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Updated: 53 min 58 sec ago

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

19 November 2014 - 3:52pm
Sorry! YH = Youth Hostel

Your route from Alness is on B9176 which joins A836 about 5km before Ardgay. At Ardgay your route turns left onto a minor road and towards the YH at Culrane. In order to regain the main road A836 you will have to use a foot path and footbridge over the river. Better to stay on the A836 I think. The last time I went that way I stayed at the YH and I remember carrying our bikes up some steps to use the foot bridge.

You can see the footbridge here, alongside the railway bridge.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

19 November 2014 - 2:18pm
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for their advices.

To: Peter Molog
I'll study your tours in Scotland. It is interesting. I have already downloaded the recommended maps to my PC. Also I will put it on the GPS. There's a lot of details and it is good...

To: Norman H and rfryer
Really I see I have to change my track and exclude off-road parts. I see the best way is to finish our trip at Oban and take a train to Edinburgh...
I'll come back soon with a new track.

Norman H wrote:.... at Ardgay where your route appears to go via the YH at Culrain, which I believe is now closed, and uses the footbridge over the railway at Invershin to regain the main road.. Stay on the main road, A836 to Lairg. Incidentally your route goes past the Crask Inn. “The Crask” is, I believe, up for sale but you should aim to spend the night there if you can. Especially if you like whisky!
Sure, we like whisky
Frankly speaking I did not understand a little bit the above and your abbreviation. What is it YH? Kidly ask you to expain more clear the way after Ardgay....
As to Crask I already found it.

Re: Touring with family - Bike advice needed

19 November 2014 - 12:16pm
We toured in France (Brittany) this summer with our (then) 18mth old and 3.5 year old kids: Mostly the kids were on our Yuba Mundo, but we also had a road bike pulling a 2-seat trailer (Burley Bee). Both bikes had tow hitches, so could swap the trailer over to the Yuba (lower gears for big hills) and if the 3.5 year old wanted to sleep, he could go in the trailer.

Yes, the Yuba is heavy, but when loaded with 25kg of kids plus various bits of camping gear, it's not a big issue. Good touring tyres are vital though. We plan to go camping next year with the same setup.

Re: Bike fit for French canals

19 November 2014 - 11:09am
Yes it very much depends on the canal in question. Where are you thinking of going?

Christiian wrote:Bordeaux (rather Langon) to Toulouse is a great surface most of the way and you'll be fine on audax bikes and 32mm tyres. Toulouse to Sete is pretty but can be really rough in places: there are long sections where you would even want to be on a hardtail(which I've also done, and still lost a pannier going over a particularly large root).

Agree with this! I did the Garonne (Bordeaux to Toulouse) with 28c gatorskins with no problem whatsoever. The Midi is tarmac leaving Toulouse but then becomes a stony bumpy unpaved track - we skipped it and went on the road instead. The subsequent bits of the path we did see looked virtually unrideable on a touring bike. Even with thick tyres it will be very slow going and uncomfortable.

Re: Reivers coast to coast on skinny tires?

19 November 2014 - 10:00am
Gateshead-Keswick-Gateshead in 6 days. It was a lovely if slightly damp ride

Wouldn't recommend cycling the East pennines(Kirkby Stephen to Consett) south to north on a 2spd though

Brompton touring by shanecycles.com, on Flickr

Re: Cycling Caen to Nice

19 November 2014 - 9:42am
I am doing Caen to Nice the first two weeks in May 2015. It is an organised tour with Peak Tours. I think there are about 25 of us doing it. Really looking forward to it. Will look out for a tandem en route.

Re: North Sea route - Rotterdam to Esbjerg

19 November 2014 - 8:50am
Hi All, I am thinking about something similar next year as a first real trip, and am trying to work out how to join up the ferry trips from and to the UK, Being a novice I might end up doing more of a round trip back to the same port, but fancy doing something like Holland through to France ( using Harwich and Portsmouth or Dover and Portsmouth ).

But I do fancy taking in the islands rather a lot. The Riddle of the Sands ( but on a bike ).

Re: Cycling Caen to Nice

19 November 2014 - 8:43am
My girlfriend and I did a similar ride from Dieppe to Nice.
We returned by train (to Calais via Lille) but had our bikes in bags.
This year I returned from Perpignan by train with my assembled bike ( i.e not in a bag)- again to Calais but via Paris.
This was a sleeper train to Paris, the carriage having a bike compartment which would have been ok for a tandem, normal TGV to Lille, local train to Calais- both the latter having hanging bike spaces (a tandem rear wheel could possibly have reached to the floor). All bike spaces had to be pre-booked except for the local train.
The SNCF site re-directs you to Rail-Europe. You can't book bike spaces on this site and I did the booking in person at their London bureau.
Since then there has been mention on this forum about another more user friendly site where bike spaces can be booked online. I'm sorry but I don't have the details but doubtless someone on the forum can supply the necessary information.
I have heard that the French night trains may cease operation - not sure on that.

