A Taste of Skye

We decided to load the bikes onto the camper and head out west to base ourselves in Reraig for a few days. This route could easily be achieved as a day trip from Moray and is worth the effort. We stayed at the Reraig Caravan Site which was a lovely quiet site, immaculately kept and just 3 miles from Kyle.

We opted for a ciruit that looked like pretty good value – and we weren’t disappointed.

glenelg ferryStarting from Reraig we took the A87 west to Kyle and then headed over the bridge to Skye. This was fabulous as the weather was clear and the views spectacular. Once on the island we followed the (only) road for around 2 miles until we reached a left junction signposted for  Kylerhea and the Glenelg Ferry. This is a long and steady uphill pull with some small rollercoaster sections. The last 2 miles are an ear-popping descent down winding single track roads and the first section is not for the faint-hearted!

We had a short wait for the ferry which runs every 20 mins or so (summer only) and cost £4 per bike. A beautiful ride over deposits you in Glenelg where we took a slight detour into the village in search of coffee. We were well fed and caffeinated at the Way Out West Cafe & Picturehouse and from there we set-off on the Old Military Road to Shiel Bridge. eilean donanThis was a lung-busting steady climb most of the way, but you are rewarded with a fantastic downhill for the last 3 miles or so. You may be tempted to fly down here, but we would recommend that you restrain yourself so that you can enjoy the views down to Loch Duich and across to the 5 Sisters.

Once over Shiel Bridge it’s back on the main road for a while, however we took a detour up to Carr Brae – another steep uphill but a spectacular reward at the top and worth the effort. The descent is fun and takes in views of Eilean Donan Castle along the way.

Just after Dornie we took another slight detour through Ardelve to avoid the busy main road. The it was back on the A87 and very soon we were home.

A thoroughly wonderful day out.

Approx 40 miles

Highland Bridge-hopping

As the sun finally came out and the forecast was dry, we decided to make a day of it and head out for a longer cycle. We started and finished in Nairn but the route can be adapted to start in Forres if you prefer.

From Nairn we took the Grantown Road to Ferness where we took the Carrbridge turning and continued along the rollercoaster-esque road passing Lochindorb. The hills are relentless, but the scenery is wonderful and definitely worth the effort. After all those hills we were ready for some breakfast, and this came in style at The Old Bakery, Carrbridge – A CTC accredited cafe where our water bottles were filled as soon as the waitress spotted them on the table.

On leaving Carrbridge, take the Inverness road where you will begin to follow Sustrans Route No. 7. This takes you to Slochd Summit [the highest point on the A9] and you will cycle on a mixture of quiet roads, cycle track and bits of the old A9, passing through Tomatin and Moy. Once more, the scenery is lovely and the hills are much gentler on the legs than those earlier on the route. At Daviot the route follows are more north easterly direction towards Culloden where we took a very slight [and well worthwhile] detour to Cantraybridge College to see a fine young fellow called Alex. This is a great place to stop and wander round the beautiful grounds where you can enjoy everything from coffee and cake to dancing parrots!

Once more refreshed we cycled the last dozen or so miles  passing through Cawdor on easy flats and downhills to Nairn. A marvellous route and a great day out.

Approx. 64 miles

Delay at Darcey’s: A Cawdor Circuit

Well, the weather improved – and then promptly plunged back into winter. So as it’s still chilly and wet, we thought a medium-length route was in order with a start and finish in Nairn.

From Nairn take the Grantown Road and then bear right at Househill along the Sustrans Cycle Route 1. You will continue to follow the Cycle route 1 signs and go through Raitloan, Regoul and Meikle Urchany. This is beautiful countryside so remember to slow down and take in the surroundings. At Little Urchany we dropped down to Cawdor where we stopped for some delicious coffee and cake at Darcey’s Tea Room. You may want to take the opportunity to have a tour around Cawdor Castle and gardens while you are there.

From there we went over to Clephanton where we took the B9091 back to Nairn.

Next month we hope to explore similar territory, but venture a good bit further on Cycle Route 1 to make it a 70-80 mile circuit. So if you’ve got the miles in your legs, watch this space……

Approx 25 miles

UPDATE: Apparently, Darcey’s Tea Room has closed since writing this, but there are alternatives just around the corner in the village.

A Pre-spring Circuit from Elgin

So the days are getting longer and the weather is trying to be kinder, and we thought that you might feel like turning your pedals a little longer as a result. This month we’re making Elgin our start and finish point, but you will see that it’s easy to amend this route to start and finish in Forres.

From Elgin town centre, take the A941 Rothes Road and follow this all the way to Aberlour. This can be a busy road, so perhaps best to choose your start time carefully. Once in Aberlour, you might like to stop at Fresh on Spey Bistro where you can enjoy anything from a coffee to a full lunch. If you’re feeling like something more substantial, then the Mash Tun serve excellent pub food. There are plenty of hills on the way home, so don’t feel too guilty!

Out of Aberlour, continue along the A941 for several miles until you see the road on your right signposted for Carron. This is a lovely winding, hilly road that will take you past the distillery and along the side of the Speyside Way. At the end of this road you will come to a T-junction. Take a left here and continue to Knockando.

At the end of the village take the right turn to Dallas [signposted Forres] and once in Dallas take a right and then another right at the T-junction at the end of the village. This road will take you through Kellas along the Pluscarden Road, and back to Elgin.

