Arran features in three of SBT’s tours the Five Ferries, Sea to summit and the Island Adventure tour. On all the tours there is a chance to see some of the islands attractions but perhaps the best way would be to do the Five Ferries two day tour and stay at Lochranza YH giving you a day to look around the island.
The ferry leaves from Ardrossan on the mainland and arrives at Brodick the island’s largest settlement there is also another ferry to the Buddhist owned Holy Isle this leaves from Lamlash.
Natural attractions include Kilmory and Blackwaterfoot beaches, Eas Mor waterfall and the Kings cave.
Surprisingly for such a small island there is three castles:Kildonan, Lochranza and Brodick.
Of course this being Scotland there is a distillery and a brewery on the island both of which have shops and tours.
The history of Arran is fascinating and at various times during it’s history it has been occupied by Vikings, Celts and the Engish. It was victim to the Highland Clearances this is commemorated at Lamlash.
So what you waiting for book a tour come and see this lovely Island.
This is the first in a series of posts about the areas that SBT tour in.
The Great Glen (GG) is a geological fault between Fort William and Inverness. At one end of the GG lies Loch Linnhe and the Atlantic Ocean and to the other the Moray Firth and the North Sea making it an ideal off road Coast to Coast (C2C).
The original fault was created about 380 million years ago then a mere 20,000 years ago during the Ice Age the fault as we know it was formed.
Traversing the GG way there is 22 miles of man made Caledonian Canal and 38 miles comprising 3 lochs that of Lochy, Oich and Ness. The Caledonian Canal was oened in 1822 almost 49 years after first being proposed.
There are ten hill forts along the GG testifying to it’s strategic importance. Torr Dhuin and Craig Phadrig are the most accessible from the GG Way and are worth visiting if only for the views. Craig Phadrig is thought to date from 350BC and be on the site that eventually became Inverness.
The GG runs through the three main types of habitat water side, woodland and moorland and you can expect to see oystercatchers, heron, kittiwakes and even ospreys. Landward red squirrels, pine marten and red deer.
The GG Way passes through Gairlochy, Laggan locks, Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit.
We shall take a look at some of these settlements as well as Fort William and Inverness in another post.
Once a booking has been made I am often asked what do I need? Will there be time to take photographs? What speed do I need to maintain?
Lets try and answer some questions you might have.
So you have decided where and when you want to go. You have made arrangements to get to the start point and you have checked the bike over. Everything is ready to go except you haven’t packed! Yes you should check the weather forecast to get some idea of what you are likely to encounter. Some clothing will depend on your own preference but its always better to stay warm and dry so pack accordingly and then just put a light waterproof in anyway! Almost all the routes have shops or cafes so you do not need to carry food with you. Small snacks for on the bike are advisable. You should always have water.
What might you encounter in Scotland that you will not elsewhere? The dreaded midge! Insect repellent between May and September is a must.
Scotland is a wonderful country great in the sunshine sometimes even better under moody grey clouds or snow. Not to photograph it would be a travesty. There will be ample chances to stop and record your journey.
Your guide will have an array of tools and the knowledge to carry out roadside repairs but carrying spare tubes and a chain link is recommended. Once more most of the routes will have access to cycle shops.
SBT want you to enjoy the journey the only time there will be speed requirements is if we need to catch a ferry but you will find that the itinerary is more likely to have you miss a ferry to allow you to get food or relax than push the pace!
Prior to departure you will be sent an info sheet which will contain …….info! On clothing, terrain, mileage and attractions.
I hope this has helped if not try the FAQ page on http://www.scottishbiketouring.com
I hope you have had a good festive season and are looking forward to getting out on your bike for some tours in the coming months.
What have I been up to since the end of the “season”? After a few hard months on the road I gave my bikes some TLC. Removed chains and cassettes, renewed handlebar tape, checked tyres and pressures and brakes. The difference was amazing no more clunky changing a fresh look and feel to the bars and reliable stopping power! I was still riding them and taking part in other activities to avoid starting the new season suffering from the Ullrich effect. Off the bike I was attending yoga and pilates classes and running occasionally.
