6 great family cycling routes in Scotland
Make the most of the summer and take the family out for a bike ride on one of these easier going Scottish cycling routes. You can read the full Sunday Mail article
Six great routes for family cycling
Make the most of the bank holiday weekend by heading off on a family cycling adventure.
Most children love the speed and freedom of cycling – and it’s one activity that can be enjoyed by all the family as a group.
The key to a great family ride is to be realistic about distances. Although many kids can easily ride dozens of miles it is a good idea to have a number of turn-round points planned, just in case.
The best rides take place on quiet or traffic-free routes so parents do not need to worry so much about safety.
Planning in a couple of interesting attractions, such as a playpark, castle or beach, will encourage children to ride further.
A cafe or ice-cream stop is also a must-do on a family bike ride and parents should always carry extra water and snacks to re-energise tired youngsters.
If you are looking for other ideas check out a range of Bike Week events, from June 11 to 19. See bikeweek.org.uk
Canal ride to Falkirk Wheel
Start: Bowling, Glasgow
Finish: Falkirk Wheel
Distance: 31 miles (you could start from locations closer to Falkirk, such as Clydebank, Kelvindale, Balmore, Cadder and Kirkintilloch).
Return: Trains run from Falkirk to Glasgow.
Surface: Gravel and tarmac.
The Forth and Clyde Canal trail links Glasgow to Falkirk providing a flat and almost entirely traffic-free walking and cycling route. There is only a short section on-road at Stockingfield Junction, Glasgow.
The highlight of this route is the iconic Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first and only rotating boatlift which connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.
Circuit of Great Cumbrae
Start/finish: Ferry port, Cumbrae.
Distance: 13 miles
Access: CalMac ferry from Largs to the island.
This is a real adventure that is highly achievable in a day. You can take bikes for free on the ferry.
Start at the port and ride clockwise or anticlockwise on the easygoing route that hugs the coast of the island.
You will pass through the town of Millport where there are cafes and ice cream shops. Also get kids to look out for the crocodile rock as you ride.
Loch Katrine sail and ride
Finish: Trossachs Pier
Distance: 13 miles
Access: SS Sir Walter Scott from Trossachs Pier, near Aberfoyle.
Children and adults alike will love this cycling adventure. Choose the Stronachlachar Sailing on the Steamship Sir Walter Scott from Trossachs Pier and ask for a single ticket. Take your bike with you and then get off at Stronachlachar and cycle back on the almost traffic-free road.
The route hugs the shores of this beautiful loch and also boasts a fantastic panorama over surrounding hills and mountains including Ben Venue.
The route is undulating and has a couple of longer hills so you will need easier gears – or you can simply get off to walk the bike uphill.
Parents can promise ice creams at the start and the finish thanks to well-located cafes.
West Loch Lomond Cycle Path
Distance: 17 miles (34 miles return)
Access: Trains run from Glasgow to Balloch, or you could drive to retail and attraction destination, Loch Lomond Shores, from Glasgow, Edinburgh or Stirling and use the car park.
Surface: Tarmac and some gravel.
As you might imagine the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path hugs the western shore of Scotland’s famous loch.
Starting at Balloch, you ride north passing the beautiful village of Luss and Firkin Point with its ancient oak woods.
The views over the loch on a fine day are stunning, especially across the water to the mountain of Ben Lomond.
If 34 miles in total is too far, simply choose a shorter out-and-back distance.
Loch Ard Sculpture Trails
Start/finish: Milton car park, west of Aberfoyle.
Distance: 16 miles of routes between 2 miles and 10 miles long.
Access: Drive to car park, or cycle 1.5 miles from Aberfoyle.
Surface: Forest trails.
There is an orientation point at the car park that includes a map of the five routes and an introduction to the Living in the Forest story.
The cycling trails are suitable for all abilities with signposts marking the way of each route. You’ll pass a number of lochs including Ard and Chon, and also Duchray Water and Kelty Water.
Kids will enjoy spotting chainsaw sculptures and willow weavings. The sculptures represent a range of animals and birds that are part of the natural food chain in the forest.
There are also posts that feature the sounds of local animals, such as a toad, deer, stag, great spotted woodpecker, jay and buzzard.
Leith to Portobello cycle
Start: Leith Links, Edinburgh
Finish: Joppa Road, Portobello
Distance: 5.5 miles return.
Access: Edinburgh can be reached by train or car. You could cycle from Waverley train station to Leith Links.
This route is part of 50 miles of cycling trails included in the Edinburgh Innertube Map. The signed “10 “route is on paths that are shared with pedestrians so people are asked to ride with care.
A well-surfaced path runs along the northern edge of Leith Links and across Seafield Place by a new bridge. It continues to Seafield Cemetery.
Cross Seafield Road and carry on along a shared-use pavement to reach the Portobello Promenade to Joppa. The sea views are lovely and Portobello provides plenty of places for a café stop or ice cream.
To find out about more about cycling in the capital, head to Edinburgh Festival of cycling as part of Bike Week 2016. See bikeweek.org.uk/event/edinburgh-festival-of-cycling/