Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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About to Catch the Ferry on our Island Hopscotch
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Highlights

  • Cycling deserted roads on the wild west coast of Islay
  • A glut of world class distilleries for whisky lovers to enjoy
  • Feeling like a kid again as you hop on and off local ferries
  • The romantic landscape of the Scottish Islands
  • Tucking into great local food and drink at drink at the end of your cycle

Rich peaty whiskies, rugged coasts, prolific wildlife and romantic island hideaways. Discover the Scotland of your dreams on an island hopping cycling holiday on the Islands of Arran, Islay and Jura.

Embarking on the ferry to Arran marks the beginning of your Scottish Island adventure. Well known for its stunning scenery Arran is often referred to as Scotland in miniature because it packs such a punch. Arran has it all: jagged mountain peaks, rolling hills, quiet coves, soaring sea eagles, local crafts, breweries and ruined castles.

From Arran you catch the ferry to Kintyre and then after a short pedal across the peninsula to the Isle of Islay. Your base for the next five days. Small whitewashed villages, peaty whiskies, vast empty beaches and rugged coastal scenery make the Isle of Islay a very special place. Home to eight world renowned distilleries Islay is a whisky lover's paradise and as you can imagine the pubs aren’t half bad either.

Port Askaig, your arrival point on Islay, is the jumping off point for Jura. A remote and wild island where red deer outnumber people by 25 to 1. Spend a day meeting the people and drinking in the unique atmosphere before heading south to Port Charlotte.

Port Charlotte is the gateway to the wild Atlantic Coast of Islay. Huge cliffs pierced by golden sandy beaches are the perfect habitat for millions of breeding birds and birdwatchers will be in their element.
The pretty Port Ellen is your final stop on Islay and the hopping off point for a magical day of cycling and whisky on the island’s beautiful south coast.

This 8 day self-guided cycling tour includes 7 nights in hand-picked B&B’s, small hotels, country inns and guesthouses, a hearty daily breakfast, baggage transfers, and a comprehensive map and information pack. Bike hire is also available and on this particular tour it is recommended that mountain bikes are used due to the very uneven terrain.

Day 1: Arrive in Brodick and overnight.

Ardrossan is the departure point for the Arran ferry. It is easily reached from Glasgow by train (50 minutes) and has secure parking. You will collect rental bikes from here if required and then jump on the one hour ferry to Arran to begin your adventure.


Overnight: Brodick—3* Guesthouse


Goatfell dominates Brodick Bay and the town of Brodick stretches along the sea front. After depositing your bags and bike at your accommodation you should have time to visit Brodick Castle, Arran Aromatics, or one of the many other attractions in this busy little town.


Day 2: Cycling on the Isle of Arran


Cycling on the Isle of Arran is a delight. Often described as Scotland in miniature it is just packed full of things to see and do as you pedal the quiet coastal roads which ring the island. You have a choice of routes ranging from 14 to 42 miles. Machrie standing stones are just my absolute favourite place on Arran so don’t miss them.


Overnight: Lochranza - 3* Guesthouse



The ruins of Lochranza Castle dominate the narrow string of houses which make up the village of Lochranza. Red deer have right of way in this tranquil village and the local Distillery is one of the newest in Scotland.


Day 3: Cycling and Island Hopping to Port Askaig, Isle of Islay

The morning ferry from Lochranza takes you back to the mainland island of Kintyre and it is just a short five mile cycle over to Kennacraig for the 13:00 ferry to Port Askaig on Islay. I


would strongly recommend a diversion to the Seafood Cabin at Skipness Castle for an early lunch. You just can’t beat fresh locally caught seafood done simply.


Keep your camera handy on the two hour ferry to Port Askaig as the views are splendid and dolphins, whales and basking sharks are all regular visitors to the Sound of Jura and Islay.


Overnight: Port Askaig - 2* Small Hotel


The tiny settlement of Port Askaig is dominated by the white buildings of the port and Port Askaig Hotel. Once the ferry traffic has left it is a quiet and peaceful place.


Day 4: Cycling on The Isle of Jura


Jura is the wildest and most remote of Scotland’s inhabited islands. It has no direct ferry to the mainland its 200 inhabitants and vastly outnumbered by the island’s 5500 deer.
There is no getting lost on Jura, the island’s only road runs up the eastern side of the island and the maximum round trip is 62 miles. The 21 mile round trip to Craighouse Village and the Jura Distillery is a great day out.
Keen walkers may also wish to pack their boots as a climb of the Pap’s of Jura rewards with panoramic views and red deer sightings are all but guaranteed.


