- Quiet single-track roads for miles on end
- Bealach Na Ba – the greatest road ascent in the UK
- Feasting on fresh seafood after a day in the saddle
- Stunning views out over the Isle of Skye
- Cycling the peaceful lochside roads
- The swooping coastal road from Ullapool to Kinlochewe
- Ascent: Non Riding Day
The Skedaddle team will be waiting to meet arrivals at either Inverness train station or airport, for the transfer to our accommodation close to the vibrant centre of the city. For those driving to Inverness accommodation details will be provided in advance. Afternoon arrivals are recommended to allow enough time to set up bikes ready for riding the next day.
The rest of the day is free for relaxation and exploration of the city. Inverness is the capital of the Highlands and sits on the mouth of the River Ness. Its impressive castle and old town are well worth a visit. If your preferences are littoral rather than urban it is also possible to enjoy a coastal walk and, for the fortunate, perhaps even spot one of the dolphin pods that call the Moray Firth their home.
In the evening we will eat out as a group in a local restaurant, an opportunity to get to know the rest of the party and to chat to your guides about the trip ahead.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 880 Metres Approx.
Our journey begins gently as we leave the city via the famous Kessock Bridge and enter the Black Isle to the north of Inverness. Immediately over the bridge we make use of a short section of cycle path which drops us down onto the northern shore of the Beauly Firth where it is not uncommon to see dolphins and seals as we ride.
After leaving the waterside we head inland for a few miles until we reach the town of Dingwall, the gateway to the Cromarty Firth and the start of a beautifully quiet backroad that leads us onto and over the only really significant climb of the day as we head over the hills of Easter Ross to reach our lunch spot at Bonar Bridge on the Dornoch Firth.
After lunch we head further north, leaving the main road a few miles beyond the town, passing the salmon leap at Shin Falls and pushing on through forests on narrow, single-lane roads to our final destination of Lairg on the southern tip of Loch Shin.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,120 Metres Approx.
After a hearty Scottish breakfast, we depart northwards for a short while before taking a sharp left to head out to the wild west coast of Scotland. For most of the morning will be on lovely quiet single-lane roads, the first 20 miles of which follow the shoreline of the beautiful Loch Shin and then later lead us, constantly surrounded by mountains, into the Glen of Allt Ceann Locha.
Eventually we reach the sheltered inlet of Laxford Bay, a few miles beyond which we take another sharp left turn to begin heading southwards along a spectacularly-rocky and undulating shoreline. Through tiny village and crofts, we dip and dive along the engaging coastal road, taking an occasional break to admire the views over to the Isle of Lewis and Harris way off in the Hebrides.
Beyond the remote fishing villages of Kylestrome and Kylesku the road rises sharply for just over five miles as we leave the coast and head inland slightly towards Loch Assynt.
All that remains, after reaching the summit, is a swift descent down to the loch followed by a rolling, generally downhill, road that delivers us to Lochinver, our home for the evening and our first chance to sample the mouth-watering seafood that the west coast is famous for.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,200 Metres Approx.
Today might be our shortest day on the bikes, but what it lacks in distance is more than compensated by its dramatic sawtooth profile.
With the dramatic Suilven peak to our east, a series of sharp little climbs begin almost immediately as we leave Lochinver. After travelling south for just less than 15 miles we change direction and head west to explore one of the many remote coastal peninsulas; the short excursion on almost empty roads presents Scotland at its best and is well worth it for the great coastal panorama and views of the Summer Isles.
After completing the loop we rejoin our main route at Loch Lurgainn and continue our journey south, passing through the tiny village of Ardmair and its beautiful bay along the way, until we reach the bustling town of Ullapool sitting on the shore of Loch Broom. A relatively early arrival here hopefully allows plenty of time to enjoy a little west coast culture, observing the fishing boats and ferries coming and going in the harbour.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,760 Metres Approx.
