Hotels, back up and luggage transfer
Back by popular request I plan to rerun my tour
of the Outer Hebrides. This was fully booked for 2020 but has had to be
postponed to 2021 (dates to be confirmed). We now plan to stay two or more
nights on most islands, and the boat trip to St Kilda is again included. The
picture is of its main island of Hirta, which is surrounded by several stacks
and smaller islands.
Starting and finishing in Glasgow, this tour
takes us to the beautiful Trossachs, where we have several circular day trips.
Then we move on to Pitlochry in the centre of Scotland, just south of the
Cairngorm National Park, where again we have several circular day trips. The
tour finishes with two nights in the attractive city of Stirling.
This was planned and fully booked
for 2020, rescheduled for 2021, and due to cancellation of ferry bookings is
planned for 2022.
We will have 4 days on Orkney to visit some of the many
attractions that we did not get to in 2018, followed by a week touring Shetland
from end to end.
In the year prior to
the CTC AGM in Glasgow I'd had a fantastic solo tour of the Outer Hebrides, and
thought people attending might like to extend their trip following the same
route. This first tour was in 2014, and since then I've led another 5 tours in
different parts of western and northern Scotland. Before the Coronavirus struck
I had a further 3 planned for 2020. As well as leading tours I am also a bike
instructor and teach Bikeability to school children.
Diane is my partner, and
she has got roped into helping make the tours run smoothly. We were very lucky
to be able to go on Chris Ellison’s September 2020 Land’s End to John o’Groats
tour. It was actually Diane’s second LEJoG. This
involved more cycling per day than on my own tours, but was fantastic
nevertheless. Diane also helps lead the Glasgow Tandem Group
for visually impaired cyclists.
I provide digital
route maps, a tour booklet and suggested café and lunch stops. I encourage tour
members who cycle at similar speeds, or had shared interests in photography or
historic sites, to split into smaller groups. I try to ensure that no-one
cycles on their own unless it is from choice. We constantly meet up at cafes
and viewpoints. Most of my tours visit remote locations and the route is very
obvious, with only one road to choose from. Where that is not the case, then we
will regroup, and I will lead with Diane as the back marker. Together we also provided luggage transfers. One of
us will ride with the last riders on the road, while the other drives ahead
with the luggage, and then cycles back to re-join the group. In case of an
emergency our vehicle can take an extra passenger. This has proved invaluable
as most tours have had at least one day where this was required.
My routes tend to be
moderate and suitable for experienced cyclists with a good level of fitness.
The average speed over the course of the day will be between 11 and 13 mph
(18-22 kph). The distance per day will vary depending on how many places we are
visiting and how hilly the route is. Typically we stay two nights in each
place, alternating longer moving on days of 50 miles (possibly one or two
longer still) with a shorter sightseeing day where we start and finish at the
My routes use minor
roads and cycle paths, even if this includes lots of hills, in preference to a
flatter but busier main road. Only if there is no suitable alternative will my
route follow a busy main road. As my tours seek out quiet and remote places,
sometimes we have to make use of a main road as it's the only option, but these
tend to carry very little traffic, unlike other parts of the UK. On some days
we may cycle on just one road all day, with very few road junctions. My
tours normally start and end in a city, but I use cycle paths to escape
into the country and the rest of the tour is city free.
As far as possible I
aim to book hotels for the whole trip. However, in some places there is only
one hotel, and it can’t take everybody in the group. In such circumstances I
arrange a nearby B&B as 'overspill'. Typically people should expect to stay
in a hotel for 80 to 90% of the time. The quality of hotel depends on what is
available, but given a choice I book those of a middling quality for the best
available price. This is in order to try to keep the cost of the tour down. Rooms
are normally twins or doubles, and people share. Generally there are not enough
rooms in the small hotels in remote places, so I can’t offer single occupancy.
Together with my partner Diane I have
been running cycle tours since 2014. I favour the islands and the west coast of
Scotland because of the beautiful scenery, and quiet roads. The format has
evolved to plan moving-on holiday tours, typically with two night stays. This
allows a day trip to see the local area, rather than just pushing on to the
next destination. I see our tours more as holidays with bikes, combining
cycling with tourism. Diane and I both enjoy open water swimming, and encourage
the swimmers amongst you to join us for a dip in a loch or the sea.
We recce each tour, seeking out the
best routes and visitor attractions. Some tours include rides that we have done
many times. We use this knowledge to plan the best tour that we can for you. In
fact, when I first led club rides I delighted in finding good new routes to
share with others. I also welcome suggestions and recommendations. Indeed, one
recommendation of a route during my first tour has since been used time and
again, and the person who made it has also come on every one of my tours.
Accommodation is all in hotels, but
where there is a lack of availability then Guest Houses might be used. We also
provide luggage transfer, so that the cycling is easier and more enjoyable.
We have cycled part of
Tony Kilcoyne’s tour of the Black Country and completed Chris Ellison’s Land's
End to John o’Groats in 2020 (Diane first did it in 2012).
I have run cycle tours to all of the larger islands of the
west of Scotland, and the length of the west coast from Campbeltown to Durness,
across to Thurso and out to Orkney. The thing that my tours have in common is
cycling in rural areas, on quiet roads (often single track), and water (lochs
and sea water and often ferries). We will have short visits to beauty spots or
historical sites on some days, and cafe and lunch stops every day. Basically, I
want to help others enjoy the spectacular scenery of Scotland and have a great
My first tour leading a
small group up through the Outer Hebrides. I was still inexperienced at touring
and was carrying far too much stuff.
islands and west coast of Scotland are just packed full of beautiful beaches,
but only this one doubles as an airport.
This tour started from
Glasgow, using cycle paths to leave the city and escape into the country. The
picture is of a single track road with views to the Isle of Arran. A very
experienced tour leader (Brian Curtis) mentored me on this tour. We also
visited Isla, Jura, Mull, Iona and Skye. We stayed mainly in hotels, and used
hostels for a few nights. Customer feedback suggested using all hotels or all
I always had a desire to
visit St Kilda, so this time we added in an extra day for the trip out to what
seems like the most remote part of the UK. Poor Diane suffers badly from
seasickness, but had decided she would put up with it in order to get to St
was an exceptional tour, with great weather, and almost everyone on it has since
returned on subsequent tours.
to Tobermory (aka as part 1 of Martin’s trilogy of West of Scotland Tours)
time we visited Campbeltown, Gigha, Crinan, Isla and Mull. After the success of
the trip to St Kilda, I incorporated a day trip to the Treshnish Isles (where
we saw the comical puffins) and on to Staffa to see the magnificent Fingal’s
Cave. We finished in Tobermory on Mull, and made that the starting point for
the next tour. By now I had settled on running Scottish tours staying in
hotels, usually for 2 nights, and in remote places. I am now doing cycle
holiday tours rather than just cycle tours.
Ullapool to Thurso and on to Orkney
mainland part of this tour has been relabelled as the North Coast 500, since I
first cycled it. The picture is of Achmelvich beach. This is one of the most
remote and sparsely populated parts of Scotland with some tough coastal roads.
Tobermory to Ullapool
remote little gem is Castle Tioram on Loch Moidart.
became the second part of the trilogy, where we stayed the first night in
the same hotel on Mull, and then the next day set off on the ferry going north
onto Ardnamurchan. The highlight was riding one of the highest road climbs in
the UK, over the Bealach Na Ba to Applecross. Here we had a rest day and went