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United Kingdom

Scotland - Hebridean Explorer

Guided Mountain Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

7 days

Prices from

$3,245 P.P.

E-MTB HIRE AVAILABLE

This holiday is great fun on a regular mountain bike or an e-mountain bike and you can choose to hire either when you book your tour with us! If you’re an experienced rider, you can choose one of our quality e-mountain hire bikes and experience the buzz of a pedal-assisted ride. Select your e-MTB hire when you book a tour with us.

Bear in mind that the pace will be set to riders with a regular mountain bike.

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We’re excited to offer this extraordinary chance to explore these unique islands by bike, travelling through one of Europe’s last true wilderness regions, the Outer Hebrides, a superb location for a mountain bike holiday in the UK.
Crowned the 'Hebridean Explorer', this 300km bike journey weaves its way through seven islands on a variety of ancient paths, historic by-ways, mountain tracks and impossibly quiet roads. While there is the occasional intermediate level trail, the riding is not overly challenging, allowing us to relax and enjoy the superb wilderness scenery. Island hopping means that we will be using a combination of ferry trips and exciting boat rides to link up the paths we have discovered across this diverse archipelago.
More than any other bike ride, the Hebridean Explorer offers the opportunity to experience life on the islands, where the landscapes are wild and untamed, golden eagles and red deer roam free, and human history dates back over 5000 years.
The Outer Hebrides also retain a culture distinct from the rest of Scotland. Here you will find Gaelic as the first language and a sense of pride and tradition which make the Outer Hebrides a remarkable and unforgettable place to visit.
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Highlights

  • A fantastic journey by bike through the Outer Hebrides
  • Seven unspoilt islands
  • Great trails and exciting boat rides
  • Awesome scenery, wild hills and clean white beaches
  • Great food, hospitality and malt whisky!
  • History, culture and wildlife

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The combination of biking, boating and stunning scenery would be enough for a top day. Add on the sharks, dolphins, puffins and seals and we had an unforgettable one!

Michael, Germany

Itinerary

Day 1
Ferry to South Uist
Non Biking Day

We meet early on Sunday in order to transfer up to the ferry, from the important fishing hub of Mallaig to Lochboisdale on South Uist. Arriving into Lochboisdale in the late evening we have a short transfer (20 minutes)to reach our first nights accommodation out on the west coast of the island.

The crossing to the Outer Hebrides signals the start of the journey as we sail through spectacular island scenery with good marine wildlife spotting potential around the Small Isles of Rùm and Canna.

Day 2
Lochboisdale to Lochmaddy
47 Miles / 75 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 530 Metres

After breakfast we spend some time getting the bikes set up for the ride ahead. The start of the Hebridean Trail follows the west coast of South Uist through the delightful coastal flower meadows called machair. The trail runs for approximately 30km right the way up the west coast of the island which is defined by its beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise seas.

From the north of the island we head inland and follow the ‘main’ road (i.e. more sheep than cars) across the causeways to the tiny island of Benbecula and then to the island of North Uist. Depending on the tide, the causeways have excellent otter spotting opportunities.

Our destination for the evening is Lochmaddy on North Uist’s east coast.

Day 3
Lochmaddy to Tarbert
46 Miles / 74 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 940 Metres

Riding north from Lochmaddy, we follow the coast road to Berneray where we take the short ferry across the Sound of Harris to Leverburgh. On arrival on the Isle of Harris you will see an immediate change in the landscape with bold mountains dominating the west coast.

Harris is arguably the jewel in the crown of the Outer Hebrides with its stunning beaches and rugged mountains. From Leverburgh we follow the west coast road with incredible views (on clear days, the World Heritage Site of St Kilda can be seen 40 miles offshore) before heading off road for an introduction to mountain biking – Hebridean Style. Taking a series of ancient “coffin roads“, we spend the afternoon riding some fine singletrack through a landscape of a 1000 lochans.

One final road descent takes us to the charming village of Tarbert where will we stay for the next two nights in a stylish 4* hotel.

