- Essential Information
- Daily Breakfast
- Items of a personal nature
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- Baggage Handling - Please contact us for a quote
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Day 1 – Arrive Inverness
Check in to your accommodation and explore Inverness. There are several good pubs and restaurants. The Castle Tavern is always popular, and you might want to make a booking with Rocpool Rendezvous as a treat on your return at the end of the week. If you’ve got time swing by our base in Bellfield Park to try the bikes or pick up last-minute essentials from the town centre
Cycle Inverness to Aviemore: 35 miles / 2543ft | 54km / 775m
Depart Inverness at the mouth of the River Ness and head south along the signposted cycle route number 7. The route climbs steadily as you leave the city and crosses the River Nairn valley with views of the 29 span railway viaduct at Clava which is the longest masonry viaduct in Scotland at 1800 ft (549 m). As the road emerges from the forest onto more open moorland the route tracks and then crosses the River Findhorn just south of Tomatin. Tomatin is the last chance for refreshments before Carrbridge and also provides the first distillery visiting opportunity of the tour. The Findhorn is one of Scotland’s longest rivers, popular with kayakers and anglers. The mountain pass at Slochd marks the highest point in the route today. This pass is an ancient route and was formerly a “drove road” used to move cattle on the hoof from Highland crofts to markets in southern Scotland. Carrbridge is home to “Carve Carrbridge” the Scottish Chainsaw Carving Competition each September and “The Golden Spurtle” World Porridge Making Championship in October. During the rest of the year, most visitors will spend time at the Landmark Forest Visitor Centre. Although Landmark is most popular with families, there is much there for adults to enjoy too. The Bridge from which the village gets its name dates from 1717 and is the oldest in the highlands. The day ends in Aviemore, once a railway junction, then ski resort and now a bustling village, popular all-year-round with visitors to the Cairngorms National Park.
Cycle Aviemore to Newtonmore Return 32miles/1755ft | 51km/535m
The village of Newtonmore is the village closest to the geographical centre of Scotland. The Highland Folk Museum is a fantastic open-air depiction of highland life through history and was featured early on in the TV series Outlander. The route there passes The Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig. The Highland Wildlife Park is affiliated to Edinburgh Zoo. It is home to many of the species that have at one time or another been native to the Highlands including pine martens, wildcat, lynx, wolves, owls and most recently Hamish the first polar bear cub to be born in Scotland for 25 years. The return route passes the remains of Ruthven Barracks which was built following the first Jacobite Rebellion in 1715 and saw action in the build up to and aftermath of the Battle of Culloden thirty years later. It’s nearly three hundred years since the Battle of Culloden but you can still witness skirmishes between Highlanders if you catch a game of Shinty. Shinty is the traditional ball and stick game contested between teams of twelve which shares a common ancestry with Irish hurling. Newtonmore and Kingussie and two of the most successful teams in Shinty and games take place most Saturdays throughout the summer
Cycle Aviemore Grantown On Spey: 19 miles / 974ft | 31km / 297m
Just a short cycle today so maybe tackle the zip wires, balance beams, hanging platforms at TreeZone, head on to the water at Loch Morlich or travel back to the age of steam The Strathspey Steam Railway a 10 mile section of the old Highland line brought back to life by volunteers. The cycle route winds north east through the native pines and juniper of the Abernethy Forest, home to red squirrels, wildcats, deer, grouse and birds of prey. You can find out more about the natural heritage of the area and Ospreys in particular at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve at Loch Garten. The pretty forest village of Nethybridge provides a convenient refreshment stop on the way to today’s destination the traditional Highland town of Grantown on Spey
Cycle Grantown On Spey to Dufftown 33 miles / 2513ft | 53km / 766m
This is definitely the “lumpiest” day of the cycling holiday as you traverse the moorland landscape at the northern edge of the Cairngorm Mountains. Tomintoul is the highest village in the highlands and provides a good opportunity to refuel after the biggest climbs of the day. Tomintoul has a great wee art gallery and the range of Whiskies for sale at The Whisky Castle will amaze anyone. It’s not all downhill after lunch but there are a couple of long descents along Glenlivet then Glen Rinnes to the “Malt Whisky Capital of the World” – Dufftown. Dufftown is home to the world famous Glenfiddich Distillery which has a top-rated visitor centre.
