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Scotland

Scotland - Wild About Argyll

Guided Gravel Riding Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

7 days

Prices from

$1,945 P.P.
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Come and experience some of the finest gravel riding the UK has to offer in stunning Argyll, Scotland’s Adventure Coast. Each day you’ll ride along picturesque lochs, cross rugged peninsulas, pedal through serene spruce forests and past ancient castles with each viewpoint beating the last.
The joy of gravel riding in Argyll lies in being able to get into nature and experience the natural wonders with few visitors around, and with a steady variety of fun riding surfaces to keep things interesting on the bike. 
Your riding starts in Arrochar, a village near the head of Loch Long on the Cowal peninsula. Situated within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park in the shadow of the Arrochar Alps and “The Cobbler,” it makes for a picturesque start. We quickly get off-road and take on a few cheeky climbs, following forest tracks and textbook gravel riding as well as some adventurous trails that unlock yet more great gravel riding. 
We continue down the shores of Loch Goil and wind past Holy Loch to Dunoon, the main coastal town of the Cowal peninsula and our base for two nights. The first day out from Dunoon takes in coast and forest on a lovely loop ride with sections along Loch Striven and Glen Fyne with many chances to look out across the Firth of Clyde. Leaving Dunoon we ride north along Loch Eck, via Glenbranter Forest and a final climb through Glendaruel to stop at Portavadie.
A morning ferry crosses Loch Fyne to Tarbert where we first pick up the Caledonia Way before crossing the Knapdale peninsula to enjoy tremendous views over the Sound of Jura. Before long we pass Castle Sween the oldest stone castle in Scotland and follow Loch Sween toward Lochgilphead via the Crinan Canal. 
Our final riding day takes in cairns, castles and more history as well as the natural beauty we’ve come to expect. After a stretch along Loch Awe we finish our ride tracing the shore of Loch Fyne to the formal royal burgh of Inveraray and its gothic revival castle. After a celebratory dram we transfer back to Arrochar for our final night together.
This holiday is aimed at those who have enjoyed Skedaddle road cycling or mountain bike trips and want to have a taste of gravel riding in a remote area, as well as gravel riders wanting to see what this fabulous location has to offer. 
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Highlights

  • Scenic shorelines on Loch Goil, Loch Long and Loch Eck
  • Lush forest with a variety of trails and textbook gravel riding
  • Pairing Scotland’s finest seafood with local whisky and craft beer
  • Deep glens beneath towering mountains in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park
  • Sunsets across Loch Fyne at Portavadie
  • Chance to spot otters, red squirrels and white-tailed eagles

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival – Arrochar

Our meet-up point will be in the village of Arrochar, at the head of Loch Long and set amongst some of the most beautiful scenery on the Cowal peninsula. Excellent road and rail links (nearby Arrochar and Tarbet station) make it a convenient location. Mid-afternoon our guides will stop by Glasgow Airport to collect anyone arriving by plane before reaching Arrochar and assisting those arriving by train.

For those arriving by car, you will be able to leave your vehicle in Arrochar as we’ll be returning here at the end of the trip.

Over the evening meal in Arrochar you’ll have the chance to get to know the rest of the group and chat with the Skedaddle guides about the next few days of riding.

Day 2
Arrochar to Dunoon
41 Miles / 66 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,400 Metres Approx.

Today we start our journey heading off-road almost immediately. Leaving Arrochar, we climb and tackle some quiet forest roads and singletrack with a few cheeky climbs mixed in – textbook gravel riding for over 10 miles with fantastic views of the Cobbler and the Rest and Be Thankful pass. Four miles of descent brings out the widest smiles before joining a minor road for a short stretch into Lochgoilhead and a well-deserved coffee stop. After some quiet minor roads passing Carrick Castle, the route turns to gravel and at Ardnahein Farm we have a bit of adventure! We begin on some winding singletrack, then as the trail heads uphill it’s likely we’ll take to foot for the steeper sections which are the gateway to unlocking some fabulous riding in the days ahead.

Joining the forest haul road there’s plenty more great scenic riding as we follow the shoreline of Loch Goil south to our lunch spot at Shepherd’s Point. After lunch there are two more great off-road sections as we ride further south, around Holy Loch and eventually join the road heading into Dunoon, one of the Firth of Clyde’s main resorts. Built around the historic Castle Mound and large Victorian pier, our base for the next two nights has plenty to offer.

Day 3
Dunoon Loop
41 Miles / 66 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,300 Metres Approx.

No need to pack up this morning! An easy start around the coast road offers plenty to see and our guides will treat you to a ride that offers it all – excellent forest trails, lush shaded glens (Glen Fyne and Bishop’s Glen), a mix of excellent gravel riding terrain, and several coastal sections with views out over the Firth of Clyde and Loch Striven.

We’ll take in the Cowal peninsula’s southern extremity at the village of Toward and see its lighthouse, built by Robert Stevenson two hundred years ago. For those wanting a bit more time to explore Dunoon or to rest their legs, today’s loop ride offers the chance to cut the distance a bit short as it passes Dunoon mid-way through. No shame in taking the half-day option!