Day 4
Isle of Scalpay & Lochannan Lacasdail
28 Miles / 46 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1010 Metres

Today we visit the neighboring Isle of Scalpay, or Scalpay of Harris, with its strong fishing community and a historic lighthouse built by Stevenson back in the 18th Century. The island is peppered with lochans, some with their own islands! We take our lunch toward the south of the island near the coast.

After lunch we head back onto Harris, and ride a loop northward taking in Lochannan Lacasdail and some wild, ancient singletrack. At the end of the day we return to our hotel in Tarbert for a second night.

Day 5
Tarbert to Callinish
51 Miles / 82 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1200 Metres

An unforgettable day of island adventure as we combine mountain bikes with a couple of short boat rides by RIB to open up the otherwise inaccessible west coast of Harris and the Isle of Lewis.

This day is sure to be one of the highlights of the trip as we head into remote and wild country. In the middle of nowhere we rendezvous with a RIB which transfers us across a sea loch to the west coast of Lewis.

Once on the Isle of Lewis, we follow a trail through a dramatic glen, flanked by spectacular peaks on either side, before descending back to the coast and rejoining the RIB for a final ride to the Standing Stones of Callanish. This mysterious stone circle is over 5000 years old and a remarkable place to visit, especially in the evening when it is usually deserted. Our overnight guest house accommodation is nearby.

Day 6
Callinish to the Butt of Lewis
37 Miles / 59 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 590 Metres

Our final day follows the west coast of Lewis and is full of historical and cultural interest. Heading north, we soon pass the ancient Dun Carloway Broch and then the Blackhouse Village at Gearrannan which offers an insight into what island living was like not so many years ago.

For the next 20km we switch between coastal trail and road as we edge nearer to the end of our island journey. An impossible to miss feature on our final push is the Whalebone Arch, recovered from a huge whale washed up on a nearby beach. A turning in the road to the west signals the last few km. Perched on the Atlantic at the very edge of Europe, the Butt of Lewis is a spectacular and fitting place to end our Hebridean Trail.

After celebratory drinks, we head back to our accommodation at Callinish for our final night on the islands.

Day 7
Return Ferry - via the Isle of Skye
Non Biking Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Following a leisurely breakfast we will head back to Tarbert to catch the ferry over to Uig on the Isle of Skye (approximately 1.5 hours). There will be an opportunity to pick up some last minute souvenirs in Tarbert, maybe some genuine Harris Tweed or local artwork.

After arriving at Uig we transfer you back to Glasgow Airport for our final farewell, when you will hop on a plane, or extend your holiday. This is an amazing drive with breathtaking scenery on all sides, allowing you a few more photo opportunities before we say goodbye!

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The Cycling

Terrain

The first part of the trip is largely flat and on sandy terrain but as we head north to the Islands of Harris and Lewis, the trails become increasingly harder and hilly.

This trip is only suitable for mountain bikes with a wide range of gears, front suspension and disc brakes. A lower tread tyre will make the road sections easier but be prepared for some challenges on the rocky trails of Harris and Lewis!

In terms of distance, the trip totals 300 km / 186 miles and this breaks down into 60% on road and 40% off road. Day 3 offers the most technical day of riding with some steep ascents/descents and some rocky trails.

The pace of this holiday will be set by regular bikes but appropriate Electric Mountain Bikes may also be suitable. Chat to us if you would like to rent or bring your own. For more information about riding an e-MTB on our holidays please click here

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Mountain Biking Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

Distances of 25-50 miles / 40-80 kms per day

Aimed at regular cyclists who have a degree of off road experience

Some moderate and difficult technical sections

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

If you have some experience of off road riding on a variety of terrain, and would like to do more, a grade 3 trip could be for you. These rides give you elements of our higher grade trips but at a manageable level with sections of singletrack (narrow trails wide enough for one rider) and shorter steep sections (both up and down) which require more bike handling ability. A day’s ride can see you on the trails for around 8 hours (with breaks) and covering between 25-50 miles depending on the terrain. If you’re generally fit and manage to ride regularly this could be the level for you.

For more information about the grading of this holiday in particular, please check out the terrain section which will give you some specifics of what to expect on this tour.

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Our guides were not just cycling guides, they made sure we saw all the sights and told us about interesting information about them and made sure we enjoyed every moment!