Overnight: Port Askaig—2* Small Hotel


Day 5: Wildlife & Whisky on Islay


A few white sandy bays pierce the steep cliffs of the Atlantic Coast of Islay. Relentlessly pounded by the Atlantic surf this wild coastline is a haven for bird and wildlife and exploring this countryside on quiet singletrack roads is enchanting. The choice of routes is endless and you can cycle for anything between 18 and 60 miles.


Overnight: Port Charlotte—4* Small Hotel



Port Charlotte is an attractive village and nearby Bruichladdich Distillery is a must for whisky connoisseurs.


Day 6: Port Charlotte to Port Ellen, Islay

Take the time to explore the Museum of Islay Life, the Islay Natural Heritage Information Centre and just stroll around this charming village before you head off to Bowmore.
Bowmore is the island capital and home to almost a 1000 people, the well known Bowmore Distillery and idyllically situated Round Church. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxed lunch before continuing to Port Ellen. (18—30 miles)


Overnight: Port Ellen - 4* B&B


Port Ellen is a delightful town which curves around the white sandy beaches of Leodamas Bay.


Day 7: Islay’s Whisky Coast

You are in for a real treat today! Islay’s southern coast is littered with islands, shipwrecks and three of the best distilleries in Scotland. Cycle west from Port Ellen for ten miles until you reach the golden sands of Aros Bay, the perfect spot for a picnic.
On your return you can visit Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Ardbeg Distilleries for a complete whisky experience.


Alternatively you may prefer to visit the Oa Peninsula to the South West of Port Ellen. This sometimes bleak landscape is nothing if not dramatic. Golden Eagles and corncrakes cab be seen at the RSPB reserve and the sea cliffs are home to Fulmars, Kittiwakes and razorbills in the summer. (6—20 Miles or more)


Overnight: Port Ellen - 4* B&B


Day 8: Island Hopscotch back to Ardrossan

An exciting Island Hopscotch via Kennacraig, Claonaig, Lochranza and Brodick brings you back to Ardrossan at about 18:00 where you can hand your rental bikes back and head home. (20 Miles)


Overnight: Not included

Accommodation

We search out accommodation of character so that you can enjoy a genuinely warm welcome and authentic Scottish experience. This tour includes a mix of small family run B&B’s and hotels as well as some charming island hotels. All offer a warm welcome to cyclists, have secure bike storage, offer traditional hospitality and delicious local food.


Solo Cyclists & Single Rooms

This independent cycling holiday isavailable to solo cyclists but there is a solo supplement payable to cover the additional baggage transfer costs as well as a single supplement to cover the additional accommodation costs for sole occupancy.


If you require single rooms in your party we will of course try to accommodate your request, subject to availability but it can be difficult to source over two single rooms in one B&B or guesthouse.


Accommodation Location

We always book accommodation within walking distance of local pubs, shops or restaurants or that offer evenig meals. We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in the itinerary, but because of limited availability we may have to accommodate you at an alternative location. Alternative details will be noted on your accommodation sheet.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively your info pack includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have details.


Baggage Transfer

Baggage Transfer
When you are cycling between accommodation your main bag will be moved by our local crew. You will have to take your own bag on and off ferries and from your accommodation to the ferry terminal. With this in mind I would suggest you limit your bag to 15kg and personal experience suggest a backpack or pull along is the best option.



Additional Nights:

If you have a long way to travel after the trip I would recommend an extra night in Brodick or Troon on day 8. Port Charlotte is another great spot for an extra night so that you have more time to enjoy the West Coast of Islay.


Fewer Nights:

We are happy to tailor this cycling holiday to suit you so if you wish to reduce the number of cycling days or overall lengh of the holiday just let us know and we will put together a custom itinerary.

Availability

The holiday is available in the months March to October and you can start your holiday on any date in the season.


Time of Year

This holiday is available from late March to late October. Spring and Autumn can be colder. May, June, July and August are the best time of year for this holiday.


