Cycling in Scotland
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With rugged terrain and sometimes harsh weather, Scotland can be challenging to cyclists.
A good start online is Open Cycle Maps.
Roads and touring
There are many quiet roads throughout rural Scotland, suitable for cycling. Routes of the National Cycle Network span the country, made up of quiet country roads and traffic-free paths.
Both A- and B- roads may be quite busy in the central belt, in and between major conurbations, and in summer on main tourist routes; you may wish to plan your journey to avoid these roads if you are uncomfortable cycling in traffic.
Cycling Scotland from Scotland’s National Tourist Board publishes a list of cycling routes throughout Scotland.
Mountain biking in Scotland
Mountain biking in the Cairngorms
Mountain biking in the Cairngorms National Park combines superb off-road trails and natural singletrack with spectacular scenery. There are trails for most abilities, from mapped and waymarked routes to more challenging unwaymarked epic rides through this rugged, mountainous area. There’s also Laggan Wolftrax, a dedicated MTB trail centre, run by Forestry Commission Scotland.
Cycling for families and novices
For families and more leisurely cyclists the waymarked trails on the Rothiemurchus Estate are ideal, rolling through old Scots pine forest, with glimpses of the nearby loch and ruined castle. Route maps are available at the Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre.
The trails start from the village of Inverdruie – easily reachable via bike track from Aviemore. The 9-km Loch an Eilein and 8-km Lochan Deo routes are easy-graded, while the longer, 16-km Ancient Forest route, which heads out to Loch Morlich via Coylumbridge, is slightly more challenging given the distance, but still within the capabilities of most families.
Glenlivet Estate, part of the Crown Estate, (Tomintoul) has a network of six waymarked cross-country mountain bike routes ranging from 12 km to 28 km. Using forest track, moorland track, farmland and minor roads the routes provide access to some stunning areas of the estate including the Carn Daimh viewpoint at 570 m offering panoramic views across the area. A free map of the routes is available here.
The Speyside Way also links up a number of towns and is great family, low level or mtb trail touring.
Cairngorms National Park has an excellent range of unmarked trails. Moor of Feshie is ideal for a gentler ride of this type, but this is a vast, rugged, mountainous area, so there’s great scope for epic outings and multi-day adventures:
- Ride from Inverdruie to Braemar via Glen Feshie on a multitude of interweaving paths and trails.
- Take the Burma Road route - a classic - with a stiff ascent and some fine cross-country riding.
- 33-km on dirt tracks through the Ryvoan Pass, via Abernethy, around the back of the Kincardine Hills and back over the Sluggan Pass to Loch Morlich.
- 19-km return trip from Lochan Deo to Loch Einich, via Glen Einich: tough, stunning views, and a wade through a boulder-filled river.
Great trail riding can also be found around Nethy Bridge, Grantown on Spey and on the eastern side of the Cairngorms massif.
Set in the natural beauty of Strathmashie Forest, Wolftrax provides a green-graded beginners' trail, the thrills of a big-and-bermy Bike Park, a fast red-graded route packed with features and a black-graded trail that's possibly the most technical of its type in Scotland. A café, bike shop and hire is on site.
All riders should be aware of the Scottish Outdoor access code and the forest cycling code.
Mountain biking on the 7stanes
The 7stanes is a series of mountain bike trails in forests throughout the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.
Centres are at Glentrool, Kirroughtree, Dalbeattie, Mabie, Ae, Tweed Valley (Glentress and Innerleithen) and Newcastleton.
Mountain biking at Nevis Range
Nevis Range, near Fort William, has cross-country, downhill and 4-cross courses and hosts a round of the UCI mountain bike World Cup every year.
- Great Glen Way, a route for walkers and mountain bike in the Scottish Highlands.
- Speyside Way is a walking and cycling route in Northeast Scotland.