Sandra, UK

Dates & Prices

Secure Your Holiday With A Deposit

Book now with a $250 deposit and nothing more to pay until 60 days before departure. Choose a date to start your booking and see all prices, including bike hire and single room supplements.

Select a date to view prices and book
Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
07/07/2024
Fully Booked
Return Date
13/07/2024
Duration
7 days
Price
$3,245.00
Start Date
08/09/2024
Return Date
14/09/2024
Duration
7 days
Price
$3,245.00
Start Date
01/06/2025
Return Date
07/06/2025
Duration
7 days
Price
$3,480.00
Start Date
13/07/2025
Return Date
19/07/2025
Duration
7 days
Price
$3,480.00
Start Date
07/09/2025
Return Date
13/09/2025
Duration
7 days
Price
$3,480.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Shared twin (or double) room in B&Bs or hotels (usually en suite)

B) Full tour service including a guide qualified in First Aid and a back up vehicle carrying spares, snacks and extra equipment not needed on your bike

C) Breakfast, full buffet style picnic lunches, en route refreshments including a selection of hot and cold drinks

D) GPX files available on request

E) Group transfer from Balloch – Day 1

F) Group transfer back to Balloch – Day 7

G) Group transfer to Glasgow Airport (GLA) – Day 7

H) All ferry & local boat services

I) Financial Protection through ABTOT

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike and helmet rental (available if required)

B) Travel or flight costs or charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to cultural or historical sites and visitor centres

I) Other optional activities

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Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

The Essentials

Travel Options

This tour starts in Lochboisdale and finishes in Butt of Lewis.

Your arrival destination is Balloch, on the South end of Loch Lomond, and group transfers to Mallaig, from where we will take the ferry to Lochboisdale, are included in the cost of your holiday. The transfer time is generally early morning so we recommend staying in Balloch overnight the night before. We’ll confirm the transfer time a little closer to departure.

If you’re flying to Glasgow (GLA), we’d recommend flying a day early and staying overnight in Balloch. From Glasgow airport you can either jump in a taxi to Balloch (approx. 30 minutes) or jump on the Glasgow Airport Express bus 500 from the airport to North Hanover Street, 1 minute walk to Queen Street Station, and catch the train from Queen Street to Balloch.

If you are driving, parking in Balloch is free of charge for the duration of your trip.

At the end of the tour, we will transfer the group back to Balloch with an estimated arrival time of 16.00. If you are flying home from Glasgow Airport we can transfer you here after we depart Balloch, with an estimated arrival time of 17.00. Please consider this when booking your return travel and allow enough time to check in for your chosen flight.

Please check with us before making any travel arrangements, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to ensure your arrangements fit with our scheduled transfers.

Please note If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the above time windows there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

In the UK we use small, good quality B&B accommodation or 2 or 3 star hotels.

Our trips are operated on a twin share basis. We may be able to offer single rooms subject to availability and payment of a single room supplement. However,on this particular trip, out of neccessity, the places that we stay each night are generally small, and have limited choice accommodation. This means that we cannot guarantee that single rooms will be available.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available to rent.

For this tour we have Giant Trance and Stance full suspension Enduro/Trail bikes. These are 29ers set up tubeless with disc brakes, dropper seatposts and quality components.

We also have hardtail bikes available to rent. These bikes are Giant Talon XC/Trail bikes with front suspension, disc brakes and quality components.

We also have a limited number of Electric Mountain Bikes available to rent. These bikes are good quality Giant Trance X E+ 2 with 625Wh batteries. The full suspension electric Enduro / Trail bikes are tubeless 29ers with disc brakes, dropper posts and quality components. All eMTB rentals are dependent on availability which will be checked for you at the time of booking and one of our team will be in touch to confirm the details.

If you do decide to rent a bike we can include a helmet (though always nicer to bring your own!) and all necessary spares for the trip. If you would like to borrow a helmet please let us know before the trip.

Our bikes come with high quality male and female MTB saddles but you are welcome to bring your own if you would prefer. If you use clip-in pedals / SPDs you will need to bring these along.

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News, Reviews & Stories

Hebridean Explorer, Scotland

Discover the awe-inspiring and far-reaching Western Isles, where coastal adventures and seldom-ridden routes await...

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