Day 4
Dunoon to Portavadie
47 Miles / 76 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,500 Metres Approx.

An absolutely brilliant day’s riding awaits with the vast majority off-road. We’ll take a different route out of Dunoon to avoid retracing our steps from yesterday. Today there are two longer climbs, one after our coffee stop and one after lunch, both steep in places but both providing some great off-road riding and terrific views.

After some forest tracks early on, we ride the full length of Loch Eck up its western shore beneath imposing hills to the west, including Beinn Mhòr, Cowal’s highest peak. After climbing through Glenbranter Forest, we head toward the Cowal Way and Glendaruel and a well-deserved lunch. Climbing again we’re soon off-road once more, before 10 miles of mostly descending, finishing up in Portavadie to watch the sunset over Loch Fyne.

Day 5
Tarbert to Lochgilphead
49 Miles / 79 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,200 Metres Approx.

A morning ferry across Loch Fyne provides excellent views out toward the Sound of Bute and Firth of Clyde as well as of the charming port of Tarbert and its castle, where our daily adventure begins. From Tarbert we initially follow the Caledonian Way route out of town before going off-road to cross the Knapdale peninsula. As we descend on the western side of the peninsula we’re treated to tremendous views over the Sound of Jura and Loch Caolisport.

We continue on past Castle Sween, the oldest stone castle in Scotland, on the east bank of Loch Sween. Some gentle road riding north from here takes us up the shore to the head of Loch Sween, before crossing inland and heading off-road once more with a few brief climbs through the forest and past Lochan Buic before reaching Lochgilphead via the Crinan Canal. Time allowing there may be an opportunity to head to the nearby Argyll Beaver & Wildlife Centre to meet the beavers of Knapdale (or at least see evidence of their knawing!).

Today’s ride features, in addition to an abundance of natural beauty and wildlife spotting, several burial cairns, castles, and standing stones as well as the 13th century chapel at Kilmory. At Lochgilphead we’ll enjoy a hearty meal and look forward to our final ride tomorrow.

Day 6
Lochgilphead to Inveraray
44 Miles / 71 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 950 Metres Approx.

After a hearty breakfast we retrace our path along the Crinan Canal before crossing the Islandadd Bridge at the edge of the Moine Mhore National Nature Reserve, a vital ecosystem of lowland blanket bog and watery habitats home to coastal birds, otters and a rich diversity of wildlife. We continue on to Baluachraig and its wealth of history – Nether Largie Standing Stones and Temple Wood Stone Circle as well as several ancient cairns.

Some gravel riding takes us further past Kilmartin and the roofless renaissance ruin of Carnasserie Castle. At the Eurach Standing Stones we turn onto a minor road and soon reach Loch Awe via some lovely off-road trails. We follow the road along the southern shore of Loch Awe for a short while before riding up into Eredine Forest and tackling the main climb of the day. Following along the Abhainn a Bhealaich river and several others we enjoy around 20 miles of off-road riding on a mix of gravel and forest track returning to Loch Fyne.

A scenic finish along the shore of Loch Fyne takes us into Inveraray, a traditional county town of Argyll. The town showcases Scottish Georgian architecture and has some great attractions including the jail and courthouse turned museum as well as the neo-gothic Inveraray Castle, which remains the family home of the Dukes of Argyll. Inveraray allows for some excellent photo opportunities at the end of our ride, and a celebratory drink before transferring back to Arrochar for a group meal on our final night together.

Day 7
Departure - Arrochar
  • Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast your guide team will assist those departing Arrochar by train and then transfer those of you returning to Glasgow Airport.

For those with time to spare, there are many more attractions nearby and within easy reach via train, car or bike. The nearby village of Balloch at the base of Loch Lomond is the starting point of Skedaddle’s popular Lochs & Glens leisure cycling holidays and is home to many cafes and restaurants along with popular walking trails with more views up the loch. Some may head north to Glencoe and Ben Nevis, others may tick the popular islands of Mull, Skye and the Outer Hebrides off their list. Whatever you choose, there are endless splendours to choose from for those sticking around to explore the west coast of Scotland.

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The Cycling

Terrain

The Wild About Argyll Trail features a good mix of off-road riding as well as some minor, quiet roads, with the occasional busier section of road where unavoidable.

The route takes advantage of some terrific forest roads and tracks, composed of gravel and hard-packed surfaces, some rougher paved sections, grassy and occasionally muddy single track, and some looser surfaces on select single track sections which are a bit more technical. Given the location on the west coast of Scotland, rain and mist can be expected over the course of a week-long trip, leaving some parts of the trail muddier than others. You can find more information on riding on gravel surfaces here in our Guide to Gravel Trails.

There are some steeper climbs and the occasional faster descent particularly when the route winds its way inland away from the shore. The route peaks at 450m but there is regular rolling terrain at mostly reasonable gradients, with each day taking in roughly 1100m to 1300m ascent and descent. A good degree of riding fitness is advisable for this tour. There is one unavoidable section of forest trail heading uphill, approx. 750m, where the guides will advise the group to walk their bikes through. Taking this route unlocks the rest of the holiday so well worth the short walk, to access terrific gravel riding ahead.

