There are few places on earth that can match the arresting beauty of the western and northern isles of Scotland. When you travel to the Scottish Isles, you will be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. These islands are waiting to be explored and the ferry network that criss crosses this amazing stretch of water can take you to some of the most stunning locations in Britain. You may be on the whisky trail, heading to the Isle of Islay, home to eight distilleries that produce some of the finest single malts in Scotland or you may be looking for some of the wildest landscapes in Britain that can be found on islands like Jura, home to golden eagles, stags and otters. Your adventure awaits you when you travel to the Scottish Isles by ferry.
How to have a great cycling holiday in Scotland via ferry
Cycling is a great way to explore Scotland’s beautiful West Coast islands and peninsulas. Sailing to 49 different destinations across the Scottish Isles, Discover Ferries member Caledonian MacBrayne offers the perfect way to uncover this hidden gem of the British coastline, with plenty of options to entertain families, professionals and novices alike.
Scotland’s National Cycle Network makes it easy to get around on quiet roads and traffic-free paths, and there are a range of routes available regardless of your age or ability. For the full experience, the Cyclists Welcome scheme recognises hotels and other establishments which go the extra mile to help your trip run smoothly. For more tips and advice, go to www.visitscotland.com
Travel to the highlands and islands to explore stunning views, with minimal traffic. Hop across to the island of Great Cumbrae, just off the Clyde Coast, for a gentle ten-mile route around the scenic coastline, where your quieter mode of travel will give you an advantage when it comes to spotting the polecats, kestrels and sea eagles that make the island their home. To find out more, visit www.calmac.co.uk/destinations/cumbrae
For those looking for a challenge, the 5 Ferries Cycle tour, which covers several routes in the Clyde and Argyll region, should fit the bill. This 65 mile or so round trip takes in some of the most scenic (and sometimes hilly) terrain across Arran, Bute and the local mainland. To find out more, visit www.calmac.co.uk/things-to-do/day-adventures
For more information and booking, visit www.calmac.co.uk or call 0800 066 5000.
Travelling with a bike attached to a vehicle
The majority of passengers taking ferry holidays with bikes simply strap them onto their cars, caravans, or motorhomes in racks or boxes. That means they can drive to any destination and cycle wherever they go on their holiday. The pricing of taking bikes on a vehicle is simple – passengers just need to include the additional height and length of the vehicle when making the ferry booking.
It’s worth remembering that rear mounted cycle racks can obscure rear lights and number plates so car owners may need a lighting board with number plate and electrical supply to ensure their car and bike racks are legally roadworthy.
How to take a bike on board a ferry as a foot passenger
It’s easy to take a bike on a ferry as a foot passenger and cycle off into the sunset from the port. Passengers travelling with bicycles generally check in at the same time as other foot passengers. They dismount from their bikes for safety reasons and push their bicycle up the same vehicle ramp as that used by cars. Stewards will be on board to instruct cyclists. Once onboard travellers will be shown where to park and secure their bicycle on the deck for the crossing. It may be attached to the floor, wall or a railing for the crossing.
Ferry company policies and charges
Caledonian MacBrayne accepts bicycles with foot passengers free of charge on its multiple routes to from Scotland’s West Coast to islands from Arran to North Uist. Passengers travelling to the terminal by train will need to check with www.scotrail.co.uk to check if they need to book their bikes onto the connecting train service. Visit www.calmac.co.uk for more information.
In addition to checking out the cycling sections of each ferry members’ website there is some great advice for cycling routes from cycling organisations such as Eurovelo – a European cycling network http://www.eurovelo.com/en, or www.Sustrans.org.uk for UK, Northern Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland.Tourist Information