Help planning tour to & of Scotland

Hi All

I start a new job on 21 August and am taking a month off beforehand, and want to get on the bike and see a bit more of Britain. It will be my first time touring on the bike and at this stage I’m going lone soldier but if anyone wants to join me for all or part then you’re more than welcome.

I’ve decided, loosely, on heading up to Scotland via the Lake District and Hadrian’s Wall.

I’m looking to get a nice balance between some good riding roads, spectacular scenery, nice people to meet and things to see and do. Is that too much to ask?:slight_smile:

I don’t want to spend all my time on the bike, so am looking to do around 250 - 300 miles a day. I have around 10 days in which to do it all, in early August.

What I’d really appreciate some help with is:

Suggestions for the best places to visit - should I stick to one side ie. East or West coast, or will I be able to get round the lot? I like the idea of heading over to one of the islands if possible.

Recommendations for biker friendly (and reasonably priced) places to stay. (Will I need to book in advance or can I just wing it day to day?)

Things not to miss and must do’s.

Recommendations of good riding routes for the route outlined above.

All advice/suggestions gratefully received.


West is best, IMHO.

From the borders to the top of the highlands you can’t go wrong - roads are great, people are great, scenery is err… great.

Callander is a nice little place right by the Trossachs - loads of good roads around there.

Green Welly stop at Tyndrum is a must - loads of bikes and you’re on the right road for Glencoe then.

Be warned, though, although it’s in Scotland they don’t server fried food.

Ft William is also a good place to be - in the shadow of Ben Nevis, there are loads of B&Bs (but you need to book)

Take the A87 (i think ) out of town towards the Kyle of Lochalsh - fantastico !

You can then work your way up to Inverness and wherever takes your fancy.

The borders are nice both east and west - there’s a nice road through the Cheviots in Northumberland that will take you into Scotland via Coldstream and then Edinburgh.

All I can remember off the top of my head at the mo…

Cheers for the tips Gurniman.
I was tending west also since that’s the side to head to the Isles, and it seems, the whisky too! :smiley:

I can do without the fried food so good to hear it won’t be much of an option.

The Edinburgh Festival is on in August and it would be terrible to miss it completely. Accomodation will be hard to find or very expensive if you leave it too late but there are loads of B+Bs and hostels and the tourist office can help you find a room.
You’ll be surprised how much you can see in a day in Scotland because its pretty small and places are really close eg 50mins between Edinburgh and Glasgow, 30 minutes from Edinburgh to Stirling. You wont need to do as much 200 miles a day if you have 10 nice long summer days :smiley:

Places I would recommend
Dumfries (if you come up the West coast you will pass by it so may as well stop here)
Loch Lomond
Loch Fyne (original famous Loch Fyne Oystar bar restaurant at Cairndow, slight detour on way up West Coast but you can then also visit Inveraray which has a lovely friendly local pub, oh and a castle and there are nice roads around here so you wont mind the extra miles)
Continue up the West Coast towards Fort William (although I have personally never really liked Fort William itself, we always passed that way when we had guests)
There is a bridge to Skye now so you could get there easily. I am embarrassed to say that I havent actually ever been.
Then up the side of Loch Ness to Inverness. Inverness is beautiful and you can visit Nairn which is really close.
From there you can decide whether to head down towards the Whisky distilleries eg Glenfiddich at Dufftown and continue south inland through Aviemore, Pitlochry and Blairgowrie or whether to head across towards Aberdeen and drive down the coast towards St Andrews.
Edinburgh for some of the festival/shows etc and you can head over to see Stirling and Bannockburn from there.
Jedburgh on the way back

I wouldnt find that at all rushed in 10 days but some people would. It depends how many days you want to stop in places and whether you mind moving on each day. It also depends if you will go and visit again in which case you could leave stuff till the next time. will help you with finding accommodation. The last time I took a trip in Scotland was in October 2006 and I was surprised how expensive accommodation worked out and there were 2 of us sharing a room. Also even though I wasnt the height of summer, it wasnt as easy to find as I had expected it to be. If you’re taking a tent and its not pissing down, things will be easier but Scotland is really busy in August because of all the people that come over for the Edinburgh festival and then travel around. Sadly that means you will need to plan a wee bit before going.

You’ll have a great time. I hope you get lucky with the weather.


Cant believe I forgot Callander and the Trossachs. I went there every summer from age 8 to 16 because we had a timeshare in Aberfoyle! I also cant believe that I forgot to warn you about the midges on the West Coast - take repellent although that just makes half as bad!

Definitely West Coast.

Getting up there - M1, M6 and M6 toll, Lake District overnight. Then M74 to the Lockerbie exit for Dumfries. From Dumfries takes the A712 to Newton Stewart and A714 up through Galloway Forest Park.