For this trip we recommend gravel bikes with a minimum tyre width of 38mm. The route may also be suitable for cross country mountain bikes fitted with minimally treaded XC tyres if bringing your own. We wouldn’t recommend this route for road bikes unless fitted with a minimum of 38mm and a rider comfortable and experienced in tackling the off-road nature of these trails.

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Gravel Riding Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

Distances generally between 45-60 miles / 70-95 kms per day.

For gravel and off-road riders with experience, good fitness and a decent level of skill.

Some features that may be experienced more frequently in a higher-grade tour.

The gravel trails encountered are a mix of vehicle width and non-technical singletrack.

Trails can vary more in width and in surface type.

You will need to choose your line more carefully and might need to move from one side of the trail to the other to find the smoothest line and the best grip/least rolling resistance.

If you’re bringing your own bike, we would recommend a minimum tyre width of 38mm.

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 regularly ride off-road, although you’re not necessarily into full-on mountain biking. You enjoy getting into the countryside and getting away from roads and traffic. You’re happy with climbing and descending off-road on vehicle width trails. The occasional cheeky section of singletrack with some roots or rocks to navigate over and around doesn’t worry you. You’re likely to own your own gravel bike, cyclocross bike or mountain bike. You might have tried one of our Grade 2 or 3 mountain bike trips or higher-grade road trips.

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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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
11/08/2024
Fully Booked
Return Date
17/08/2024
Duration
7 days
Price
$1,945.00
Start Date
25/08/2024
Return Date
31/08/2024
Duration
7 days
Price
$1,945.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per 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 upon request

G) Glasgow airport and Arrochar & Tarbet train station transfers on day 1 and day 7

H) Financial Protection through ABTOT

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (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

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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

The arrival point for this holiday is Arrochar, where we will meet up and overnight before our first day’s riding. If travelling by car you will be able to leave your car in Arrochar for the duration of the trip.

If you would prefer to catch the train, Arrochar is served by Arrochar & Tarbet train station running standard Scotrail services as well as the Caledonian Sleeper service.

Journeys by train from London take approximately 7 hours, or roughly an hour and a half from Glasgow Queen Street. Please check with Scotrail and other operators well in advance to ensure you can travel with your bike.

Please aim to arrive by around 16:00 on the Sunday afternoon.

For those who must fly, we include a transfer from Glasgow airport at 14:30 on the arrival day, and a return transfer from Arrochar at 09:30 on the departure day. Journey time is approximately 1 hour, so please don’t book any flights departing before 12.30.

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 and logistics. Please note If you make alternative travel arrangements, which fall outside of the group schedule, there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

For this tour we use a mix of B&Bs, country inns, lodges and small family-run hotels.

In Arrochar, where we start and finish the tour, we typically use a large hotel on the waterfront with ample parking and terrific views. It’s conveniently located for driving with the Arrochar & Tarbet train station a short distance away.

In the UK we use good quality 3 or 4 star hotels, B&Bs, inns and family-run guesthouses that are cycle friendly, located close to the cycling route and showcase the style and hospitality of the area you are visiting.

Where possible we prioritise locally owned businesses and those offering locally sourced food, drink and speciality products. This all promotes sustainability in-line with our responsible travel policy.

All our UK trips are operated on a double/twin-share basis. Single occupancy rooms can be provided for a supplement and are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Bike Hire

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

These bikes are typically full carbon Giant Revolt / Liv Devote, great bikes with good quality components. These bikes are set up tubeless on gravel-specific wheels and both the Revolt and the Devote have 700×40c tyres. They provide a comfortable riding position and wide range of gears, running a 2×11 drivetrain with 32/48 chainrings and 11×34 cassette. They are fitted with hydraulic disc brakes.

If you do decide to rent and would like us to provide a helmet, please let us know at the time of booking, otherwise you should bring your own helmet with you.

Please also let us know if you plan on bringing your own clip-in pedals, or if you will use the flat pedals which our rental bikes come fitted with.

Given the variety of shapes and sizes of on bike luggage and the fact the mechanisms for fitting them varies so much, we aren’t able to safely accommodate customers own frame bags and on bike luggage on our hire bikes. This holiday has vehicle support and the riding group will meet the support vehicle at regular intervals, so you should be able to get away with using jersey pockets to carry any ride essentials. You are welcome to use a small back-pack on sections where you think it’s necessary.

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News, Reviews & Stories

Gravel Riding Tips & What To Expect

If you're a roadie or mountain biker then here's what to expect when you hit the gravel trails.

Your Guide To Gravel Riding Skills

We cover essential skills for cyclists who want to conquer any gravel terrain! Read this for expert tips and advice.

Gravel Riding Holiday FAQs

Everything you need to know! We put all your questions and more to our gravelly-gurus and this is what they came back with.

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