Bicycling in Scotland is variable. The best months for cycling are May, June, and September, when the roads are often quieter and the weather is usually better. Winds are predominantly from the southwest, so plan your route accordingly.
Because Scotland's main roads are continually being upgraded, bicyclists can easily reach the network of quieter rural roads in southern and much of eastern Scotland, especially Grampian. Still, be careful getting from town centers to rural riding areas; if in doubt, ask a local. In a few areas of the Highlands, notably in northwestern Scotland, the rugged terrain and limited population have resulted in the lack of side roads, making it difficult—sometimes impossible—to plan a minor-road route in these areas.
Several agencies now promote "safe routes" for recreational cyclists. These routes are signposted, and agencies have produced maps or leaflets showing where they run. Perhaps best known is the Glasgow-Loch Lomond-Killin Cycleway, which uses former railway track beds, forest trails, quiet rural side roads, and some main roads. VisitScotland has advice on a site dedicated to cycling.
Although some rural bus services will transport cycles if space is available, don't count on getting your bike on a bus. Be sure to check well in advance with the appropriate bus company.
You can take bicycles on car and passenger ferries in Scotland, and it's not generally necessary to book in advance. Check cycles on car ferries early so that they can be loaded through the car entrance.
ScotRail strongly advises that you make a train reservation for you and your bike at least one month in advance. On several trains reservations are compulsory.
The Cyclists' Touring Club publishes a members' magazine, route maps, and guides. Sustrans Ltd. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing environmentally friendly routes for cyclists, notably in and around cities.
Bike Maps and Information
Cyclists' Touring Club (0844/736-8450. www.ctc.org.uk.)
Sustrans (0131/346-1384. www.sustrans.org.uk.)
ActiveScotland (0845/859-1006. active.visitscotland.com.)
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe