Cycle and Sail – Biking and Boating in the Highlands
The Scottish Highlands are easily one of the most exciting places in the world for outdoor enthusiasts. Nowhere else will you find the geographic diversity offered here. The Highlands has everything you could want, including majestic mountain peaks, beautiful coastline, forest trails, and enough organised activities to keep you busy for the rest of your life. At the heart of it all are adventures centred on biking and boating.
The cycle and sail lifestyle is alive and well in the Highlands thanks to the incredible natural resources found here. Locals know all the best spots for getting out and enjoying what nature has to offer. If you are a visitor, don’t worry. There are plenty of people available to help you make the most of your time spent in the Highlands. Moreover, if you have never been before, 2015 should be your year for a Highlands holiday.
Biking in the Highlands
Who would have thought that when the bicycle was first introduced in the early 19th century, cycling enthusiasts would one-day be barrelling down mountain trails at death defying speeds? Indeed, mountain biking is a favourite pastime in the Highlands. And why not? There are dozens of trails for every skill level throughout the region.
You and your friends can find your favourite trail and go alone or, if you prefer, take an organised trip with a mountain biking company that specialises in guided adventures. It is entirely up to you. Here are just a few examples of what you can experience while biking in the Highlands:
- Isle of Skye – The Isle of Skye is one of the largest islands in the Highlands region. It is known for its incredible mountain peaks that make for great mountain bike riding. In fact, the 4 mile long Quiring is ranked as one of the best single-track mountain bike trails in the UK.
- Fort William – Fort William is known as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ thanks to its abundance of outdoor opportunities. Among them are numerous mountain biking trails in and around the Nevis Range. One of the best things about cycling at Fort William is that there is so much more to do. You will never have an off day – even if you don’t feel like getting on the bike.
- Kyle of Sutherland – At the Kyle of Sutherland at Inverness, you will find a number of world-class trails for different skill levels. The Balblair, for example, is a black grade trail for experienced riders looking for a challenge. The Ceilid Trail is an option for less experienced riders.
Of course, not all the biking opportunities in the Highlands involve dedicated mountain trails. There are plenty of choices for leisurely cycling combined with sightseeing. You can bike along the A9 with one of the many groups that traverse the road during the summer months. On the other hand, you might consider staying at a local bed-and-breakfast in order to spend your days of cycling around town.
Visitors looking for a more leisurely cycling experience can, like their mountain biking counterparts, enjoy tours with specialist companies and their local guides. In addition, there is no need to bring your bike with you. Tour operators and cycle shops have plenty of rentals available at good prices.
Boats and Cruises in Scotland
Scotland’s love for the water is no secret. The water has been an important part of Scotland’s history and heritage since men first began roaming the northern portions of the British Isles. Therefore, it should be no surprise that there are plenty of boating opportunities in the Highlands region.
As a visitor, you have many options to choose from. You can go it alone with a kayak, canoe, or motorised craft you own or rent. Alternatively, you can cruise with a specialist tour operator or a charter boat captain. What’s more, there are thousands of miles of waterways to explore. Each one offers a unique perspective of Scotland you cannot experience by staying on land. What is there to see? Here are just a few examples:
- Caledonian Canal – The Caledonian Canal splits the Highlands in two, running from Inverness on the east to Corpach on the west. This amazing waterway was built in the early 1800s by engineer Thomas Telford, linking four existing lochs to the two coasts with the addition of some 20 miles of man-made waterway.
- The Lochs – Believe it or not, the Highlands region is home to some 30,000 individual lochs of varying sizes and depths. You could spend your entire life exploring just the lochs alone. Some of the more famous include Loch Ness, Loch Lochy, and Loch Oich.
- River Clyde – The River Clyde is the third longest river in Scotland and the ninth longest in the UK. It is a major waterway that was key to the establishment of Glasgow during the late 12th century. The river offers 109 miles of beautiful scenery and real adventure.
- The Coast – Scotland’s extensive coastline goes on for mile after mile. Coastal cruises are very popular in the Highlands, especially along the west coast. The Summer Isles region offers an abundance of marine wildlife along with rocky coastline and impressive views of ancient castles.
As you can see, the waterway adventures are as abundant as those on land are. Needless to say that the Highlands will keep you busy no matter how many times you pay a visit. You already know what we are talking about if you are a resident.
Clyde Cruises is thrilled to be part of the Highlands adventure. We offer a full range of cruising opportunities throughout the spring, summer, and early autumn. Cruise out of Oban with Clyde Cruises to see some extraordinary castles and other important sites. If you prefer a wildlife adventure, join us on one of our whale watching cruises along the west coast. Alternatively, relax and unwind as you gracefully cruise the Caledonian Canal from Fort William. Our Cycle and Sail product is the ideal way to combine both activities. Its a great way to get the whole family outdoors and allows you to sail on a stretch of the canal and then cycle back or vice versa. Our partners at Rockhopper will make sure you are kitted out with all the right equipment and help locate the best cycle paths and routes.
Are you looking for a holiday adventure? Come to the Scottish Highlands to enjoy a cycle and sail on the Caledonian Canal. You may never want to leave!