past Loch Lubnaig and through Glen Ogle to the village of Killin, which lies at the southern end of Loch Tay. Following the shore of the loch, you past the fascinating Scottish Crannog Centre, Dewar’s World of Whisky and Taymouth Castle. There’s tons to see on this bike ride! Aberfeldy is next, before oyu head to the Victorian spa town of Pitlochry. Take you time to see the attractions here,  including Dunkeld Cathedral, Blair Castle and Queen’s View. For a self-guided cycle tour that is helpfully arranged for you see Macs Adventure Lochs and Glens

West cost island hopping

CalMac ferries offers island hopping tickets that take you and your bike from one island to the next for as long or as short as you fancy. The isles each boast a unique character, from Bute and Arran to Skye, Mull and the Outer Hebrides. I have explored many of the islands by bike and it is by far the best way to travel. A top favourite is the route from south to north along the gorgeous Hebridean islands. Macs Adventure also offer a Scottish Island Hopscotch cycle holiday.

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