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Scotland mini-tour (Lochs and Glens North?)

NoSkillNoSkill Posts: 3
edited October 2013 in Tour & expedition
Hi, I've got a conference in Edinburgh at the end of October so I took the week and a bit off beforehand as holiday and now I've got the idea in my head to do a 'mini-tour' for a few days, as you do :lol:

I've got from the 17th off work, it'll take me most of a day to drive up there from the south west so I can start the tour on Friday 18th, I then need to be back in Edinburgh to check in on Wednesday the 23rd. I've been looking at sustrans and the Lochs and Glens North sounds quite appealing, otherwise theres the Edinburgh to Aberdeen route.

One issue I have is that my road bike probably isn't the best suited to touring, but with my budget being a bit tight unless I get a bargain on ebay I think the best option might be just to adapt that as best as I can. It's currently running 23's, 25's may fit if I'm lucky, so I guess I'll need to avoid any 'off-road' type stuff. Also got no panniers/mudguards and no eyelets/mounts for them, should be able to get mudguards easily enough and from a brief search it seems like Tubus do a couple of useful sets, one is a replacement QR skewer that adds mounts and another bolts to the seat stays to give me mounts for a pannier?

I do also have a hardtail mountain bike, which with some more road friendly would be better suited to the off-road sections but think I'd be better off with the road bike and a few detours?

With panniers/racks, does the rack really matter, and what should I be looking for in panniers?

Does anyone have any experience of either the Lochs and Glens North or Edinburgh to Aberdeen, I've bought the map for the Lochs and Glens North and from what I can see there's a couple of areas where I'm going to need to detour really on a pure road bike? But if anyone has ridden it can they give their opinions on what bits definitely would need a detour or not?

With accommodation I intend to use B&B's or Hostels, any good reccomendations on either route? and is it better to pre-book but limit myself to set points I need to get to or should I just wing it and find somewhere as/when I decide to call it a day?

If I do go for the Glasgow/Inverness route, is there a 'best' way to do it, was originally thinking Glasgow to Inverness, but a bit of thought and some checking later and I can get the train from Glasgow to Inverness on Friday morning at 7:10 (get to Inverness just before 11) and then ride south, which seems a bit better in terms of ending the tour by my car :p

With parking, was thinking airport parking but need to look a bit more, or maybe try to find a B&B to use as start and end point that might let me park there for the duration which would be ideal.

Am I completely insane for even thinking about this, especially on a road bike? Seems like 50 miles a day should be easily doable so ~4 days to complete the trip? (217 miles so bit more than 50 a day I guess)


  • TusherTusher Posts: 2,762
    Hello NoSkill (although I'm sure you have many skills!) and welcome to the forum.

    Those with greater wisdom and experience should be along shortly but Go For It! I'm fat, unfit and fifty, but can easily manage 50 miles a day. Personally, I think I would go with the mountain bike rather than the road bike, and I would opt for the Lochs and Glens route (but I've never done Embra-Aiberdeen). The mountain bike will also be more robust when being carried by plane. Scotrail are excellent at carrying bikes, and really helpful too.

    Do I understand you're flying? Depending on where you're coming from, it may be preferable to take the train north (Caledonian Sleeper), knowing that your bike is not going to be hammered by an underpaid baggage handler.

    Apologies if I'm stated the obvious, but waterproofs and warmer clothing in the panniers. It's suddenly become colder and winter is just around the corner. I would take a small stove to brew up as well, but then I'm a coffee junkie. Probably cheaper in the long run than lots of coffee breaks in cafes.

    I can't help with accommodation I'm afraid, as we camp or stay with friends.

    But above all- ENJOY!
    And let us know how you got on.
  • Thanks Tusher,

    I'm planning to drive actually, I live in Melksham near Bath, bit of a trek but the train is just crazy (both time and money), and flight is awkward with a bike, and would still need to pay for parking etc at Bristol. As it's kind of a work trip I'm getting the cost of the flights (£81) back on expenses and reckon the diesel will cost ~£100, so seems to make sense :p

    The stove sounds like a plan, will be needing my coffee :D

    Still undecided on this, and going to start needing to book stuff soon one way or the other, but it's either gonna be this or just a B&B around loch lomond and rides out during the day, if I do the latter I'll take both road and mtb and see what I can find for both.
  • BarbesBarbes Posts: 72

    Sounds like a great idea. Scotland can be really nice in October though as Tusher says be prepared for all weather. I've not done the exact Lochs and Glens route but I know the area well. Personally I would avoid the east coast and the central belt, as it's really not that scenic, and head north west for quieter roads. I would take the road bike and roughly follow the Lochs and Glens route sticking to quiet roads which they will be the further north and west you go. For 4-5 day trips in the past I've used a Carradice longflap on an extendable seat post rack (no panniers) and travelled light with a tube of travel wash. From Edinburgh you could ride towards Stirling (avoid riding to Glasgow) or even leave your car there to get a good start on the Friday. From there you have loads of possibilities and could easily reach Inverness in your 4 days and get the train back to Stirling. An alternative to Lochs and Glens could be to head to Glasgow and from there head west using ferries to get to some islands or the Kintyre peninsula, Cowal peninsula and Loch Fyne - all excellent for touring. Check Calmac's website for info. One thing to be aware of is that next week (w/c 14th) is half term week in Scotland so maybe think about booking accom for Friday and Sat if you think you'll be somewhere with fewer options. After that, you will be fine just winging it.

    All the best.
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