Scottish End to End
Welcome to our spectacular new Scottish End to End tour! Over the course of 7 days, we will cycle from Penrith and cross the Scottish border heading along the north-west coast of Scotland finishing in the ancient village of Durness one week later. This tour has come about through popular demand from our customers and follows the same route as the second week of the Dover to Durness ride.
Scotland is home to some of the most incredible cycling the UK has to offer. We set out heading north from the beautiful surroundings of the northern Lake District and then on to the pretty village of Thornhill in Scotland before we take in the west coast of Scotland and also the beautiful islands of Arran, Mull and Skye before we reach the village of Durness, at the north western tip of mainland UK. White sandy beaches and crystal clear waters abound, not to mention the abundant wildlife and sweeping vistas of the Scottish highlands make this tour a truly amazing experience.
The tour runs from Saturday to Sunday with 7 days cycling. Covering a distance of around 515 miles, we climb around 10,000m/33,000ft and travel on five island ferries visiting three Hebridean islands on our adventure north. It should be borne in mind that a reasonably fit cyclist will average around 10-12 miles per hour (including hills) and therefore we will be in the saddle each day for around 6-8 hours.
We will meet you in Penrith and transfer you to to your accommodation and at the end we will take you onwards from Durness to Inverness. If you are worried about getting your bike home at the end of the trip we can arrange for it to be packed, boxed and sent to your address for you so you can relax when you have completed the challenge.
The tour runs in much the same way as our LEJOG or Channel to the Med tour with the ‘magic van’ providing refreshments throughout the tour. Your bags will be transported for you each day and we will be having some fantastic lunches along with our famous ‘brew stops’ twice a day providing you with everything you need to keep you going – you certainly won’t go hungry!
You are provided with detailed route notes and for those with Garmins we also have GPX files of the route (or you can hire a device from us with the route loaded on). Usually a tour guide cycles at the back of the group and there is a support vehicle on hand should you require assistance. We also carry a few spare bikes just in case you have any major mechanical problems.
This is a challenging tour with some tough climbs but you will be hugely rewarded with some beautifully quiet roads and unrivalled views across oceans and mountains.
Sat 6th – Sun 14th July 2019 Places available
Sat 17th – Sun 25th August 2019 Places available
Or why not try our Highland 500 tour which also includes the iconic Beleach Na Ba Highland 500
Saturday: Arrival Day
After arrival in Penrith you will be met by the guides at the station or your accommodation. Everyone should aim to be in Penrith by 6:30pm in time for a welcome meal all together at 7:30pm
Sunday: Penrith to Thornhill (79 miles) Elevation: 2808ft / 856m
Today we cross the Scottish border as we pass through Gretna, Annan and onto Dumfries and Thornhill. An easy start sees us on part of the Coast to Coast ride in the morning, and later on those of you who have completed the LEJOG ride with us will began to recognise the roads just before Dalston. There are some long flat sections to get stuck into in the afternoon, and after making our way through Dumfries we take quiet, undulating country roads to the pretty Scottish village of Thornhill
Monday: Thornhill to Brodick (Arran) (67 miles) Elevation: 3271ft / 997m
A moderate start today past castles and by quiet lanes next to gentle rivers gives way to cutting across the countryside in Ayrshire and then navigating on cycle paths, as we head to Ardrossan to catch the ferry to Brodick on the Isle of Arran. From here we begin the most exciting section of the trip as we continue northwards along the rugged, wild and untamed beauty of the West coast of Scotland.
Tuesday: Brodick (Arran) to Oban (78 miles) Elevation: 5803ft / 1769m
A superb coastal road takes us northwards to Sannox Bay before cutting inland to the north coast of Arran where we will catch the ferry over to Kintyre. A cracking day with fantastic scenery takes us along Kintyre often hugging the coastline up to Oban.
Wednesday: Oban to Mallaig (73 miles) Elevation: 5206ft / 1587m
We begin today with an early ferry onto Mull where we cycle across the island to pick up the 2nd ferry of the day across the Sound of Mull which takes us back onto the mainland. Here we cycle amongst some of the most spectacular scenery that our country has to offer, lets just hope the weather is on our side! We spend the night in the small coastal town of Mallaig, ready to catch the ferry in the morning.