Re: Cycling Caen to Nice

19 November 2014 - 8:03am
Thanks for that, will check out train for return journey. Have you sorted out your route yet?
Good luck and have a safe journey.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

19 November 2014 - 7:40am
For more inspiration day-to-day reports of my tours in Scotland.


Text is in Dutch, but it is mostly maps and pictures.

In case you use a GPS, this is a good (free) map. It is mostly updated once or twice a year.

Have fun.

Re: Cycling Caen to Nice

18 November 2014 - 10:15pm
I am planning a similar trip in May although perhaps not to Nice. Re coming back by train, www.seat61.com is worth looking at. I am thinking of staying in cheap hotels and checking them out using 'booking.com' and similar sites. I cannot help with much else as I have little experience of touring in France.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 9:41pm
Apologies for delay in replying but there's rather a lot to digest. I'll deal with the route in sections in anticlockwise direction, as you've plotted it.

Edinburgh to Fort William and Great Glen

I'm not familiar with this route to Fort William and so I can't comment in detail. It's a route, in part, taken by a lot of End to Enders (Land's End to John-O-Groats) perhaps someone else may comment. You are obviously keen to cycle the Great Glen but unless you need to visit FW for accommodation or shopping, I would give the town a miss and start at Spean Bridge. I see you are using the Great Glen Way. This is off road and I'm not sure if the surface is suitable for the bikes you have. Once again others may have more experience than me. I cycled the A82 and I didn't have a problem although I did it on a Sunday morning and started early. The B862 from Fort Augustus is excellent as I said before.

Inverness to Durness

Looks fine. There are one or two unnecessary diversions notably at Alness (No need to enter the town) and at Ardgay where your route appears to go via the YH at Culrain, which I believe is now closed, and uses the footbridge over the railway at Invershin to regain the main road.. Stay on the main road, A836 to Lairg. Incidentally your route goes past the Crask Inn. “The Crask” is, I believe, up for sale but you should aim to spend the night there if you can. Especially if you like whisky!

Durness to Ullapool

Looks fine. Incidentally If you are pushed for time there is a daily bus service between Durness and Inverness that stops at Ullapool. If you give them 24hs notice they will hitch up a bike trailer.
It's summer only Service No804

Ullapool to Skye

If you can, use the A832 via Poolewe and Gairloch to Kinlochewe. It's known as the Destitution Road. One of several in Scotland built by victims of the famine. It's a great ride and will be less busy than the alternative. Bealach-Na-Bà is a must if you have the time. There are YH at Ullapool, Gairloch. and Torridon.


The off road route along Glen Sligachan will not be possible on your bikes.

Malaig to Edinburgh

The off road section alongside Loch Shiel just after Glenfinnan I do not think is doable on road bikes. Either use the A862 alongside Loch Eil or A861 via Glen Uig and Salen.The A82 through Glen Coe and across Rannoch Moor is not very cycle friendly also you are planning on using the West Highland Way which is primarily a walking route and parts of which would be quite hard on a bike. The off road section between Lix Tol and Callender along GlenOgle aand Stathyre is OK I think.

You will need to make your own decisions as to what to leave out . You could certainly use the train to get out of Edinburgh. As you say Dalwhinnie or Pitlochrie would save a day or two.. I think if I were you I would be tempted to end my tour at Oban, perhaps going via Mull, and use the train to return to Edinburgh.

Here is Scotrail site. http://www.scotrail.co.uk/

East coast trains are recommended for booking as they allow you to make bike reservations on line. http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/

With regards to the best time. Bear in mind what I said previously. If you have total freedom of choice then I would choose June.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 7:25pm
One thing to consider is whether you definitely want to do your entire journey by bike. That's rewarding in itself, and I'd not discourage it. However, if you are just looking for good cycling on quieter roads, I'd skip some of the long, busy sections (ie everything away from the west coast) and replace them with visits to Orkney, the outer Hebrides (especially Harris and Barra), and maybe Islay for some distillery tours.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 6:54pm
Regarding time of year, May would be my month of choice in Scotland - nothing's guaranteed in terms of weather (except unpredictability) but May gives you good odds.

I've taken a quick look at your proposed route, and have a few suggestions you might consider.

The B869 to Lochinver is a wonderful road, very scenic. It also has some very steep sections! I've never ridden it, but I will next time I'm up that way.

I see you've included Applecross and the Bealach Na Ba. A great choice!

If you've got the time, and the legs, I'd skip the Skye bridge. Assuming you're coming from the north, I'd instead visit Eilean Donan, then go to Sheil Bridge, turn right on the C1223 to Glenelg, then take the Kylerhea ferry.

For the north of Skye section, I'd be tempted to do a truncated loop of the north-east peninsular, cutting on the across the C1225. I'd then return to Portree and cross to the west coast via the B885 (unless you're particularly keen to see Dunvegan Castle). The subsequent section heading South down the west coast should give great views of the Cuillin ridge.

