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02/05/2018

Discover some of Scotland's most stunning cycle routes with CalMac

Ardnamurchan Cycling Route

Mull Circular

Distance - 85 miles, climbing - 5400 feet

Start and finish - Craignure Ferry Terminal, Isle of Mull

Mull is the perfect self-contained island location for a cycling holiday in Scotland, with numerous options for all abilities. Our route is a clockwise loop starting and ending in Craignure, where the ferry arrives from Oban. Hugging the Atlantic coast for much of it, this circuit conveniently has several short cuts options. After a flat start the road heads inland, climbing up and through Glen More. It then pierces its way through Mull's awesome mountainous terrain and the road then loops round the mighty Ben More. At 967 metres, it's a mountains and ocean combination that's hard to better, anywhere.

Now 35 miles in and at the village of Gruline, there's a useful cut through road that will shorten this route by 37 miles. Carrying on for the full route, the road hugs the north side of Loch Na Keil.  With the flat riding firmly over, the road now becomes an up and down affair. With a couple of particularly steep albeit short climbs, the section flings you out into the western most reaches of the UK. It's a stunning and breath-taking environment, perfect for road biking. There's a couple of short cut options here too, one at Achleck and the other at Dervaig. The main route has a solid two stage climb out of Dervaig and onwards to Tobermory with its beautiful harbour and plentiful refuelling options. Climbing once again, this time out of the village and along the shore line of the Sound of Mull, the terrain eventually levels and it's a largely flat ride back to Craignure.

Kintyre Way

Distance: 67 miles, climbing to 4,300 feet,

Start: Campbeltown

The Kintyre peninsula provides a spectacular platform for a Scottish cycling holiday. Surrounded by sea, hills and rugged islands, its quiet roads give you some of the most memorable cycle routes in Scotland. CalMac's new summer service from Ardrossan to Campbeltown makes Kintyre more accessible than ever. Our route is a straightforward clockwise loop from Campbeltown. Heading north west out of the town to start with, you're soon on the Atlantic Coast, glassy calm one day with big surf the next. The well surfaced, wide and quiet road is a joy to ride. A largely flat ride for now, you soon see the island of Gigha to the west with Islay and the mighty Paps of Jura looking on approvingly. 25 miles in and nearing the village of Clachan, things begin to become more undulating and once you turn west and heads towards Claonaig, the biking changes, a lot. Wide roads become single track with climbing and descending in full flow. The contrast is stark and is part of what makes this ride so special. Now over on the peninsula's east side, Arran in all its rugged beauty comes thundering into view. The climbs are never long but they do zap the energy levels so make sure you're properly fuelled. In any case, the surroundings here are not difficult to draw inspiration from. Remember there's always energy around, it's up to you whether you use it.

Dropping into some idyllic bays along the way, take your time to enjoy things here. Carradale with its lovely small harbour and amazing beach is well worth a stop and if you fancy a little dip in Torrisdale Bay, why not? This is not a place where speed is essential. Eventually on the final stretch there's one last climb out of Peninver. With that over, Davaar island, Campbeltown loch and the town itself are all on full display, signally the finish to a truly memorable day's riding.

Harris, Outer Hebrides

Distance: 46 miles, climbing to 3100ft

Start: Tarbert

Locations for cycling holidays in Scotland don't come much better than the Outer Hebrides. Small bits of land seemingly flung into the Atlantic Ocean provide the dream setting. Our suggestion is a route taking in a large part of the glorious island of Harris. If ever a place had everything, it has to be Harris. Rugged mountains, staggeringly beautiful beaches, empty roads all wrapped up in ever changing inland and coastal waters. Tarbert, with its regular ferry service from Uig in the Isle of Skye, provides the perfect base for this Hebridean classic circular.

Heading south from Tarbert, the route soon turns south eastwards on the narrow single-track road with lochs, sea and tiny islands all around. Clinging to the coastline at every opportunity, this marvellous minor road is gently undulating and virtually traffic free. The occasional sheep may wander across in front of you, in no rush to do anything so follow their lead and take time to savour this incredible road riding experience. Sea lochs puncture the coastline as you meander around them.  Into the village of Roghadal the road widens, and you head on to Leverburgh and the island's west coast. The riding is now pretty flat as the Atlantic air energises you. You then see Scarasta beach. It's very hard to believe what you are seeing. Weather can be a challenge here but, in any conditions, Scarasta beach is a sight to behold. If you can manage to tear yourself away, head onwards and eastwards to Seilebost. Shortly after, there's the biggest climb of the day. 3 miles with 400 feet of ascent. It's a solid climb but height gives views and they are very welcome in this most incredible of landscapes. The descent and glorious final few miles back to Tarbert is a fitting end to this unbeatable Outer Hebrides cycle route.

Are you up for the challenge? Book your next cycling adventure here.

Image credit: Andy McCandlish 

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