Inverness to Fort William (then Mull, Western Isles and Skye)

fay144

New Member
I am planning my first tour this summer, and am looking for some specific route advice, and any general advice that is going... My plan is to start in Inverness, down to Fort William (probably staying in Fort Augustus the first night).

From there, we'll head over to the Ardnamurchan pensinsular, take the ferry to Tobermory, spend some time in Mull then out to Barra via Oban, up to Harris, down to Skye, then finish at Kyle of Lochalsh.

From Fort William onwards, I'm happy with the route I've planned, and I've been to a lot of the places camping before (in the car), so know more or less what to expect.

I'm not sure what way to go from Inverness to Fort William though. Firstly, from Inverness to Fort Augustus, I'm not sure whether to take the B862 out of Inverness, or the more minor road that goes through Essich. I have a Bike Scotland book with a few routes to Inverness that take the hillier minor road, but they are all planned for the opposite direction. From the south, it is descriped as steep hair pin bends and a long downhill, which sounds fun, but not sure doing it in the opposite direction would be quite as much fun!

Then from Fort Augustus, I've seen conflicting information about the "Great Glen Way" and it's suitability for touring bikes. Has anyone done this on a tourer? Again, my Bike Scotland book has a route through here that sounds like it would be fine in dry weather, with some on-road alternatives if it's wet. But other places seem to think any of the off road sections along the canal path or through the forest would be MTB only?

Anyone done this, with any advice? Or general tips for my first tour ;-) Planning a weekend mini-tour soon for a practise.

(I'm travelling with my husband, we have 12 nights, and are going to be camping. We are going to take it fairly easy - we want time to spend sightseeing, and are planning a few days off for boat trips and maybe some kayaking and/or climbing. So my plan has a max mileage of 60 in a day, but more often it's under 40.)
 
About your questions - we did the section from fort william to inverness the other way round last year.

Re: the great glen way, bits of it are not rideable on a touring bike and require a push. What will be the final part for you down to fort william - I think it's the last 20 miles by the canal - is fine. There are wide forest roads which are rideable but the surface can be a little 'tacky' and slow you down. The first part south from Fort Augustus is also fine. However there is a roughly five mile section which purportedly goes on a disused railway and through a forest which isn't rideable because the track is very narrow and covered in roots. Fine on an MTB, not on a tourer!

South from inverness, we took the B862 and found it OK, apart from the absolutely ma-hoosive climb before fort augustus. It's 5 miles at around 12%, which, on a fully loaded tourer, can make your knees ache a bit!

Your tour sounds absolutely brilliant, and is almost a carbon copy of my summer hols last year, althgouh we didn't do the hebrides - that was the year before...
 

aberal

Senior Member
Location
Midlothian
Take the B862. The minor road through Essich is hillier and less interesting in many ways, the best views of the Loch are from the lower road.
 
OP
OP
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fay144

New Member
Thanks for the replies so far! Sounds like the B862 it is.

5 miles at 12% though, wow! Just looked at the elevation profile... Maybe I'd better start doing some training.
 

Bromptonaut

Rohan Man
Location
Bugbrooke UK
Don't know the FW/Inverness stuff but make the most of Barra/Uists/Harris. Howmore YH in S Uist has good space for camping and there is an excellent community site at Horgabost on the west side of Harris. The 'golden road' round East Harris is a scenic gem but there are relatively few places where the soil is deep enough to take a tent peg!
 
Bromptonaut said:
Don't know the FW/Inverness stuff but make the most of Barra/Uists/Harris. Howmore YH in S Uist has good space for camping and there is an excellent community site at Horgabost on the west side of Harris. The 'golden road' round East Harris is a scenic gem but there are relatively few places where the soil is deep enough to take a tent peg!

My blog of my hebridges trip last year might be of some help, nice little campsite near to Plocrapol near to Tarbert.

http://gkyuk.multiply.com/photos/album/4/Outer_Hebridges_Cycle_Tour_June_16th_to_24th_June_2009
 
We have just done the Great Glen Way......

From Fort William to InverGarry a tourer is fine with a good fine canal path to work with, but after Invergarry there are a few sections of the track where large core aggregate has been used to fill the holes and requires care. From Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit most of the downhills are narrow track with steep drops and terain best suited to a mountain bike. Drumnadrochit to Inverness is a dream with deserted switchbacks and long downhills.
 

Twilkes

Guru
This seems to be as good a thread as any to bump up, but how is the cycle path between Fort William and Invergarry these days? I rode the (narrowish) direct roads last year and it was fine but am anticipating holding up a lot more holiday traffic if I did similar this year. How much more distance/time would the bike path take over the road route?
 
Great Glen and Loch Ness Sustrans cycle map currently at £2.99 (50%) for anoyone that might be interested.

I've been in the 'wanting to ride the Caledonian canal' frame of mind since before lockdown, and have just bought this map after seeing your link and post so thanks.

i don't usually plan too far ahead or in great detail but i think it may be worthwhile as i may be a little time compliant it may help
 
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