I'm planning a few days riding in Scotland when lockdown allows. The only bit of the route I'm struggling with is Inverness to Strathcarron. It looks like there are three options: the national cycleway next to the A9 heading north, the A862, or the small road on the northern shore of the Beauly Firth.
I'll be carrying a bit of weight and looking for enjoyment over speed and distance (so ideally no fast A roads with HGVs roaring past). But I also don't want to waste hours of tiny single-track detours!
Any recommendations on the best route to choose?
If you're ok with a bit of off road I'd go up Strathconon and off road to Craig past Glenuaig Lodge.
North side of the Firth is nice - I go along there at least once a week. Cycle way adjacent to the A9 starts off as minor roads but ends up just being a pavement for the second half. Functional but dull.
Actually, ignore me. I thought I remembered the landy track going right through that glen but it doesn't.
Another one for the north side of the Beauly Firth - way nicer to ride than the south option (i.e the main road to Beauly). There are a few quiet options from Muir of Ord to Contin and from there you're probably best on the gravel road from Contin to Garve (on the east side of loch garve) to avoid the worst bit of the A832. From Garve to Achnasheen there's really only the main road option, but its not that bad and the road is so straight that traffic tends to give a wide berth. The option of going through from the road end of Strathconon is scenic and very quiet, but you'd need to be up for a good few km of pushing and ideally be on a gravel or mountain bike.
Another for the north side of the firth. There is quite often interesting driving on the south side. Sometimes get otters on the north side too.
Looks like north side it is - many thanks everyone!
The offroad route from Strathconon to Craig via Glenuaig Lodge would involve a lot singletrack . It's a great through route but less suited to touring.
If you are on a MTB another option from Strathconon (well worth cycling up this quiet glen) would be taking the hill track north from Milton. That takes you over a low col (300m) and down into Strath Bran where you pick up the A832. It's a much better track than the footpath suggested on the OS map and would allow you to miss out a fair bit of the rather boring A832 from Garve.
> If you're ok with a bit of off road I'd go up Strathconon and off road to Craig past Glenuaig Lodge.
Yep, I was going to suggest that. You could take the train to Beauty to limit time on major roads.
The 2020 version of that 1:25k map shows that as a track all the way to the A832. Bridges marked over Burns.
> Yep, I was going to suggest that. You could take the train to Beauty to limit time on major roads.
It's not the sort of thing most folk would be happy doing on a tourer I don't think, quite a bit of muddy singletrack although my memory is a bit vague.
It's many years since I rode that route and I had to have a a quick glance at my old OS 1:50k to remind myself. Glad the more recent sheets have upgraded the route.
> It's not the sort of thing most folk would be happy doing on a tourer I don't think, quite a bit of muddy singletrack although my memory is a bit vague.
Yes - unfortunately we will be on road bikes. Good to know for when we return on MTBs though!
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