2019 Scotland

Routes and report

Routes:

Edinburgh - Cairngorms National Park - Findhorn (Findhorn Foundation) - Inverness - North Coast 500
2019.07_Scotland Route
2019.07_Scotland Route

 

North Coast 500
North Coast 500

Report:

If you want to cycle through Scotland, there are two possibilities:
1.) Pre-plan all routes and book all overnight accommodation, ...i.e. riding in any wind and weather; -- > There are no overnight stays in hotels and B&B at short notice!
2.) Take a tent with you and stay spontaneous
Of course we decided for "a tent and spontaneous"...
Ideal conditions for a great bike tour; the Cairngorms National Park, ...if the weather is good! There are good streets, plenty of supermarkets and campsites.
The length of the North Coast 500 (as in the picture, including corner Applecross) is quite exactly 500 miles, about 800km. The west coast is extremely beautiful! The corner of Applecross is just fantastic, and further towards Ullapool - Durness it's super beautiful everywhere. Of course, there is traffic - we were on the road in July - tourists with cars and caravans. The roads are often like a single-lane, the cars actually drive slowly and carefully. I think everyone enjoys the beautiful landscape. On the north coast against Thurso is getting  flatter and flatter. You`ll find bigger supermarkets in Ullapool, Durness and Thurso.
If you must (or will) shorten the trip, do it on the east side, maybe from Latheron. From Latheron you have to cycle on the A9, there is a lot of traffic until Inverness
I recommend: From Dornoch choose the street A949 via Bonar Bridge, follow the way until Inverness, ...do not return to the A9! From Dornoch there is a lot of traffic on the A9, even trucks, I don't find it harmless there!
We were pretty lucky with the weather. I needed the rain jacket maybe for two hours during the whole 1100km and I didn`t use the rain pants. Anyway, I Would take everything with you, incl. waterproof shoe covers, bike gloves, etc.
The campsites do NOT have the same standard as in other Nordic countries, ... Denmark, Norway and Sweden. They have no kitchens where you can protect yourself from the bad weather, or from the countless "midges" (small mosquitos). The mosquitos are there or not, ...if yes, they`ll come in a swarm. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, it will be tedious to camp, I would say "almost impossible"! We had problems with mosquitos in two places on the West Coast. But one night later - fortunately - they disappeared, ...maybe because of the wind...!?
We decided to travel home by train. Basel - Paris - London - Edinburgh.
Important note for the train journey by bike: In the TGV you can take the bicycle with you for free, but you have to pack the bike in a case (softcase is enough). At Eurostar (Paris-London), you must check-in, similar to check-in at the airport, ... rather tedious! The bike must be placed at a special counter, "Euro-Dispatch", quite outside the station. You have to pay  (about 50 Euros for one way) for the luggage, "packed" or "not packed" (both possible).  Importnat: you have to add about 2 hours extra, otherwise you will miss the train! I recommend you to give up the bike "not packed". In the "London North Eastern Railway"  (London to North) the transport of bicycles is allowed "unpacked", it has special "velo hooks" on the trains! Important: you have to register the bike, you get a reservation number, nice effect, "no additional costs".
"Scotland in the saddle" is incredibly beautiful, just fantastic... 🙂