I don't believe that the section on Skye heading south from Sligahan to Loch Coruisk is practical as a cycle route, unless you're much braver then I am! I'd just head back along the main road. The road from Broadford to Elgol is very nice, but it isn't a through route!

If you're not in a rush for the Mallaig ferry, a detour on the south of Skye via Ord and Tarskavaig is a nice road (and my local training loop).

Back on the mainland, are you aware that your route south from Glenfinnan is along a rough track down the side of the loch, followed by a seriously steep climb over to Strontian. It's rideable on a hybrid, but if you prefer a nice road route the A861 via Glenuig is also good riding.

The ride back via Glencoe is stunning scenery, but a fast road and you might view it as cycle unfriendly. A more pleasant option would be to head west along Ardnamurchan, take the ferry from Kilchoan to Tobermory, spend some time on Mull, get the ferry to Oban, then get the train to wherever you like!

Hope that helps.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 6:49pm
I haven't been to Provence but I expect that the kind of cold and snow you get there in May will be far more pleasant than the sort of weather you're likely to encounter at least for a few days in Scotland even in the best month (June? July?) - it can be great but it can also feel like winter even then in the sense of wet and windy and not so warm (though probably not snow). If I were doing a trip like this I would be happy to go to Provence any time of year but Scotland, if I wanted to maximise my chances of decent weather, it would be in the summer only and optimally June/July/August, but even so I would be prepared for lots of rain and wind. Basically weather in the British Isles and especially Scotland is far more unpredictable than on the continent. As for London, it's good to visit anytime.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 6:27pm
Hi Radomir,
I don't know Scotland very well, but on one trip we used the train to Kyle Of Lochalsh, you can take it from Inverness, or somewhere along the line. Any help?
Cheers, Rob.

Re: North Sea route - Rotterdam to Esbjerg

18 November 2014 - 4:42pm
cheers for those insights - very useful

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 4:41pm
To: LollyKat
Thanks for information about castels. It is interesting and I'll study the above.

To: Norman H
Thank you again for your new advice and web-site http://cycle.travel/map. I did not know it before.

Today I have made the new track and you can find it here http://www.gpsies.com/mapOnly.do?fileId ... Leave=true
I understand we can't visit everywhere. But... what I have to exclude and what I have to add?

Total length now ~ 1420 km. It is too much for us and I am looking for a way to cut it till ~ 1000 km. Where? May be to take a train between Edinburgh and Dalwhinnie, for example? Could you please suggest any web-site where I can see timetable and tickets?
Is it better to run this track clockwise or counterclockwise?

Concerning to month of our trip.... It is the problem now to make the right choice because...
It is not so easy (and not cheap) to get English visas now but I hope about positive result. English Embassy issues multiple visas for Russian people usually for 6 month. We have never been in United Kingdom and we have idea to visit next year your country twice: Scotland by bycicles and London only for sightseeings.
More of that... next year we will visit South France by bycicles (Provence, 3 weeks too) and all recommend to go there in June (open Mont Ventoux, lavanda etc.). So, according to your advices we have May and September only (no July and no August). What month is better? Several offices of tourism in France convinced us to go in June, such as in May can still be cold and even snow in gorges. Cold and snow in Provence (the most warm region in France)!!! But what about Scotland in first part of May? And what is the best (mote or less) time to visit London in accordance with the above?

Cycling Caen to Nice

18 November 2014 - 4:15pm
We are planning to cycle Caen to Nice May 2015. Returning to Caen by train.
Does anyone have any experience of this? Oh I forgot to say we may be riding a tandem. Although we have travelled from Calais to Bolougne by train with our tandem I was wondering if it was just as easy further south, and whether we have to prebook? Any info would be helpful ie: route, accomodation (not camping), trains.
We live near Burton on Trent Staffs. Is anyone close by that maybe we could meet in order to pick your brains?

Re: What is the best dynamo hub for touring?

18 November 2014 - 3:31pm
willem jongman wrote:I like good lights, and there are enough occasions when I need them. Imagine you have got your planning wrong, and you are arriving much later at a campsite, and even more so if you are riding a forest trail to get there. Or riding in bad weather or in a tunnel. Do you never go to the pub in the evening? Sure, if all of this happens only very rarely, a good battery taillight and some little Petzl headlight may be all you need (or better a cheap sidewall generator and a basic generator headlight). I need more, and I think many do.

I think in a decades worth of summer tours i've only once needed lights and not had them - but i was on a lit cycle route anyhow. I've never toured with a dynamo, small led lights have got me through tunnels and if i go to the pub i walk. I always plan to be at my overnight stop by 18.00, again only once has this been missed, and in summer there is usually good light far beyond that.

My commuter bike which i will use for the 2015 trip has a dynamo but i'm not convinced i need it for a 2 week summer tour.


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