Fort William to Oban

Yellow Fang

Legendary Member
Location
Reading
I plan to do a little bit of cycle touring with a mate, starting from Fort William to Oban. We want to catch the ferry to Barra about 1pm. Originally I thought we'd cycle down the main road, the A82 followed by the A828. My friend was not too happy about that and suggested using the Sustrans NCN 78 route, which I believe runs down the other side of whatever body of water they call it. What's that route like? Do we have to catch ferries? We're a little bit pushed for time. It's 48 miles, but we're not that fit, and there might be a head wind.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
The 'body of water' is Loch Linnhe. You have to catch a ferry at Fort William (doesn't run on Sundays!) and another to get back over at Corran. That saves you about 10 miles on the A82, which I would definitely want to do! The A82 is the only road in that direction so all the traffic goes up and down it, and it isn't particularly wide. The road on the other side of the loch is lovely. I posted a photo a few years back - hang on ... here you go:

where-was-this-taken-jpg.jpg


That is Ben Nevis in the distance, towering over Fort William.

A lot of the rest of the route has cyclepaths, forest trails or minor roads to get you away from the A-road traffic but there are a couple of short sections where there is no escaping it - maybe 2 or 3 miles in total.
 
OP
Yellow Fang

Yellow Fang

Legendary Member
Location
Reading
The 'body of water' is Loch Linnhe. You have to catch a ferry at Fort William (doesn't run on Sundays!) and another to get back over at Corran. That saves you about 10 miles on the A82, which I would definitely want to do! The A82 is the only road in that direction so all the traffic goes up and down it, and it isn't particularly wide. The road on the other side of the loch is lovely. I posted a photo a few years back - hang on ... here you go:

View attachment 462672

That is Ben Nevis in the distance, towering over Fort William.

A lot of the rest of the route has cyclepaths, forest trails or minor roads to get you away from the A-road traffic but there are a couple of short sections where there is no escaping it - maybe 2 or 3 miles in total.
Thanks, it looks nice. The problem is that the first ferry from Fort William to the other side of Loch Linnhe is at 7:45, and the ferry at Corran goes about every half hour and takes 15 minutes. The ferry from Oban to Castlebay leaves at 1:30, so we have about four hours to cover 48 miles, when we are carrying panniers and cycling into a headwind.

Since we are going on Good Friday, I'd be tempted to get out at daybreak and do the first ten miles on the A82 until we pick up the cycle path. The traffic should not be too bad then. I have cycled the A82 before, doing LEJOG. According to my log, the traffic was terrible leaving Glasgow, but eased up by the time I got to Glencoe.

I will have to look up the rail and ferry options too. Apparently there's a ferry that goes from Fort William to Oban.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
I am pretty sure that there is NOT a direct ferry. There isn't a direct rail route either so you would have to change at Crianlarich. The rail journey takes nearly 4 hours and first train is about the same time as the first ferry!

I reckon your plan is the best one - hit the main road as early as possible to avoid traffic and give you maximum cycling time, and use the cyclepaths after the first 10 miles.
 
I will have to look up the rail and ferry options too. Apparently there's a ferry that goes from Fort William to Oban.
Don't think so, there never used to be and if there is now it might be one of these community ferries, so not big but I just can't see why there would be a need for it.

I used to live up that way and the A82 from Fort Bill varies a lot in it's unpleasantness by time of year and day. It is rideable even if it's not enjoyable and it quite possibly won't be at Easter. Once you get past Corpach the road widens. The A828 is not bad but I think there's a decent cycle path alongside much of it now anyway.

Sounds like you've got it planned but a far more pleasant way to get to Oban, if a lot tougher a ride, is to go the other side of Loch Linnhe up to Strontian onto Salen and down to Kilchoan. Take the ferry to Mull and then ride 20 miles down to Craignure and take the ferry to Oban but that probably doesn't fit with your plans.

You're gonna have to be going some and not hanging about to get there in 4 hours.
 
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ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Sounds like you've got it planned but a far more pleasant way to get to Oban, if a lot tougher a ride, is to go the other side of Loch Linnhe up to Strontian onto Salen and down to Kilchoan. Take the ferry to Mull and then ride 20 miles down to Craignure and take the ferry to Oban but that probably doesn't fit with your plans.
My cousin lives in the area and one of his favourite rides is to cycle to Corran, catch the ferry, follow your route to Mull, Craignure, Oban, then back home via Connel.
 
My cousin lives in the area and one of his favourite rides is to cycle to Corran, catch the ferry, follow your route to Mull, Craignure, Oban, then back home via Connel.
Fabulous ride. He must be pretty fit though, it's not a ride for the feint hearted.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Fabulous ride. He must be pretty fit though, it's not a ride for the feint hearted.
He is!

Which reminds me - he comes down for the Tour de Yorkshire every year and he hasn't been in touch about this year's race yet, even though it is only a couple of weeks away. I'll email him now to check his plans.
 

Ajax Bay

Veteran
Location
East Devon
rom Fort William to Oban. We want to catch the ferry to Barra about 1pm. We're a little bit pushed for time. It's 48 miles
I agree that the A82 to Corran is an unattractive ride (I'd say it was the worst 10 miles of the 1000 on my end-to-end). But given your destination and timings there is no option (the Camusnagaul ferry would get you across for 8am (though maybe not on Good Friday) but you'd then have to allow time for the Corran ferry back and then you'd be under time pressure all the way to Oban - no fun.
I reckon your plan is the best one - hit the main road as early as possible to avoid traffic and give you maximum cycling time, and use the cyclepaths after the first 10 miles.
This - but you'll find the main road a better option for some sections as the NCN winds a bit in places (nevertheless it's got some lovely stretches) - and you've got to be in good time to buy a ticket before your ferry from Oban.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
I wasn't too keen on the traffic along Loch Awe either!

My mum came from that area so I have been up there a lot. I love going there on holiday but being restricted to a small number of busy roads by the mountains and lochs would be depressing. Once you get to somewhere away from the traffic - great!
 

Edwardoka

Prolix Maximus
In my limited experience (have ridden both twice), the road between Dalmally and Taynuilt makes for unpleasant interactions with drivers, but the section between Fort William and Corran is much worse.
 
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