Additional Nights

If you have a long way to travel after the trip I would recommend an extra night in Brodick or Troon on day 8. Port Charlotte is another great spot for an extra night so that you have more time to enjoy the West Coast of Islay.


Fewer Nights

We are happy to tailor this cycling holiday to suit you so if you wish to reduce the number of cycling days or overall lengh of the holiday just let us know and we will put together a custom itinerary.


Solo Cyclists & Single Rooms

This independent cycling holiday isavailable to solo cyclists but there is a solo supplement payable to cover the additional baggage transfer costs as well as a single supplement to cover the additional accommodation costs for sole occupancy.


If you require single rooms in your party we will of course try to accommodate your request, subject to availability but it can be difficult to source over two single rooms in one B&B or guesthouse.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively your info pack includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have details.


Baggage Transfer

Baggage Transfer When you are cycling between accommodation your main bag will be moved by our local crew. You will have to take your own bag on and off ferries and from your accommodation to the ferry terminal. With this in mind I would suggest you limit your bag to 15kg and personal experience suggest a backpack or pull along is the best option.


Bikes & Equipment

On this tour it is recommended that you bring or hire a mountain bike. As the terrain is very uneven using either a hybrid or road bike is not advised. Although the whole route is on tarmac a mountain bike is still the best option. You will need a helmet, cycling clothes, waterproofs and warm clothes as well as casual clothes for the evenings. Your info pack will have a detailed equipment list.


Bike Hire

We offer bike hire for this holiday and you can collect and drop off your bikes at your accommodation in Arran. We use excellent quality mountain bikes equipped with a rear pannier rack, repair kit, pump and lock.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

This trip is not way marked however you will be supplied with route notes and detailled maps so you should have no problem following the route each day.


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate as you have various choices of route ranging from 20 - 62 miles. You should have a good level of fitness as there are several ascents / descents along the way.


General Information

The distances and ascent / descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailled equipment list which includes standard cycling gear such as warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


Getting to/from Ardrossan

Ardrossan is 32 miles south west of Glasgow and 18 miles north of Prestwick Airport. From Glasgow trains (50 minutes) and buses (1h15) run regularly.


From Prestwick a taxi is the best option and takes about 20 minutes. For detailed public transport information see www.travelinescotland.com


Ferries

All your ferry crossings (apart from Jura) are included in the cost of your holiday. These are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne and you can find full details of services and timetables here: www.calmac.co.uk

Getting to/from Ardrossan

Ardrossan is 32 miles south west of Glasgow and 18 miles north of Prestwick Airport. From Glasgow trains (50 minutes) and buses (1h15) run regularly.


From Prestwick a taxi is the best option and takes about 20 minutes.
For detailed public transport information see www.travelinescotland.com


Ferries

All your ferry crossings (apart from Jura) are included in the cost of your holiday. These are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne and you can find full details of services and timetables here: www.calmac.co.uk


Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend taking out travel insurance to cover cancellation or curtailment of your holiday.

Included

  • Seven nights bed and breakfast accommodation in handpicked 3 or 4 star B&B’s, guesthouses and small hotels in ensuite rooms.
  • Baggage transfer as required
  • All ferry crossings apart from Jura Ferry.
  • A detailed info pack, route notes and map for the group leader.
  • Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of a problem.

Excluded

  • Travel to or from Ardrossan.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • Travel Insurance. Personal Equipment.
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage.

Extras

  • Solo traveller supplement
  • Single room supplement
  • Bike Hire
  • Extra Nights
  • Accommodation upgrades

Frequently Asked Questions

We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more advice from our cycling experts.

How fit do I need to be?

Although the average daily distances are not that long there are a couple of longer days and the roads have plenty of up and down so this holiday is better suited to regular cyclists with a reasonable level of futness. 

How busy are the roads?

The beauty of cycling on the islands is that the roads are generally very quiet.Often there will be a rush of traffic when the ferry docks but generally the cycling is relaxed and traffic light.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the islands are extremely popular over the summer months. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need a helmet, normal cycling clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers and some warmer cycling clothes, a full detailed kit list will be included in your info pack.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally April/May and September have always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better and the midges are not as fierce. Although having cycled in the western isles at all times between March and November I think it always offers a wonderful experience as long as you are properly equipped and clothed. 

What are the midges like?

