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Cairngorms & Speyside - Self-Guided Cycling Holiday

7 Day: Self-Guided : Road/Touring

Day 1: Inverness

Your redspokes' self-guided cycling tour begins in the Highland capital, Inverness. Flights to Inverness are routed from destinations across the UK and Europe. There are also good coach and rail links to Inverness. From the airport, coach and rail station taxis are readily available to take you to your hotel.  For details see Essential Information as well as your Joining Instructions.  On arrival, you have a free afternoon to explore the area. You could visit Inverness Old Town, the Victorian Market or St Andrew's Cathedral or take a circular walk from the castle along the river and through the Ness Islands.

We will have a bike fitting and tour briefing at 3pm. We will arrange a taxi transfer from your guest house to our office and ask that you bring with you any bike accessories you would like fitted to your bike.

Accommodation: Hotel/B&B (B)

 Day 2: Inverness 

You begin your Cairngorms & Speyside self-guided adventure with a local ride this morning, taking a circular route down to Loch Ness and back to Inverness; this will stretch your legs and warm you up for the coming days. The first 10 miles of your cycle to the loch side are relatively flat. Reaching the hamlet of Dores on the banks of Loch Ness where there is a long shingle beach, you will have a spectacular view that stretches 22 miles down the narrow loch towards Fort Augustus, with the steep sides of the Great Glen fault rising over 1,000 feet on each side.

From Dores you head away from the loch beginning a steep climb over the next few miles, looking back you’ll have lovely views of the area. You skim the tip of Loch Ashie and then Loch Duntelchaig on your right, heading towards Essich on undulating terrain over about 8 miles.  You will drop downhill again for the next 5 miles as you head back into Inverness. You’ll have some time to explore the city later today.  You could visit the Old Town and Victorian Market or St Andrew's Cathedral or you can take a circular walk from the castle along the river and through the Ness Islands.

Cycling Distance: 28 miles (61 km)
Total Ascent: 1,550 ft (602 m)
Total Descent:1,550 ft (602 m)
Accommodation: Hotel/B&B (B)

Day 3: Inverness to Grantown-on-Spey 

Travelling out of Inverness you will soon arrive at the historic Culloden Battlefield, a significant period in Scottish history, where the Jacobite Revolution came to a dramatic end. Many of those that died in this horrific battle did so at the hands of other Clans who fought with Government soldiers. You will get an opportunity to visit the battlefield and experience its poignancy. There will also be an opportunity to visit the Culloden Exhibition Centre which features artefacts from both sides of the battle as well as  interactive displays which explain the background to the conflict.

Nearby is Clava Cairns, a well-preserved Bronze Age cemetery complex of passage graves; ring and kerb cairns and standing stones in a scenic location. Around 2000 BC a row of large cairns was built, three of which remain today. Use of the cemetery resumed about 100 years later and new burials were placed in some of the existing cairns. Three smaller monuments were built including a 'kerb cairn'. Remains of a smaller cemetery can also be seen at Milton of Clava, a short distance away.  Archaeological excavations have found evidence of farming on the site before any of these monuments were built.

The route then follows a section of the military road, sometimes called General Wade's Military Road that was constructed as part of an attempt by the British Government to bring order to a part of the country which had risen up in the Jacobite rebellions.  A 13-mile (21km) undulating climb takes you to the Slochd Summit, a mountain pass before a superb 15-mile (24km) descent journeying to Grantown-on-Spey on the edge of the spectacular Cairngorms National Park. Here you can relax and visit one of the local hostelries for a wee dram. A just reward for our day of cycling.

Cycling Distance: 68km (42 miles)
Total Climb: 690 m (2,263 ft)
Total Descent: 480 m (1,574 ft)
Accommodation:  Hotel/B&B (B)

Day 4: Grantown-on-Spey to Dufftown

Today’s destination is Dufftown, the 'Malt Whisky Capital' of the world.

Your cycling starts with a 15-mile (24km) undulating ride to Ballindalloch Castle. Known as the ‘pearl of the north’, this 16th Century fortification is regarded as one of the best examples of a Scottish Baronial Castle - the well-maintained walled gardens are spectacular, a truly hidden gem.

You are now in the heart of the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail, an area with seven world-famous working distilleries. After a further 7 undulating miles you’ll reach the Glenlivet Distillery in the remote and secluded Livet valley. King George IV visited the still in 1822 for a discreet illicit tasting. Two years later, owner George Smith became the first legal distillery in the parish of Glenlivet much to the displeasure of his bootlegging counterparts. Glenlivet's stills are lantern shaped with long, narrow necks, which help to produce a light flavour

If you’re a whisky lover and partial to a glass at the end of a long day in the saddle or just interested in discovering more about this ancient art, we would suggest visiting the Glenfiddich distillery after you arrive into Dufftown. 

Cycling Distance: 56 km (35 miles)
Total Climb: 520 m (1,706 ft)

Total Descent: 550 m (1,804 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel/B&B (B)

Day 5: Dufftown to Forres

As you leave Dufftown, you’ll pass the 13th Century Balvenie Castle, it has a rich and at times bloody history, Mary Queen of Scots was a guest here in 1562. From there you cycle gradually north, riding along the River Spey, which is probably the most famous salmon & sea trout fishing river in the entire world.

On route you pass Gordon Castle,  which has the oldest and largest walled kitchen gardens in Britain. Their café is a perfect place for lunch where most of the seasonal produce is grown in the garden

Before reaching Elgin there is a 2-mile detour to reach Spey Bay, a beautiful coastal reserve with the largest shingle beach in Scotland where the Scottish National Dolphin Centre is based

From here you’ll head inland passing the Elgin Cathedral, described as the 'Lantern of the North' this majestic medieval ruin has two towers: West Front and Chapter House that remain intact.  Climbing to the top of one of these towers you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the area.

From Elgin it's a flat 25km ride to your accommodation in Forres, a small town that's been the winner of the "Scotland in Bloom" award on several occasions.

Cycling Distance: 74 km (46 miles)
Total Climb: 490 m (1,607 ft)
Total Descent: 660 m (2,165 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel/B&B (B)

Day 6: Forres to Inverness 

Today you set off riding on flatter terrain staying parallel with the coast. After 11 km you reach the 16thC Brodie castle, a grand ancestral home of the Brodie clan for over 400 years. Now managed by the National Trust, inside there are impressive art collections, decorative ceilings and fine furniture. Outside, you can explore beautifully landscaped gardens and a nature trail.

You will then continue cycling on quiet flat roads to Nairn a tranquil seaside resort, with three beautiful beaches, and two championship golf courses. It’s one of the sunniest and driest places in Scotland.

From here there’s an 8km modest climb before a lovely descent to Cawdor Castle mythologized by Shakespeare as home to the Thane of Cawdor, the fort was in fact not built until the 14th Century. Cawdor was constructed on the ruins of an ancient medieval fort built around a holly tree. The remains can still be seen within the building.

The final 27km is on undulating quiet back roads to Inverness where your self-guided redspokes’ Cairngorms & Speyside cycling tour ends. 

 Cycling Distance: 63 km (39 miles)
Total Climb: 460 m (1,509 ft)
Total Descent: 461 m (1,512 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel/B&B (B)

Day 7: Inverness


Your self-guided Scottish cycling tour officially ends this morning. 

If you need assistance or wish to discuss the tour, please feel free to call us on +44 (0) 1463 417707.

Alternatively, you can email us on office@redspokes.co.uk for more information on this adventure holiday.