SBT does the Five Ferries

Start timeThe Five Ferries is an iconic Scottish road cycle on the west coast of Scotland.

Regarded by many as a one day challenge and indeed run as a challenge in one of it’s guises, the Five Ferries is a approx 100 miles long, you travel on Five Ferries, two islands and 3 peninsulas.

There are a number of ways to cycle this route my preference is to start at Ardrossan and get the ferry to Arran and head south around the bottom of the island.  Arran has a spectacular coastline and it is laid out before you as you head around the island.  This is the longest cycle leg with the most climb and is an ideal stopping point if you want to do the ride over 2 days rather than 1.Climb from Brodick

Ferry number 2 takes you from Arran to the Kintyre peninsula and a ride north to the village of Tarbert an ideal lunch stop.  You have cycled 50 miles by this point and climbed almost 4000 ft!  Alas if the group speed is not sufficient to build a cushion its no lunch and straight on Ferry No 3 to Portavadie and the Kyles of Bute.Tarbert

If you would like some luxury rooms for an overnight stay this is the place!  This is the third cycle leg and the scenery is just awesome.  You cycle round the Kyles of Bute to board ferry No 4 at Colintraive travelling to the Island of Bute.  A short fast 8 miles sees you in Rothesay for the final ferry to Wemyss Bay and the final ride to Ardrossan.

This is not an easy one day ride and the added pressure of ferries to catch with the chance that they might be cancelled for one reason or the other makes it an adrenalin raising ride!

There is plenty to see on this tour I would recommend that you take your time and take the two day tour and as I said there are a number of ways to do this ride it can be shortened reducing the 100 miles to something more like 80.

 

 

 

 

Waterways C2C (West coast)

Possibly the shortest and easiest C2C route in the country starting at Bowling to the west of Glasgow and stretching across Central Scotland to Leith this is a relitively flat route almost exclusively on Canal or cycle paths.

I alighted from the train on a bright and dry morning to begin the exploration of the route from Bowling to Leith.  Today I was stopping at Falkirk as I have already done the Falkirk to Leith leg before.  At the basin in Bowling there is a bike shop and a cafe and the start of the route.​

​The surface is tarmaced and in good condition and makes for pleasent cycling.  The first points of interest on the route are the Dalmuir drop lock, the first in the UK and the Beardmore sculpture.

The canal winds it’s way through Knightswood, Kelvnside and Bishopbriggs finally leaving Glasgow and heading for Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth.  Wildlife is rife along the canal I saw these two just lazing around by the bank!

I made my way past Auchinstarry Basin the surface still in great condition towards Bonnybridge and Falkirk.   I stopped for lunch at the wheel and made my way to the station and back to Fife.

A great ride this part of the C2C. Was 31 miles with 1000 ft of climb.

Tay Bridge to Carnoustie

I parked up in the car park at the south end of the Tay Bridge.  A lovely sunny day with a slight westerly wind which would mean a helping hand on the way home.

Carol and I got the bikes unloaded and headed out on NCN 1 and across the Tay Road Bridge.  This bridge is unusual in that the cycle and pedestrian way is raised in the middle rather than on the side.  We headed north with traffic rushing by on both sides.  At the north end we got in the lift and once at ground level headed for the silvery Tay.  We were’nt alongside it for long however before being directed away from the river and into an industrial/commercial estate which leads into the docks.  The cycle path goes straight through the docks and emerges at Stannergate.

Once more alongside the Tay travelling on a well surfaced path.  You can see Broughty Castle in the distance.

NCN 1 takes you past the castle and along Broughty Ferry esplanade to Balmossie and Monifeith.  After Monifeith you are on Barry Links, owned by the MOD and still in use today.  As we approached we could see red flags flying and heard gunfire as live firing is conducted on ranges on the links.  It wasn’t long and we were sitting in Franco’s cafe enjoying a light lunch before retracing our steps back.

A great wee ride of 26 miles with 500 feet of climb all on well surfaced cycle path.

Cyclofun 2017

Cyclofun 2017 is an event organised by the NE Fife Rotary clubs.  It is centered around Tayport FC ground and is a family event with led rides, stalls, cycle obstacle course and kids races.

I took the train from Kirkcaldy to Leuchars the nearest station to St Andrews and home of an ex RAF station now occupied by the army.

It was a short cycle to Tayport on NCN 1 and quiet country roads.  The event started at 1100 and although some setting up was still being done it was busy when I arrived at 1120.  I spoke to the organiser and several of the stall holders and dropped some business cards off whilst I waited for others to arrive so I could assist with the kids races which were due off at 2pm.

We set a course up, just a short lap and started registering riders a small field for both races but the kids enjoyed it and who knows there might be a budding start or two in the field.

After the races were done and the course tidiedup I headed back to Kirkcaldy backtracking at first then heading out towards Ceres on my way to Leven to see Carol and then eventually home.  A good cycle just over 30 miles on the Tour de Fer.  Much better then driving it rally is #betterbybike.

 

SBT does Islay

Islay has been inhabited since 8000BC, at various times the island has been inhabited by the Gaels and Vikings eventually coming under Scots rule in the 12th century.

Having had such a long history the island is full of sights to see both natural and manmade.  Machir Bay a mile of golden sands and voted in the top 30 beaches in the UK by Conde Nast traveller. Finlaggan two islands to the north of Islay one of which is linked to the main island by a walkway.  Tools and weapons from 14th and 15th century have been found on the islands.

If Islay is famous for anything it’s whisky with it’s own festival in May and 8 working distilleries on the island it’s not hard to see why.  With the Island Adventure tour you can spend one of the days on the island touring the distilleries. The YH at Port Charlotte is an ex distillery building!

 

 

 

SBT does Arran

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.

 

 

Touring with SBT

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