Total: Approx miles

Turning on the Lights in Lossiemouth

Apologies for neglecting this part of our website of late, but Bikespokes have been busy fixing bikes, building bikes and even rescuing the odd “damsel in distress”.

To start 2015 we have a lovely flat route that is great if you’re not in the mood for the hills, or at this time of year when you can take advantage of the milder coastal weather and avoid the ice.

From Forres High Street take the Rafford road and then turn left at Cathay and continue along this road until you hit the A96. Carefully cross this busy road and cycle along it for a very short distance until you can take the left turn signposted for Kinloss. Take the next right at Mains of Struthers and follow this until you come to a signpost for The Loft. You can stop here for a snack, or push-on to Lossiemouth.

Passing The Loft, continue to Milton Brodie where you take a right turn past Coltfield. Carry on along this straight until you meet the B9013 signposted for Burghead. Go straight across this junction and follow this road until you meet the B9012 where you turn left and after about 1 km turn right. From here you will pass Duffus Castle [ruins] on your right and Shempston House on your left. Continue on this road until you meet the B9135 which you will follow to Lossiemouth Harbour where you can enjoy refreshments [indoor or outdoor] at the Harbour Lights.

After a break here you can take the coast road back via Hopeman, Burghead and Kinloss.


Total: Approx 36 miles.

Mix & Match from Nairn

A mixed cycle route from Nairn to Forres to include some forest tracks through the Culbin Forest and the relatively quiet back road to Nairn.

This is a great route if you are just beginning to explore on your bike, or if you are feeling the need for a more relaxed ride. It’s best to arm yourself with a Culbin map so that you can follow the numbered signposts detailed here as the detail on our online map is limited. You can get these from tourist information or at any of the main Culbin car parks.

Starting from Nairn Harbour, take the trail along the front in an easterly diection. This will take you past the caravan site and onto the shore via the East Beach. You will soon pass The Ministers Pool and the RSPB Nature Reserve. Continue along this path as it enters the forest where it soon meets the No. 23 signpost. Continue west until you hit the No. 22 signpost and take a right here till you come to signpost No. 24 where you continue straight on heading for signpost No. 28. Try to ensure that you follow this middle route rather than the more northerly trail as it can be very wet and boggy and is best avoided. From here continue to head for Wellhill Carpark via whichever means you prefer, but a suggested route might be: 27, 32, 38, 39, 41 and 43 which takes you to Wellhill car park.

From the car park continue out towards Kintessack and take a left at the junction. Follow the road round to the Broom of Moy junction where you turn left and go over the River Findhorn via the Bailey Bridge. After the bridge go straight on and follow the path till you come out on a wider track. Turn right here and cycle under a small bridge where you will find yourself in the Greshop Industrial Estate. Turn right at Lidl and head for Mackenzie and Cruickshank Garden Centre where you can enjoy a light snack or a lovely lunch.

Once you are refreshed you can join the short section of cycle track along the River Findhorn and then onto the pathway that runs alongside the A96 – why the cycle path suddenly stops half way along is anyone’s guess! Cross over the Findhorn Bridge, turn right, then left, and shortly after turn right until you are close to the village of Dyke. Shortly before the village, take a right [at Mudhall Farm] and then around 3/4 of a mile later take a left. You are now on the Lochloy Road which you can follow all the way back to Nairn.

You could of course start and finish this route from Forres. If you do this, then you can enjoy your ‘benefit’ at the Basil Cafe.

Total: Approx 34 miles


Weave your way to Grantown

A great calorie-devouring cycle route to include some roller coaster hills with an optional pit-stop at Knockando Wool Mill.

Starting from Forres town centre, head out on St Leonards Road to Rafford, then on to Dallas via the B9010. Take a right just as you get into Dallas and follow the road through some lovely moorland scenery till you reach Knockando.

We would highly recommend taking a left in the village for coffee and cake at Knockando Wool Mill which has been recently renovated to include a shop, cafe and visitor centre. Take some time here to enjoy the surroundings, learn about the history of the Mill and wander through the gardens. It’s a peaceful haven and a lovely place to stop for a rest.

From there head back to the village and carry straight on to Grantown-on-Spey via Advie. This section includes some fabulous rolling hills and the scenery in the valley is a bonus. We like to stop for lunch in Grantown, especially at Maclean’s the Bakers where you can get a takeaway lunch to enjoy outside on the green, or in the cafe if the weather isn’t so kind.

Once fed and watered, it’s a pretty easy 23 miles back to Forres.

Total: 55 miles


Logie Steading Loop

Welcome to our first Bikerides with Benefits: a guide to bikeroutes around Moray which always include a food stop!

Our appetiser for today is our Logie Steading Loop.
Approximately 24 miles.

Logie Steading is a fantastic haven where you can re-fuel with some lovely food at the Olive Tree Cafe.There are also some wonderful independent shops, a River Findhorn Exhibition, as well as the gardens and riverside walks.

We like to go via Darnaway and come home along the Grantown Road – generally because our bellies are full of coffee and scones and it’s downhill all the way home.

There is so much to do here that you can really make a whole day of it. There is beautiful scenery along the way, as you pass through Darnaway Estate and cross over a spectacular part of the River Findhorn at Daltullich Bridge. There are also some steep hills so you needn’t feel guilty about that slab of cake!