Having enjoyed the shortest day of our tour yesterday we have our longest day ahead of us as we set off to ride around the mountains of Wester Ross.
We’ll be timing our departure to miss the morning rush hour that coincides with the ferry arrival and after a few short miles of a slightly busier than normal road, by Scottish Highlands standards at any rate, we rejoin more familiar quiet roads that lead us back towards the rugged west coast.
A gentle 10 miles of climbing takes up to the highest point of the day before the road naturally drops down again for a similar distance and carries us all the way to the shores of Little Loch Broom. Never far from the sea, we spend the rest of the day negotiating numerous minor ups and downs and navigating our way around all the rocky inlets and sea lochs.
After a relaxing lunch stop at Poolewe, we pass the botanic gardens at Inverewe where, warmed by the gulf stream, we come across many sub-tropical species not normally found this far north. We end the day looking out to the nature reserves and many wooded islands of Loch Maree as we spin along its southern bank, arriving in the little settlement of Kinlochewe surrounded by Wester Ross National Scenic area, where we will spend the evening.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,340 Metres Approx.
Whilst not the longest day of the trip, this stage, which features one our most iconic climbs, will for many of us prove to be the most epic.
Things start very gently as we ride along Glen Torridon to be rewarded with the spectacular view down to Loch Torridon. Even though the next 30 miles or so tend to be a little lumpier, the challenges are all small and very manageable.
We’ll take time out at the lovely fishing village of Sheildaig where, if we are very lucky, we might see a sea eagle or two, before continuing along the narrow single-lane road around the Rubha na Fearn peninsula to the village of Applecross overlooking the Isles of Raasay, Rona and beyond them, the Isle of Skye.
Applecross, nestling at the southern end of a tiny bay, guards the entrance to Bealach Na Ba and we’ll regroup here to take a snack and ready ourselves for the signature climb of our entire journey. Bealach Na Ba, Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle, with its numerous hairpins and gradients approaching 20%, is considered by many to be the greatest and one of the most challenging road climbs in the UK and after the five miles it takes to reach the 2,053ft (626m) high summit we’ll take a well-earned rest to admire the views of the magnificent Cuillin Ridge over on the Isle of Skye.
After catching our breath we’ll descend carefully down the equally steep, sheltered road on the other side, all the way down to Loch Kishorn, after which one final short effort will see us up and over the hills to Lochcarron where we will find this evening’s home.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 770 Metres Approx.
We may have reached our final day of riding but there is still plenty in store as we travel, to all intents and purposes, from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast.
From the shores of Locharron we wave goodbye to the mountains of the west before heading along somewhat gentler roads than those to which we have recently become accustomed, as we move into Glen Carron and the watershed around Achnasheen Junction.
With most of the climbing completed within the first 20 miles, we spend the rest of the day rolling generally downhill though small rural towns and passing numerous picturesque minor lochs all the way back to the Beauly Firth and then finally back into Inverness for our final evening.
We have picked quiet country roads wherever possible. The whole route is on good tarmac, and suited to lightweight road bikes.
Though there are of course lots of climbs and descents the majority of the route takes us through open countryside. Some of this will be lowland, agricultural areas, and some will be over high and exposed hill country.
Road Cycling Grade
45-60 miles / 70-95 kms per day
For riders with experience, good fitness & a decent level of skill
Some features that may be experienced more frequently in a higher grade tour
Most days include a couple of significant climbs
Some long days & some steep to very steep sections
Not for beginners
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?
You’re definitely not a novice rider, you’re fit, you ride regularly at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for much of the day, you love your bike! You also enjoy a challenge and if you haven’t already done so you’re keen to attempt a semi-serious to serious mountain pass or two. You’re as comfortable with the prospect of descending from the top of a col as you are with the idea of climbing it and you’re confident that you have the skills to do so safely. You’re not necessarily a “racer” but you can crank up the pace a little when it’s necessary and you don’t mind forgoing a coffee stop if the schedule demands it occasionally. You probably own and use clipless pedals. You have good control of your bike and can take a drink from a water bottle without having to unclip and put your feet on the ground. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 3 would be a good option 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.
