Find your ideal cycling holiday
Scotland - North West & Orkney
8th May 2019 - 18th May 2019 (11 days)
Starting in Inverness, this tour travels round the north west of Scotland from Ullapool to Durness then across to Thurso before taking a ferry to Orkney. Take in the Standing Stones of Stenness, Ring of Brodgar and prehistoric village of Skara Brae. There are fantastic views throughout the tour, often looking from the mainland to the islands, and there are countless beautiful beaches.
- Holiday Type Guided
- Tour Manager Martin Jamieson
- Grade Challenging
- Booking Status Places Available
- Accommodation Hotel & Guesthouse
- Board Basis Some Meals
- Travel Arrangements Land Only
- Road / Off Road Road
- Holiday Style Multi-centre
- Vehicle Support Carry Own Luggage
- Holiday Ref 01907
Wednesday 8th May
Meet in Inverness early evening for evening meal (included). Stay 1 night.
Thursday 9th May
Cycle from Inverness to Ullapool and visit the Ullapool book festival. Option of a minibus bike transfer from Marybank to Ullapool. 56mi (2,904ft total ascent). Evening meal included. Stay 1 night.
Friday 10th May
Cycle up the coast to Lochinver. Views of the appropriately named Stac Pollaidh and, later in the day, Suilven. 43mi (3,579ft) total ascent. Stay 1 night.
Saturday 11th May
Cycle to Kinlochbervie, up the coast and taking scenic B869. The steep ascents (up to 25%) making this a challenging ride. 53mi (6,358ft total ascent). Shorter, less hilly, self-led alternative along the shore of Loch Assynt. 42mi (4,124ft total ascent). Evening meal included. Stay 1 night.
Sunday 12th May
Cycle to Tongue via Durness. In Durness take turn for Balnakeil Craft Village for coffee and chocolate, then continue to view the beach at Faraid Head. Return via the Smoo Caves. 49 mi (3,737ft total ascent). Evening meal included. Stay 1 night.
Monday 13th May
Cycle to Thurso. 43mi (3,488ft total ascent). Option of continuing out to the beach at Dunnet Bay. Stay 1 night.
Tuesday 14th May
Ferry to Orkney, arriving in Stromness. Short ride to view the 2,700BC chambered tomb at Maeshowe. Stay 2 nights.
Wednesday 15th May
Cycle around Stenness Loch, visiting the Standing Stones of Stenness, Ring of Brodgar, the prehistoric village of Skara Brae and the rock stack at Yesnaby. 23mi (978ft total ascent).
Thursday 16th May
Ferry to Hoy, back to ‘mainland’ and on to Kirkwall. 19mi (1,394ft total ascent) on Hoy. 10mi (560ft total ascent) to Kirkwall. Stay 2 nights.
Friday 17th May
Final day on Orkney, cycling to Cuween Hill then Broch of Gurness. Café at Evie; option of continuing to Birsay. 40 mi (2,160ft total ascent). Evening meal included. Overnight ferry to Aberdeen.
Saturday 18th May
Arrive in Aberdeen where tour ends.
Accommodation & Meals
Accommodation will be mainly in hotels and inns - eight in hotels/inns, one night in a B&B and one in a cabin on the ferry, based on sharing in twin rooms unless a booking is made for two people and a double is requested. All breakfasts are included and five evening meals. Participants will be responsible for all other meals.
Anyone booking by themselves will normally be expected to share a twin bedded room, usually with someone they have never shared with before. Occasionally this can cause a problem as people have different sleeping habits. If you feel you are likely to disturb others or if you are easily woken, please indicate this under special requests on the booking form. The Tour Manager will then do their best to pair you with someone similar, although this cannot be guaranteed.
Obtaining travel insurance is optional for UK residents as your Cycling UK membership provides third party cover. However, this does not cover any other risks such as cancellation charges, personal injury or lost property. We therefore strongly recommend that suitable insurance is taken out to safeguard against such risks. Members who do not reside in the UK are not covered for third party and are advised to obtain suitable cover before leaving their normal residence. If you already have an annual policy, you may need to confirm that it will cover a UK holiday or make provision for it to do so.
The price of £1,170 is based on a minimum number of 8 people taking part in the holiday. If there are insufficient bookings by 27th February 2019, we will contact you and return all monies paid, although in certain circumstances the holiday may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.