Midges are small biting insects (much like north American knats) which are prevalent in the summer months. They are particularly bad on still, overcast days but do not bother you if you are moving, the wind is blowing, sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside so as long as you carry repellent for the odd occasion you may need it they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.

What happens if I can’t cycle a stage?

We use local taxis to transfer your baggage and they can normally move you, your bike and baggage to the next stop in case of emergency. Local buses can also sometimes take bikes.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
macs adventureScottish Island Hopscotch
 
4.3

(based on 15 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (8)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well organised (12)
  • Fun (11)
  • Great accommodations (9)
  • Once in a lifetime experience (7)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Holiday (12)
  • Trying something new (9)
  • Relaxation (4)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Occasional traveller (8), World traveller (5)

Reviewed by 15 customers

Displaying reviews 1-10

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5.0

Nature. Ferry. Water and Whisky.

By Ivar Jensen

from Verdal .Norway

About Me Holliday traveller.

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • All kinds of weather in one day.
  • Great outdoor experience.
  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
  • The ferry rides
  • Whisky destilleries.

Cons

  • Ferries not always on time

Best Uses

  • Holiday
  • Trying Something New

Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

This is my sixt time i am using Macs Adventure for a holliday. 5 on cycle and one hiking , and each travlleing have been a great expirience . The ferry rides to the island of Arran is great with the hills rising up on the island in front of you . Both Brodick and Lochranza. are small and quiet places .The weather was superb on the cycling day . so we decided to go over the hill to Machrie bay , and follow the shoreline to Lochranza . Not recomended on a windy day. Dont miss the deer in Lochranza. We saw them around the castle and on the golf course. The cycle ride over Kintyre peninsula is a much harder climb then it look on the map. The ferry rides to Islay is pure joy. Port Askaig is a very small place and a very old and "picturesque" hotel. We skip the Jura day and spend two nights in Port Charlotte . A beautiful hotel. We have a taste for whisky so we went to Caol Ila , Bunnahabain , Bruichladdich and Kilchoman , before we cylcle to Port Ellen via Bowmore. I recomend a detour to Machir bay to witness the force of the ocean . Remember when you are staying in Port Ellen is only 2 operating reastaurant there at the moment. I will higly recomend a trip to Kildaton cross an Claggain bay. At the kildaton cross was a self service coffe and chocolate cake box , with cup and everything. That made our day ( thanks for the trust in people). We had some issue with the breakdown on one ferry . But Macs Adventure was there for us ,and kept us update on the phone . Great service . I will return for an other adventure next year.

 
5.0

Wonderful experience - even without the weather!!

By Cooktowners

from Cooktown, Australia

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fun
  • fun - mostly despite the weather!
  • Great Accommodations
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday
    • Relaxation

    Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

    Very well organised, with excellent notes and suggestions of routes - thoroughly enjoyed, and so glad we added a few more days to the original itinerary. Weather was not good, but did not stop us from enjoying the landscapes, food, drink, people and ourselves! Highly recommend this to others - even saw some Golden Eagles!!

     
    5.0

    Wonderful Tour of Arran, Jura and Islay

    By A & G

    from Florida, USA

    About Me Recreational Cyclist, World Traveller

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Beautiful Scenery
    • Excellent Bikes
    • Fun
    • Great Accommodations
    • Well Organised

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Holiday
      • Trying Something New

      Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

      We LOVED this tour. My husband and I are both in our mid 50's and reasonably fit. While the tour was rated easy to moderate we found it leaned very heavily toward the moderate. Most of the terrain was rolling hills, some of them quite challenging (the String Road out of Brodick, the climb out of Kennacraig, the climb out of Lochranza). All accommodations were great. The people were extremely friendly and many times went out of there way to help us. Our luggage transfer worked seamlessly. The route information provided by Macs was accurate but we would have liked a bit more detail. The scenery was beautiful!!!!! Not to be missed is the loop to Portnahaven out of Port Charlotte. Spectacular! Our bikes were rented from the Arran Adventure Company in Brodick. They were Trek FX Series 7.0 hybrid bikes and were in excellent condition. Although we rode on paved roads many of them have a very rough surface and are not suitable for a road bike. They also provided us with a repair kit and panniers. The bikes had a water bottle cage and we brought our own water bottles as they were not supplied. We also each brought a 10L dry bag to use inside the panniers to keep our valuable items, etc. dry in the rain. We brought rain jackets and rain pants, both of which we used. Our tour was in June and the weather was a mix of sun, rain and lots of wind. As other reviewers have mentioned, the timeline on the final day returning to Brodick is very tight. The trip from Lochranza to Brodick to catch the final ferry is a race against time. The climb out of Lochranza is very long and steep and just that portion took us a good 40 minutes. We made the ferry, but just. The ferry tickets are good for a month from the date they're issued so if you miss the ferry there is another one later in the day. Also you could opt to spend a night in Brodick and take a morning ferry back to Ardrossan.

