Cycling the Great Glen
An inspirational bike and barge adventure along Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal.
On three days days (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) the height gain is between 200m and 300m. On the other days the height gain is max. 150m. A good condtion is required.
An inspirational bike and barge adventure along Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal.
A variety of biking options will be offered on this 7day/ 6 night cruise. Each day our experienced guide will show you the best of the trails and rides around and beyond the Great Glen. We look for a mixture of trail, forest track, towpath and scenic road. We will venture into the famous Leanachan forest trails around Nevis Range, home to the Fort William World Cup. There will be the opportunity to cycle on the old Great Glen Cycle way which takes you high above Loch Ness offering some fantastic views.
Boarding between 1 and 2 pm. We welcome our guests on to the barge in Inverness. Here we introduce our friendly crew before the barge commences the ascent of the staircase of locks, marking the start of our adventure. The afternoon cycle ride then visits the sea lock at the eastern entrance to the Caledonian Canal, before following the towpath along the canal reach to Dochgarroch lock.
Terrain: no height gain.
Our tender will drop you ashore at a small inlet on the shores of Loch Dochfour. The cycle route follows the forest path past the spectacular Aldourie Castle, through Tor Point woods to the village of Dores on the shores of Loch Ness. The shingle beach by The Dores Inn provides a spectacular location for refreshments whilst admiring the view down the length of Loch Ness. The route then follows a back road along the shore of Loch Ness to Inverfarigaig. From here the route heads uphill along good forest roads, with occasional views over Loch Ness, before reaching Upper Foyers with its shop and café with a short walk on offer to a spectacular gorge and waterfall. The route down to Lower Foyers is a welcome downhill to the shore of Loch Ness where we find our barge waiting at the pier.
Terrain: approx. 240m height gain
We start the day with a steep climb to Upper Foyers to re-join the South Loch Ness Trail. This takes us along a combination of back roads and purpose made cycle trails via the picturesque Loch Tarff. The fun descent to Fort Augustus offers some wonderful views of the village and Loch Ness below. For an easy-going morning alternative, you can stay aboard the barge and enjoy cruising along the spectacular wild quarter of Loch Ness. We are reunited for lunch on the barge in Fort Augustus. The village is centred on a staircase of 5 canal locks which raise the canal high above Loch Ness. This is the main habitation on our route and there are a variety of cafes, shops and visitor centres as well as an interesting museum describing the life of the 17th Century Highlander. In the afternoon we cycle along forest trails above Fort Augustus. Spectacular views down Loch Ness are a welcome reward for the climb, followed by some easy trails near the river Oich. We then return to the barge which stays in Fort Augustus overnight.
In the morning we cruise along the middle section of the canal and through the first half of the beautiful Loch Oich. We go ashore from the anchorage by tender and start our cycle, by the elegant Glengarry Castle Hotel, following the River Garry. At the village of Invergarry, we set off along the road to Skye for a few miles before heading off on the start of the longest no-through road in the UK. We leave that road to cross the narrows of Loch Garry on a bridge, then head onto a fairly remote forest trail climbing steadily uphill before an exciting descent takes us down to the River Garry and then back to the shores of Loch Oich.
Back on board the barge at the end of the day, we spend the night at our beautiful anchorage overlooked by Old Invergarry Castle.
Terrain: approx. 200m gain.
After breakfast, we weigh anchor and cruise along the remaining half of Loch Oich and on through Laggan Avenue, the tree lined section of canal that cuts across the watershed of the Great Glen.
We disembark at Laggan Locks to cycle the forest trail along Loch Lochy. Here we proceed into the mountainous landscape of historic Lochaber with views of the largest of Scotland’s mountains. The trail takes a moderate undulating route to Clunes, the start of the Dark Mile, an amazing road with trees and walls adorned with a rich carpet of mosses and lichens. We then pass the stunning Cia-aig Falls which featured in the film ‘Rob Roy’. After crossing the bridge at the foot of Loch Arkaig and stopping to enjoy the views stretching out to the west, we head through the Achnacarry Estate, home of Cameron of Lochiel. Here the Clan Cameron Museum makes an interesting stop, offering information about the history of the area and a chance to buy a well-deserved ice cream. The last leg of the day takes us along The Great Glen Way to meet the barge at Gairlochy, a quiet hamlet at the south west of Loch Lochy.
Terrain: approx. 150m gain
From Gairlochy, we cycle up past the impressive Commando Memorial to the village of Spean Bridge. We then head off onto forest tracks through the spectacular scenery of The Nevis Range, our local ski centre and home to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Here you can take the optional ride up the gondola to 650m, for spectacular views and a high level café stop. Later we take the cycle track towards Fort William passing the local Distillery before returning to Banavie for our last night aboard the barge.
Terrain: approx. 300m height gain
For our final morning we cycle the towpath and explore the local features of the dramatic Caledonian Canal. We will see one of the aqueducts that carries the canal over the tributary rivers to the River Lochy and visit Corpach where the canal meets the sea. We then cycle back to reach journeys end at the top of the spectacular flight of eight canal locks, known as Neptune’s Staircase. A fitting end to an inspirational adventure. The tour ends at 11 AM.