- 5 nights hotel/B&B, sharing room, half-board
- 4 nights hotel/B&B, sharing room, bed & breakfast
- 1 night ferry cabin, two sharing, breakfast included
- Ferry tickets to/from Orkney Mainland and also Hoy
- Entry fees to Maeshowe, Skara Brae and Broch of Gurness
- Smoo Caves tour, subject to availability
- Optional minibus and bike transfer from Marybank to Ullapool
- Luggage transfers for two panniers
- CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs
Price Does Not Include
- Travel to the start of the tour
- Evening meals on 5 nights
- Drinks with included evening meals
- Lunches or refreshments during the day
- Entry fees at any attractions other than those specified above
- Any other personal expenses
- Travel Insurance (optional)
A deposit of £200 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £970 per person to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 27th February 2019.
Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:
Written notice received:
Before 27th February 2019
From 27th February 2019 through to departure
The Area Covered By The Holiday
Meeting in Inverness for dinner on the first night, we depart in the morning for Ullapool. At Marybank there is an option to avoid this busy section of road by taking a mini-bus / cycle taxi for the last half of the journey to Ullapool. The first few days are very scenic but quite hilly, so the distances have been kept low. On Orkney we have two nights in Stromness and two more nights in Kirkwall. This will enable us to visit several of the historic sites and also Hoy. The tour ends with an overnight ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen.
Rides & Rest Days
Most of each day will be spent cycling as we travel north and then west to Thurso. There are many opportunities to stop and admire the view. It is your holiday, so if you want to do your own thing and push ahead and do more, or take your time and spend longer en-route, then just let the Tour Manager. Inevitably, parts of this route are very hilly, so you do need to be fit to get the most out of this tour it is essential to get out on your bike and do some 50-mile hilly rides before the tour starts. Many of the roads are rural single-track roads. Though we will need to use some A-class roads, these are usually less-travelled than a typical B-road on the mainland.
Please note it may not always be possible to follow the itinerary exactly; things do not always go as planned. In these circumstances, we will make alternative arrangements.
Accommodation & Meals
There is a limited range of accommodation, so we will be using a variety of sizes and standards of hotels and inns, all with breakfast, and possibly one night in a B&B for some. Dinner is included on five of the nights.
This tour involves ferries to and from Orkney Mainland and also Hoy. The tour price is set on the assumption that all ferries will operate as scheduled, or within a reasonable time of schedule. If a ferry is cancelled, it could impact on the logistics of the tour. In this instance the Tour Manager will do his best to resolve the situation but may have to ask participants for a supplement to cover the cost of alternative additional accommodation. On the return overnight ferry to Aberdeen you will share a cabin.
The maximum group size will be 18 excluding the Tour Manager(s).
Weather & Clothing
Be prepared for a heatwave and pack sunscreen and waterproofs. Expect to use both.
Cycles & Equipment
A lightweight hybrid bike or touring cycle with low gears (e.g. a small chain ring the same size or smaller than the largest cog on your rear wheel) is recommended. Your bike must be in good working order, especially the brakes; spare brake pads must be carried. Lights should not be needed, but it may be an idea to bring them in case we ride out in the evening, and mudguards should be fitted or you may be unpopular with other riders.
You should have ridden your cycle before the tour with a similar amount of luggage to what you intend to come on the tour with to ensure you are happy with its handling. You are expected to carry tools and spares to deal with punctures and minor repairs, including two new inner tubes. There is very very limited access to bike shops on route, so if you forget something, then buy it in Inverness or be prepared to do without.
It is hoped to be able to provide luggage transfer for two panniers per person so as to allow for unladen riding, but you must be able to cycle with your bags if need be.
Maps & Guides
Simple maps and route plans will be provided, but you should bring more detailed maps too. An electronic route map will also be provided, but if you do not use technology, then a few pages from a car road atlas would be fine (even as a backup in case of low batteries).
Travel Insurance & Advice
Obtaining travel insurance is optional for UK residents as your CTC membership provides third party cover. However, this does not cover any other risks such as cancellation charges, personal injury or lost property. We therefore strongly recommend that suitable insurance is taken to safeguard against such risks. Members who do not reside in the UK are not covered for third party and are advised to obtain suitable cover before leaving their normal residence.
If you already have an annual policy, you may need to confirm that it will cover a UK holiday or make provision for it to do so.