       
      4.0

      a very good holiday

      By tezza

      from Penrith sydney australia

      About Me Occasional Traveller

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Great Accommodations
      • Once in a Lifetime Experience

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Holiday

        Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

        very enjoyable ride. Only problem, last day ,ran out of time no rooms available in Broddick ,had to go to Glasgow arriving 11.30 pm. maybe an option of a extra nights accommodation on last day would be good.especially for international travelers.
        otherwise a great adventure .
        Terry. Bateup

         
        4.0

        A great trip around the islands

        By woody

        from Coventry

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Go at your own pace and distance.
        • Well Organised

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Trying Something New

          Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

          We were able to adapt the holiday to do the cycling we wanted and to include a little mountaineering. Great experience, loved the ferry rides.

           
          4.0

          Island Hopscotch a great cycling adventure!

          By The fearsome foursome

          from Colorado, USA

          About Me Occasional Traveller

          Pros

          • Beautiful Scenery
          • Fun
          • Good Directions
          • Great Accommodations
          • Well Organised

          Cons

          • Kintyre Should Be Rated
          • Strenuous
          • Trip Across Kintyre Hard

          Best Uses

          • Holiday

          Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

          1. Trip across Kintyre should be rated strenuous, with the extremely long uphill climb.

          2. At end of trip, it would be helpful if you could have Arran Adventures meet people at the ferry. It's the end of a longish day, and a long walk from AA to the ferry (or in our case, the Belvedere B&B).

          3. Just one error on Mac's part: when we were leaving Port Ellen on the ferry, the bus did NOT pick up our luggage until our B&B host called them. This could have made for major problems.

          4. But we had a great time! Especially enjoyed accommodations at Port Charlotte and Port Ellen.

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Great Fun!

          By Lancer30

          from Washignton, DC

          About Me Occasional Traveller

          Pros

          • Fun
          • Well Organised

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Holiday
            • Relaxation

            Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

            We had great fun on island hopscotch tour. The scenery was amazing and we loved catching the ferries from island to island. If you love whisky, you are in luck as there are 8-10 distilleries available along the route. Some of the previous comments were true for us, as well. We struggled a little with the hired bikes. We would have preferred hybrids over mountain bikes. The roads were good enough in all the places we went that a mountain bike wasn't necessary. Some of the accommodation is fairly basic, but everything was clean and comfortable. We had one mishap on our trip, when a part broke on one of our bikes. Macs Adventures handled it promptly and thoroughly, even going the extra mile to call the hotel for that night to make sure we would have a dinner reservation. This was our first cycling tour, but won't be our last.

            (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            I would do this cycling trip

            By Hugo

            from Canada

            About Me Occasional Traveller

            Pros

            • Confortable Accomodations
            • Fun
            • Visit Quiet Villages
            • Well Organised

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Relaxation
              • Trying Something New
              • With A Friend

              Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

              Great routes for biking

              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Our trip

              By Laura

              from canada

              About Me Occasional Traveller

              Pros

              • Fun

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Holiday

                Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

                We asked for a change and it was handled extremely well

                (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                3.0

                An interesting week!

                By Slowcoach Toni

                from Yorkshire

                About Me Occasional Traveller

                Pros

                • Great Accommodations
                • Well Organised

                Cons

                • Exhausting

                Best Uses

                • Trying Something New

                Comments about macs adventure Scottish Island Hopscotch:

                All the accomodation was good apart from B and B in Locranza which was rather dreary and cold.
                This holiday would have been so much more enjoyable in better weather but that's the risk you take in Scotland!
                Also I think that another night in Arran on the way back would have been more relaxed as we had a tough cycle uphill for several miles and against the wind to catch the ferry with minutes to spare. Also then had to drive a long way home.

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