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2015 is the perfect year to get back to nature with a cycle and sail holiday in the Scottish Highlands. The Highlands of Scotland is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful places in the world, with spectacular scenery and a laid back lifestyle that makes holidaying there a pure joy. When it comes to appreciating all that the Highlands has to offer, one of the best ways to get around is by bike and boat.

Scottish Highlands Cycling

Cycling Trails

In terms of cycling holidays, Scotland, and the Highlands in particular, has so much to offer. What most people want to see when cycling around is magnificent scenery and maybe the chance to see a creature or two along the route. The Scottish Highlands has all of this and more. There are many rural routes in Scotland and despite the fact that it is one of the least populated parts of Britain, there are a number of fantastic villages along the way. Below are a few of the popular cycle routes in the Highlands.

  • Aviemore Ring of Steel – The Aviemore Ring of Steel cycling route covers just over 115 miles and circles the Aviemore National Park. It is a tough ride with quite a bit of ascent. This exposed route is best suited to more experienced cyclists.
  • Cairngorm Century – The Cairngorm Century cycle route gives cyclists the chance to enjoy a 102-mile scenic trip through the Spey Valley. Again, this is a pretty difficult route, so more suited to advanced cyclists.
  • Fort William to Crianlarich – The Fort William to Crainlarich cycle route is less severe than other cycle routes in the Highlands but is still almost 50 miles from start to finish. The mainly downhill route offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
  • Black Isle South Circular – The Black Isle South Circular cycle route is almost twenty miles long, starting and ending in North Kessock. This route is ideal for cyclists of intermediate level.

Sailing in the Highlands

Another great way to see the sights in the Scottish Highlands is on a boat. There are numerous rivers and canals in this part of the world as well as opportunities to take boat trips as part of a holiday. There are more than 30,000 lochans and lochs as well as miles and miles of coastline in the Highlands, so boat trips are common.

Many people will choose to hire their boat to explore the wonders of this remote part of the world but, for those who do not know how to sail, there are many tour companies providing travellers with the opportunity to take a day trip on a caledonian canal cruiser or riverboat. The Caledonian Canal is one of the more popular choices when it comes to fantastic canal cruises and these day trips offer travellers the chance to see the Highlands from the comfort of a warm cabin with the benefit of full commentary of the surrounding areas.

Off the coast, there are even more opportunities to see the spectacular scenery that the Scottish Highlands are famed for. Whale-watching tours are also available during the year, and these are hugely popular with tourists.

Things to See

Wildlife

Besides the magnificent scenery, the Scottish Highlands are well known for some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Tourists are often on the lookout for the ‘Big 5’ – red deer, red squirrels, seals, otters, and golden eagles – when they visit the Highlands, but there are many other beautiful wildlife to see in this part of the world. In many of the wooded areas of the highlands, there are roe deer wandering about and those who are lucky may even see a Scottish wildcat or pine marten.

Golden eagles are top of most peoples’ lists when it comes to bird spotting in the Scottish Highlands, but Ospreys are also common in the area.

Those taking sea boat tours may get the chance to observe seals and even a dolphin or porpoise. It is even possible to see whales on special tours designed for this purpose.

Landscape

The Scottish Highlands has a diverse landscape, which includes mountains, glens and numerous lochs. Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the United Kingdom and is located close to Fort William. Lochaber Geopark is a fantastic place to see some spectacular rock formations, and along the coast are some of the most incredible beaches you will ever see.

Things to Do

Shopping

As well as cycling and sailing, there are many other things to keep people entertained in the Scottish Highlands. Some of the towns in the Highlands offer fantastic opportunities for shopping, with local crafts available for purchase as well as delicious food and drink from the surrounding areas.

One of the most frequent purchases is whisky and, of course, Scotland’s whisky is world famous. Speyside is the place to visit when it comes to whisky distillery tours.

Food and Drink

There are many pubs in the Highlands at which visitors can relax after a hard day of cycling and grab one of the many local beers or sample some delicious pub grub. Many of these establishments will have local musicians, or there may even be an opportunity to experience a traditional ceilidh.

Booking a Canal Cruise

For a cycle and sail holiday with a difference, the Scottish Highlands should be on the top of your list. Clyde Cruises offers fantastic opportunities for relaxing day cruises on a number of routes in Scotland. For those that want the chance to see some of the spectacular marine life off the coast of Aberdeen, the Dolphin Adventure Cruise is ideal. Alternatively, for the opportunity to see the Highlands in all its glory, a Caledonian Canal Cruise is the perfect choice.

All of our cruises offer excellent value for money and the chance to travel the Scottish water system in comfort.

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