A77 and A78 will take you up through Ayr to Gourock, where you catch the short ferry ride to Dunoon. This is a great shortcut to the Highlands and saves f-ing about around Loch Lomond, which will be hootchin’ (which is Scots for crowded and not worth the hassle - trust me, I live there!).

From Dunoon take the A815 and A83 to Inverary. B&B and campsites there but you can easily push on to Loch Awe, where there are a couple of decent hotels, or onward via the A85 to Oban.

Oban is ferry central, and you can hop across to Mull and visit Tobermory (Ballamory, if you have children or are a student…) then take the short hop across to Lochaline and the A884 and then the A830 for either Fort William or Mallaig.

The A830, by the way, is the southern boundary for the Knoydart peninsula - one of the last great wildernesses in Britain. There are no roads aside from the single track dead-end road that goes from Invergarry to Kinloch Hourn. Great views, wonderful fishing, a good hotel at Tomintoul and remote camping or B&B at Kinloch Hourn, but not a road for speeding.

From Mallaig you can hop a short ferry to Skye, or from Fort William ride the A87 and take the bridge (now free). From Skye you can hop to Lewis and Harris, but not on a Sunday.

Heading back from Skye on the A87 take the A890 and then the A896 to Tomnapress, where you pick up the legendary Beallacha na ba - Pass of the Cattle - to Applecross. Lovely inn there, but can get busy.

More tomorrow when I have more time.

Sweet. Thanks for all that, and for the heads up re. the Edinburgh Festival. Will definitely have to fit a bit of that in while I’m there. Better start planning I guess as I don’t really want the hassle of carrying a tent as well as all the visor wipes I’m going to need by the sounds of it :w00t:

Cool. Ta very much for that. Looking forward to tomorrow’s edition! August can’t come soon enough.

Right … moving on.

Pick up the A896 and then A832 westbound at Kinlochewe. This will take you up and around in a great arc, eventually meeting the A835. Eastbound will take you in a short hop to Inverness, but personally, I’d go west to Ullapool and then north, joining the A837, A894 and A838 right the way up to Kyle of Tongue, where I’d go south down the A836 back towards Inverness. On the other hand you could press on to Thurso and Wick and back down the A9 to Inverness.

Aberdeen - a personal view here - has less to recommend it, and I’d run down the A9 to Pitlochry and Perth. Edinburgh, especially during the festival, is fab. Do book ahead, though.

Heading home - and if you still have a day or so in hand, I’d suggest the A7. Galashiels and Selkirk are pleasant and Kelso, too.

Then it’s A7 south until you hit the M6 at Carlisle.

Things to look out for:

Check you fuel stops in advance and assume that they may not all be open on a Sunday.

Do bring a tent - even if you hate camping, some places are so inviting you’ll want to stay.

Don’t fret too much about midgies - you can check where they’re likely to be worst on - and avoid! The coast suffers less, as a rule, and most of the time you won’t see them at all.

Local drivers can be very fast and not very careful. On the other hand, you can go miles without seeing another vehicle.

Get AA or RAC breakdown cover.

Temperature wise, it’s only very slightly cooler on average. However, in the hills the weather can change in a jiffy and it can get very cold and wet very quickly. So pack warm just in case.

But most of all, it’s so very, very lovely you’ll want to go back again and again.

Good luck, and I hope this has been of some help.


As has already been said - definately the west coast and islands.

We were in Skye in October and I spend the whole time driving round in the car wishing I had my bike. The main roads are quite swift, very twisty with amazing scenery.

I would go from Fort William to Mallaig (great for bikes), get the ferry accross to Skye, ride up to Portree and carry on the main road to the north of Skye. (maybe stopping at a B&B on the way).

You lucky bstd.

I’d echo everyone else here, except if you’re looking to “tour” in 10 days, the trick is going to be stringing it all together. Book B&B’s in advance that time of year.

Where are you starting? You could go up through the north York moors to Newcastle on day 1. A68 to Edinburgh Day 2. Then the fun starts, A9, A93 (Braemar) and A9 again to Inverness. If you’re into the land’s end thing, you’ll need a day to get up to John O’Groats and a day back if you’re not pushing it. Otherwise day 3 could be John O’Groats then Ullapool, or Ullapool and then Lochalsh. You must do the A87 from the Kyle of Lochalsh, but that means going on to Skye and then coming back out the same way, or missing Skye out altogether. You’ll be on day 4, 5 or 6 of your journey then.

There’s no way you can do all of the roads up there justice in 10 days, especially at a liesurely pace. Just for christ’s sake, try and stay off the A9 to Inverness and A82 around Loch Ness (OK, maybe take a peek at Loch Ness when you come off the A87 at Invergarry). Personally, I’d try and blat up, spend 7 odd days up in the highlands and then blat back.