Dates & Prices
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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.
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A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en-suite rooms)
B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides
D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid
E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers
F) GPX files available on request
G) Airport/train station transfer on scheduled arrival day from Inverness airport (INV) or Inverness train station
H) Airport/train station transfer on scheduled departure day to Inverness airport (INV) or Inverness train station
I) Financial Protection through ABTOT
What's not Included
A) Bike hire (available if required)
B) Flights and 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 museums and other attractions en-route
I) Airport/train station transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
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.
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The Story Behind: Tour d'Ecosse
We have cycled the length and breadth of the UK and can say that the Highlands offer something completely unique...
Paul, London, UKSkedaddle gets cycling and cyclists in a way no one else seems to!
We have used various companies to manage our rides over the years and Skedaddle gets cycling and cyclists in a way no one else seems to. Thank you to Straws, our Tour Leader. Our guides were both brilliant too, it clearly mattered to both of them that we had a good experience. Please pass on my thanks. All days were all great! The climb up Bealach na Bà will live long in the memory.
Richard, London, UKI have cycled all over the world and this was the most consistently beautiful ride I have ever done.
Every day was outstanding. I have cycled all over the world except Australasia and this was the most consistently beautiful ride I have ever done. The guides were all extremely helpful, knowledgeable about bikes and the route and good to chat to and spend time with.
Mark, Bristol, UKThe route was well designed...
I wouldn’t normally choose a holiday in the UK. But due to Covid, the UK was the only option and the NC500 (or variation thereof) was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I wasn’t disappointed as I really enjoyed the holiday. Each day was great with superb scenery and challenging terrain. The route was well designed and the last day was well chosen to get a push for 60 miles from the prevailing winds. As ever the tour leader and guides were really professional and great company.
The leader and the guides were all really positive and helpful. There were really clear briefings every morning about the route. Also, there was quite a mix of abilities on this ride and I think they handled this well – e.g. splitting into two groups and giving clear instructions on where to regroup.
David, Hertfordshire, UKReally personalised service.
Really personalised service dealing with difficult situations via consensus but with leadership. The big climb was my favourite!
Ann, UKFirst class communication and service...
From enquiry to reservation through the preparation and arrival…first class communication and service. Refreshments, cafes and expectations exceeded every time on food, drink and service delivered. Fabulous scenery, weather, support from all the team up (and down) the summit. This is our 3rd Skeddadle holiday and there will be more…never disappointed!
Paul, Reading, UKSo well planned!
The trip was so well planned and run I (almost) forgot we were in the midst of a pandemic. A great holiday at a difficult time!
Jane, UKAll together great!
Better than we had ever expected. Our guides were amazing, we had great support and fun the whole holiday. Will book again. We loved each day as they were all so different and all together great!
Keith, UKone of the most memorable weeks I've had in a long time...
It was one of the most memorable weeks I’ve had in a long time. Well thought out routes through some of the most spectacular scenery the UK has to offer, the most friendly group of people you could wish for, terrific support from our guides – Wouldn’t have wanted to change a thing! Day 2 ranks as one of my all-time favourite cycling days. A long stretch from Lairg along a beautiful valley floor besides the lochs, then lovely accommodation and a top meal in the evening. Happy days!
John, UKBrilliant from start to finish!
I had an absolutely brilliant holiday thanks to the care and professionalism of the Skedaddle staff. All was efficient and well organised. The holiday was described in detail beforehand and lived up to expectations in every way. It was brilliant from start to finish!
Andre, UKAlready thinking about what to do next year !
A brilliant well-organised activity holiday package. All the days were excellent cycling, and all of the routes were excellent and clearly carefully planned to maximise the experience without excessive effort. Already thinking about what to do next year !