Biking Scotland with Wilderness Scotland

I got interested in the bike trip across Scotland through Outside Magazine when an article mentioned the bike trip as a 2010 Trip of the Year.  So a couple years later I was able to book the trip and the adventure begins.

Arrive Edinburgh

Walkway above the Narrow Streets of Edinburgh, Scotland, photography Jim Caldwell Redondo BeachCity of Edinburgh

The day dawned crisp and bright, as the sun was actually shining, which is rare for Scotland. I met with the tour company, Wilderness Scotland, and then caravanned north to Aberdeen. We got situated with bikes and food and then hunted our way through town to hook up with the River Dee Trail. Good riding and nice weather throughout the day, as we follow an old railroad spur along River Dee. With in a couple hours of riding, we left the city and marveled at the beauty of the hills and open country. A long day in the saddle of a mountain bike was greeted by a quaint B&B Tigh na Geald in Aboyne. A good meal.

View of Edinburgh Castle during spring and cherry blossom season, photography by Jim CaldwellEdinburgh Castle

Day two: Heavy clouds have turned the previous great weather into a different set of emotions. The cold morning and misty condition, makes for a bleak start to the day, as I wonder if I’ll get to wear shorts to ride in again? The mist and cold makes for trying riding conditions, though we access the Cairngorms National Park and more open country. We ride through cold, gusty winds upward of 40 knots, as snow and hail falls. Eventually we get to the comforts of Moorfield House Hotel and were treated very well by the great owner.

South Pier Lighthouse, Aberdeen, Scotland, photograhy Jim Caldwell, photography ScotlandAberdeen

Scotland's Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, photography Great Britian, photography Scotland, biking Scotland, Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

Contructed in 1849, Scotland’s Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits at the most westerly point of Great Britian. Open to visitors April to Oct. Fom the lighthouse or the viewing platform by the fog horn, Ardnamuchan is great place to see the whales and dolphins.

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland's largest forest, Scotland's largest wildlife preserve, biking in Scotland, Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

Our Wilderness Scotland (Saddle Skedaddle) bike tour trip through Scotland transited one of Scotland’s most natural scenic places, Cairngorms National Park. The Park is home to Britain’s highest and largest mount range. With pristine lochs and rivers, Cairngorms has the Country’

Cairngorms National Park, Deeside Way, River Dee, Biking through Scotland, Vacation Scotland, Golf Scotland

The Deeside Way runs from Aberdeen on the east coast to Ballater in the east of the Cairngorms National Park. The Deeside Way provides an route linking up Dinnet and Ballater in the Royal Deeside area of the Cairngorms National Park.

Day three: more wind and heavy rain is in the forecast for the ride as we start out with solemn heads in anticipation of more inclement weather. We passed the large, exquisite Mar Lodge, and ride into the nastiest bike ride conditions, as we gain access into peat. As the rain soaks the Highlands and water saturates the peat, it becomes hellish to try to pedal and ride. And then walking and pushing a bike is not any better, as the bog sucks one’s feet in to the shins. Eventually we get through the nastiness and end up in Newtonmore at the Craigerne House Hotel, owned by Dougie and Joanna Jeffries. They go out of their way to make our stay absolutely fabulous. We ate a great meal at the Letterbox Restaurant.

Craigerne House Hotel, Newtonmore, Spey Valley, Monadhliath and Cairngorm mountains, Newtonmore Golf Club. Scotland, biking in Scotland, Scottish photography

Trek across Scotland by bike in Newtonmore in the Scottish Highlands, views from Craigerne House in Newtonmore. Wilderness Scotland (Saddle Skedaddle) Tours

Day four: the weather calls for more rain and inclement weather, as we start the ride with temperatures in the low 30’s. We ride until lunch with patches of sun poking through spats of rain throughout the morning, and stop for lunch in one of the ‘Bothies’ built about the Highlands for shelter from the weather, and it snows while we have lunch. After lunch we manage to ride into the hellish peat again and spend a couple hours traversing the lameness.  Eventually we pass a WWII Memorial in Inverness-shire and reach accommodations at The Old Pines Hotel that are very nice.

Spean Bridge Commando Memorial for the WW II jumpers, Scott Sutherland, Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

Just north of Spean Bridge, is the Commando Memorial for the WW II jumpers. The bronze monument crafted by Scott Sutherland and placed in 1952. Based at Achnacarry, British Commandos and United States Army Rangers were trained in the area around the village.

Day five: more of the same weather, as Scotland is definitely someplace you don’t go for good weather. So we continue our ride from east to west coast amid rain and cold following the Caledonia Canal to Fort William where we catch a small ferry across Loch Linnhe. Not many pictures were snapped on account of the dull, misty weather. We finish the day at the Ben View Hotel, in Stontian, with views of Ben Nevis, which we could not see through the clouds and rain.

Scottish public telephone, Highlands of Scotland, bicycling Scotland, Skedaddle Daddle tours, Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach photography, Scottish Photography

Red Scottish telephone in the Scottish Highlands.

Day six: more rain and cold greets us, as we pedal into the weather and what will be the last day of the cross country trek. We ride along Loch Sunart through Salen and Acharacle, where we encounter midges at lunch. We were ‘dining’ under the canopy strung between the caravan and bike trailer to keep the lunch food dry, as we were already soaked through, so the midges were quite annoying to say the least. We reach our destination in the rain at Ardnamurchan and view the lighthouse and celebrate the crossing of Scotland, and I think back upon the last two days and wonder what we saw, as the rain kept one’s view to the road and trail in front of the tire.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

Check out my excursion down to the southern coast of Ireland…

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Jim Caldwell
Redondo Beach

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About jw60sea

Jim Caldwell has over 26 years of experience in the public safety sector in occupations ranging from professional ski patrol, and ocean lifeguard to firefighter. Jim has worked for the Redondo Beach Fire Department for the last 22 years holding successively higher positions of responsibility. For the last six years, Jim has held the rank of Engineer with responsibility for driving and operating the Department’s Engines and Tillered Aerial Ladder Truck. Throughout his career, he has shown a dedication not only to public safety but also community service.
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