Exploring Scotland&'s Islands by Bike
When I was asked to do the Scottish Island Hopscotch cycling trip I was a little apprehensive as I had never done a cycling trip before. The limit of my cycling ability lies in cycling to and from work each day and that is often strenuous enough! I thought for my first cycling trip, what better place to start than the quiet hills of some of Scotland’s beautiful Islands.
There are many reasons why everyone should be interested in cycling our Scottish Island Hopscotch trip – the main reason being that cycling on these fine islands allows you to see so much of what each island has to offer. This trip is an ideal amount of time (8 days 7 nights), allowing you to explore the different aspects of what makes Scotland unique including islands, mountains, wildlife, beaches and whisky in a short amount of time.
The 3 islands you visit on this trip are all unique, each with something different to offer. Each day offers a choice of routes so you can choose how much cycling you’d like to do.
You start this trip with a short 1 hour ferry over to theIsle of Arran, a small island off the coast of Scotland. The Isle of Arran(also known as Scotland in miniature) has some beautiful scenery; it is home to the highest peak on the island, the mountain Goatfell which offers incredible views over Brodick, the Holy Isle and over towards the mainland.
It also has a fascinating history which can be learned about whilst exploring Machrie Moor Standing Stones, Brodick Castle and the ruins of Lochranza Castle. The historic Kings Cave on the west coast of the island is one of the places where Robert the Bruce is said to have his famous encounter with the spider. Wildlife can be spotted from many different points on the island including seals, otters, seabirds and deer. It’s also the perfect time to purchase well-known local products such as Arran cheese and Arran Aromatic products.
The second island you visit, Jura, is an untamed, rugged Southern Hebridean island. Jura offers remote cycling with only one road on the entire island – it has a small population of around 200 people so cycling on Jura does sometimes feel like you’re the only person on the island! The locals are incredibly friendly (there was a friendly local waving in every vehicle that passed!) and spectacular wildlife can be spotted regularly including seals, stags and eagles. There are also incredible views over to the Isle ofIslay which can be appreciated whilst cycling down the amazing downhills! Make sure to visit the well-known Jura distillery whilst your cycling throughCraighouse, the main village of the island.
Along with Jura, Islay is world famous for its Whisky! This small island is home to an impressive 8 whisky distilleries including the well-known Ardbeg and Lagavulin distilleries. There’s plenty of time to explore a number of these distilleries with many of them on your cycling route. You can pop in for a distillery tour and the whisky taster at the end is sure to help power you around this beautiful island. You’ll be able to understand and taste the unique differences with each distillery and by the end of it, you’ll be a whisky connoisseur!