The website got a new look and I was posting on the facebook almost every day. Tours are no longer listed by date rather the client picks the day and date, gets in touch with me and I will either confirm or suggest alternatives.
I put some advertising in place on Facebook and in Cycle magazine. This has resulted in a booking for the Island Adventure tour. A favourite of mine!
I have also been experimenting with some new dishes and snacks. I have found the basis for the recipes on the internet or in books then just tweaked them a little to suit my taste or the produce available. The first recipes will be in the February edition.
This years plans are beginning to take shape and some will be finalised when the Calmac timetable is released. Keep your eye on FB and the website for new tours this year and for old favourites.
SBT is hoping to be at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling in 2017 with a new “mystery” ride on offer.
That’s all for this first edition of the monthly blog.
Scottish Bike Touring does what it says on the tin, but what are the origins of the company?
Until May 2013 I had never biked more than 60 miles most of these miles covered looking at the tarmac as I raced in triathlons and duathlons. In 2013 I decided to do the LEJoG and thought that I had better get some serious miles in and get used to biking day after day.
Along came the Rat Race London to Edinburgh event. Billed as 400 miles over 4 days the event is fully supported and all you have to do is erect and dismantle a tent at each end of the day and pedal 100 miles! Done!
Two weeks later I was at Penzance ready to begin the LEJoG 1004 miles in 14 days! Done!
It was during this trip that I got the touring bug, pedalling every day sometimes in the wind and rain and other days in the sun. Pedalling along flat canal banks, through city streets and up hill and down dale.
I visited places I had never seen before unless it was from a speeding car now I could stop, learn about the area, buildings, famous sons and daughters and take photos to remember the experience.
SBT aims to give it’s clients that same experience whether its a simple day tour down the Union Canal or a longer trip exploring the Western Isles.
If I was to say that there is over 2000 miles of cycleways in the UK many of which are underused what would be you’re reaction?
I am talking about the canal network. Some of the canals have been with us since the 12th Century they vary in length from 0.1 miles, the Wardle Canal in Cheshire which connects the Trent and Mersey to the Shropshire union canal, to the 142 mile Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
They pass through Highland Glens, historic castles and bisect our major cities. Traffic free, flat and mainly well maintained some of these paths are on the NCN so why not give them a try?
SBT have several tours which travel along the Caledonian Canal and the Union canal an ideal introduction to cycle touring or if you like something more testing do the Great Glen Way which follows the Caledonian Canal.
I was in Oban for a hillwalking weekend with 3 munros on the agenda and a bike in planned for one of them. Unfortunately I found myself in Oban SYHA as the others left for Mull and Ben More but with a bike and “virgin territory” there is always something to do!
NCN 78 is a route in the throes of building and planning, partially complete the idea is to link Oban with Fort William so I set off from the hostel to see how far I could get without encountering traffic. The answer-Not very far!
I headed along the esplanade just as the Calmac ferry returned from Mull. On road then pavement with some amazing views back to Kerrera island and Oban Bay.
Past Dunollie castle and then along to Ganavan Sands which looked to be the sight of an orienteering comp. At Ganavan there is a large board erected by Sustrans with info on the route interesting but out of date/old unless there just has not been much movement. I headed up the path as indicated on the board onto a tarmaced section which headed away from the beach and into the country and through some woods a pleasent stretch indeed with some short testing climbs. The route then goes into the village of Dunbeg and wides a route through the streets of a village until it brings you out on the very busy A85.
I continued along the A85 looking for an unmarked road which would take me back in a loop to Oban. I found the entrance situated on a bend and crossed the road and headed up it. The road led to a farm and although there was a couple of gates to open was in good condition and quiet! I stayed on the track heading back to Oban and came out at the south end of the town near a golf course and picked up NCN 8 signs as I got closer to the town centre.
Dist 10.6 miles climb 770 ft in 1:22:22