Cycle Dufftown to Elgin 33 miles / 1512ft | 52km / 461m
Much of the flavour of whisky comes from the barrels in which it matures and a visit to the Cooperage at Craigellachie, just four miles out of Dufftown, is highly recommended. One of the most famous whisky names, The Macallan has opened a fabulous new distillery and visitor centre just south of Craigellachie where you can see how the traditions of whisky production are married to modern technology. The route sticks pretty close to the River Spey as you descend steadily towards the coast. Fochabers lies at the halfway mark and here you can visit Baxters Highland Village which is part museum, part shop, part cafe at the home of the Baxters food company or the restaurant at the Walled Garden of Gordon Castle. Continue towards Spey Bay where the river meets the sea. Here you‘ll find the Scottish Dolphin Centre a haven for seals, ospreys, coastal birds and of course dolphins. There’s much to learn and the location is beautiful too. Retrace your tracks to cross the Spey via the old railway bridge. The line once stretched from Elgin to Buckie but closed in the 1960s. Continue along the signposted NCN Route 1 through the village of Garmouth and on to Elgin. Here you visit Elgin Cathedral. The cathedral is mostly ruined but it is still an impressive medieval building with guided tours twice daily and great views from the tower. Close by is Johnstons of Elgin where you can tour this well known textile mill and see how raw cashmere is transformed into beautiful knitwear. Great shop and restaurant here too.
Cycle Elgin to Nairn 38 miles / 1398ft | 61km / 426m
Leave Elgin and cycle along quiet country lanes to the coastal village of Hopeman. Keep an eye out for dolphins again as you follow the coastal path to the nearby village of Burghead where the visitors centre tells the story of the area from its time as a pictish fort through to the herring boom which peaked in the early 1900s. A few miles further on you’ll pass the former air force base at Kinloss. This was once home to the RAF Nimrod anti-submarine squadron and mountain rescue operations. The small aviation museum “Morayvia” is highly recommended with many ex-airmen on hand to tell the story of the interactive exhibits. The route takes a short detour to the eco-village of Findhorn which has a beautiful beach, harbour and small heritage centre. Findhorn is also home to the well known spiritual community of The Findhorn Foundation. Return to Kinloss then pass by the attractive town of Forres, home to the Benromach distillery. From Forres the route again mostly follows the NCN route 1. Brodie Castle is far from ruined and is a great place to see how Scottish nobility lived from the 16th century onwards. The castle has an excellent collection of art and furnishing and an extensive library. You can eat at the castle or at the nearby Brodie Countryfare which has outstanding quality scottish products in its foodhall, clothing, gifts and interiors departments plus an ever popular restaurant. Continue along NCN1 by Culbin Forest to Nairn.
Cycle Nairn to Inverness 36 miles / 2024ft | 59km / 617m
Nairn is known for its two championship golf courses and the sandy beaches which attract crowds on sunny days. There’s a lot to pack in today with visits to the historic (and current) army base at Fort George, Cawdor Castle, Clava Cairns and Culloden Battlefield along the route you might need to plan your time carefully. Cawdor Castle is a fantastic place to visit to experience what life in a castle is like through history to the present day. There is a fun 9 hole golf course, woodland walks, gardens and restaurant. The Cawdor Tavern in the village serves excellent food too. The route then follows the south side of the Nairn valley and under the impressive masonry arches of the Culloden Viaduct, glimpsed on day one. Visit the prehistoric burial cairns of Bulnuaran of Clava which have long been a source of wonder and have gained international fame recently having featured in Outlander. Nearby lies Culloden Battlefield, site of the last battle fought on british soil in 1746. The top visitor centre shows the timeline of events before during and after the battle in great detail. Follow NCN1 again into Inverness then NCN78 back to the finish at our base in Bellfield Park.
More about Scotland
Outside the ancient and beautiful UNESCO World heritage capital city, Edinburgh, and other urban centres like Glasgow, once home to the largest shipping industry in the world but now a lively city of art, culture, great dining and bars, the visitor is entranced by mountains glistening with the silver threads of icy rivers and waterfalls tumbling from highlands to lowlands. Here you’ll find villages with stations where you need to put your hand out to request that a train stops and then suddenly, around the next mountain corner, a landscape peppered with gleaming lochs and expansive vistas.
Scotland has some of the last significant wilderness areas left in Western Europe. Here you can see golden eagles soar above the lochs and mountains of the northern Highlands, watch minke whales off the coast of Mull and spot otters tumbling in the kelp along the shores of the Outer Hebrides.
Scotland is also an adventure playground: you can tramp the sub-arctic tundra plateau of the Cairngorms, sea kayak among the seal-haunted mystic isles of the Outer Hebrides, mountain bike on world-class trails near Scotland’s highest mountain, trek along the valley or mountain trails and balance along tightrope narrow ridges between the peaks of the great Cuillins on Skye or take a speedboat ride into the legendary white water of the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
Scotland is a land with a rich and multilayered history. A place where every corner of the landscape is steeped in the past. A deserted croft on an island shore is a testament to generations past.
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