Scotland

Introduction

In this page we are concerned with a two week tour we did in the June 1997. This is the first time we have stayed within the UK for our main holiday, so it gives the chance of some comparisions. We decided on the north west highlands, that bit north of Inverness.

Getting There

In our case it was not difficult and the choice was the only one available to us. We loaded the tandem onto our roof rack, one in which the tandem lies on its side, but which slides down on the side of the car, making it fairly easy to load and unload. We then drove north and parked the car just north of Inverness, until our tour was done. Anyone travelling from the south of England may find flying more convenient, to Inverness or Wick.

Weather

Tends to be dominated by the weather system of the Atlantic, so generally wet and cold in the NW and warmer and dryer in the E. Our choice of dates co-incided with a very hot spell, especially so far north, and the first few days were really too hot for cycling. We had one real bad day of headwinds and rain, then the rest was quite pleasant. Much the same as we found in Ireland, Spain and elsewhere.

The Terrain

This is a mountainous area so we knew some climbing was due, but in the main we followed valleys and the coast, although the latter can be quite hilly. The west coast had long gentle hills, but the north coast was more short and steep ones.We found it harder than our other tours. There are very few roads so the choice is restricted and they do carry all the traffic in that area. However it is not heavily populated so traffic is quite light compared to the rest of Scotland.

Maps

Ordnance Survey are the popular ones for cyclists, usually the 1/50000, 2cm to 1km scale, each map covering an area 25 miles x 25 miles. For longer tours the 1/250000, 2cm to 5km, is more suitable with eight covering all of the country, and this is the one we used.

Food and Lodgings

We relied on B&B establishments and found them in all the villages of any reasonable size and had no problem finding them, mainly because this is a popular tourist area. Food en route was usuallly at one of the frequent hotels, or by buying from the infrequent shops. Overall it worked out more expensive than Ireland.

Other areas of Scotland

South West Scotland, where we visited on short breaks, is great for gentle hills, and a mass of quiet roads.
Morayshire, east of Inverness, has a choice of flat or hilly areas, all are good for cycling if you avoid the main roads. Angus, on the east coast, also similar terrain, is good, as is the neighbouring Perthshire.