Terrain: approx. 30m height gain
Our carefully selected routes offer wonderful cycling options amongst the beautiful hills and glens along and near to the Caledonian Canal. The average daily distance is around 20 kilometers.
Prices are per person 2023
Reservation costs € 20,- per booking
Contribution Dutch Guarantee Fund € 5,- per person (Insolvency Protection)
Twin ensuite cabin: € 1.525,-
Return minibus to the start point € 50,- per person
We’ll be ready to welcome you aboard between 2.00 and 2.15 pm on the start date of your cruise. Please try not to arrive before 2pm – our ‘turnaround’ time is short and busy and we may not be available to give you the welcome we’d like to.
The rail journey to Inverness is via Edinburgh and passes through interesting and dramatic scenery as well as going over the famous Forth Bridge. The railway station is in Inverness city centre about a mile from Muirtown Basin where the barge will be moored. Taxis can be taken from outside the station.
By bus / coach
There is a coach service from Edinburgh to Inverness. The bus station is near to the train station in Inverness town centre, about a mile from Muirtown Basin where the barge will be moored. Taxis can be taken from the bus station.
There are airports at Glasgow and Edinburgh but the nearest is Inverness Airport about 12 miles out of town off the A96 Nairn road. See our ‘Useful Contacts’ sheet for relevant airlines. Take a taxi from the airport or a bus into town followed by a taxi to Muirtown Basin where the barge will be moored.
We finish our cruise at Banavie, near Fort William at the specified finishing date and time. For those who have booked our minibus ( € 40,- per person) it will collect you from here and return you to the start point. This will take approx. 2 hours.
On this tour the following barges are scheduled
The barge Ros Crana sails is Scotland with as operating area: The Great Glen including the Caledonian Canal, Loch Linnhe from Corran Narrows to Loch Eil, Beauly Firth and Moray Firth to Chanonry Point. Read more...
The barge Fingal of Caledonia sails is Scotland with as operating area: The Great Glen including the Caledonian Canal, Loch Linnhe from Corran Narrows to Loch Eil, Beauly Firth and Moray Firth to Chanonry Point. Read more...
By this tour the following bike is included.
This mountabike is included by the tour. Don't forget to send us your height to select the correct frame size.
Imagine a floating hotel sailing to the next stage, while you are calmly pedalling along. No lugging of luggage: that is exactly what Bike & Barge is all about! In the pleasant atmosphere on board you can have a chat, go through the day with the others, and enjoy the meals prepared specially for cyclists. In the evenings you can enjoy a drink in the salon or admire the setting sun on deck. Do not expect a cruise ship with its passive luxury. The Bike & Barge Holidays are for people who really enjoy the physical activity of cycling and who value sociability more than wholesale luxury.
The skipper, mate and the chef all welcome you warmly. They are prepared specifically for these trips and will provide good and safe passage, good meals, and a friendly, pleasant atmosphere. They will, of course, also give you a great deal of interesting information during and after the cycling and sailing. The skipper is responsible for the smooth running of things on board; the cook is in charge of the catering. A tour leader accompanies you during the bike ride and can assist in case of breakdowns. He/She will be your guide to point out the things of interest along the way.
Your chef is used to cook delicious meals for hungry cyclists. Besides an extensive breakfast, you will also be offered a packed lunch for on the road. It consists of different types of bread and sandwich fillings, juice, a snack and a piece of fruit. Lunch package needs to be prepared by yourself after breakfast. Dinner is different every day. There is a first course, main course and dessert The meals on board are included in the price, as are coffee and tea. Soft drinks and alcoholic drinks can be obtained at a reasonable charge. When you return on board after the day’s cycling, a cup of tea or coffee with a biscuit will be waiting for you.
If you have special meal requirements we ask you to mention this when booking, but at the latest until 14 days before arrival. Diets which need a special preparation or special ingredients can only be offered in limited form. We will do our best to meet your needs, but we also ask for your understanding as due to limited logistic possibilities on a barge we are not able to prepare complete specialized menus.
One of the most attractive aspects of the Bike & Barge holidays is that you encounter an international company on board. We have people of all ages, solo travelers, couples and also families.
Most of the participants then wear rainwear. When the weather is so bad that cycling becomes really impossible (and that is almost never the case!), The guide organizes an alternative program with, for example, cultural excursions and city tours.
No, the barge doesn’t take the same route that the cyclists do. Sometimes the route may be altered because of weather conditions or repairs to bridges or locks and then the guests and the guide can arrange with the skipper to be met at a different place. Naturally you can always stay on board for one or more days.
Specialised cycle clothing may be handy but not strictly necessary. What you do need (among other things) is the following:
• shorts/ long trousers/ track suit/ legging
• shirts/ sweater/ rain clothing
• gloves (in case you travel in April or October. It can be chilly in the morning)
• good solid shoes/ sneakers
• sunglasses/ cap/ swimming costume
• personal care and beauty items
• hair dryer (220V; available on the barges Zwaan, Sailing Home and Provence)
• insect repellent
Your travel documents include the final packing list we suggest for your booked tour.