Thursday: Mallaig to Kinlochewe (75 miles) Elevation: 5492ft / 1674m
An early start and another spectacular day takes us across the Isle of Skye to cross the impressive Skye Bridge at the Kyle of Lochalsh and back to the mainland. We have an optional detour to the picture-postcard little village of Plockton which was used as the back drop for Hamish McBeth, The Wicker Man and The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries. The second half of this day is as fine a days cycling as you will encounter anywhere within the British Isles.
Friday: Kinlochewe to Ullapool (75 miles) Elevation: 5390ft / 1643m
Inching ever closer to our goal we continue past the impressive mountains around Beinn Eighe and Kinlochewe. Cycling by the banks of Loch Maree we pass Loch Gairloch and Loch Ewe and pass the Isle of Ewe and also Gruinard Island before passing the Falls of Measach and onto the picturesque fishing village of Ullapool.
Saturday: Ullapool to Durness (68 miles) Elevation: 5016ft / 1529m
This will be our last day in the saddle as we head north from Ullapool, hugging the coastline as we go and taking in the stunning views from shores of Loch Assynt and heading across Kylesku Bridge before eventually meeting the southern tip of the Kyle of Durness just before we roll in, victorious, to our finishing point at Durness! After the absolutely obligatory victory conga and hugs all round, we will head out for our final celebratory meal as a group. A coach will then take everyone to Inverness the following morning, stopping at the train station and airport.
Sunday: Transfer to Inverness and tour ends
A coach will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you from Durness to Inverness making a stop at Inverness train station around 11:30am and Inverness Airport around 12.00pm.
The tour price includes 8 nights accommodation, 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, snacks, tea, coffee, & hot chocolate, full trip support including a tour leader that cycles with the group, back up van with spare parts and a few spare bikes, detailed route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, certificate, cycle shirt, luggage transfer each day, transfer from Penrith Station to your hotel and transfer from Durness to Inverness at the end of the tour.
What’s Not Included?
Evening meals, cycle hire (available for a fee), Garmin hire (available for a fee), ferries (5 in all, should be around £25), transport to Penrith, transport from Inverness.
The group will be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 25 people. We feel that this size of group works best as there will always be enough in the group for some good company but there won’t be so many people that it becomes overcrowded.
We stay in a mixture of B&B’s and hotels. The price quoted assumes that you will be sharing a twin or double room. If you are travelling alone you will share a twin room rotated with others that have chosen the same accommodation option. If you choose the single room option then you will have your own room throughout.
Although the most direct route is much shorter, our route of 515 miles avoids main roads and takes in some of the Scotland’s most beautiful scenery. Wherever possible we cycle along quiet country lanes and cycleways and only join main roads when we absolutely have to.
All of your breakfasts and lunches are included in the price of the trip. You will have a choice of full English, toast, cereals, fruit juices, tea, coffee etc. Lunches will be provided each day and will generally be a buffet at a cafe or a country pub. Evening meals can be bought at your accommodation or in a nearby pub. The back up van also stops to brews and snacks in the morning and afternoon.
An experienced tour leader will cycle with you each day and be on hand to help with any bike problems that may occur. You will have detailed route notes so that you can go slower or faster than the leader if you prefer or you can cycle at the back with the tour leader so that you don’t have to navigate at all.
A back up van will leap frog the group a number of times each day so that help is never far away. We carry a range of spare parts so that repairs can be made en-route and we will have a spare bike available in the event that your bike has a serious breakdown.
We highly recommend that you use a bike that you are used to and feel comfortable riding. Your bike should be fully serviced and in good condition before you start, this will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and unnecessary stoppages along the way. Either a road bike or a hybrid bike is preferable, however the ride can be done on a mountain bike if you prefer. We have a range of road and hybrid bikes available for hire if you don’t have your own bike. At the end of your trip we can arrange for your bike to be sent to your address if you don’t want the hassle of transporting it yourself. Please note, there is a charge for this service. For more information on this, please don’t hesitate to ask.
This tour is suitable for someone with a good level of fitness and who wants a challenge. If you do plenty of training beforehand you should have no problem completing the ride. We will have a training day in the Peak District available if you would like to join the group before the main event.
It must be stressed that a good amount of training before the ride will make your tour much more enjoyable and ensure that you finish your ride. We are always happy to advise you about training plans in preparation for the ride.
Clothing and Equipment
Clothing for all weathers is recommended and waterproofs are essential. A full recommended kit list is provided & we are always happy to answer any questions that you may have.
You can do washing at some of the B&B’s so that you don’t have to bring a mountain of clothes.
What happens when I arrive?
If you would like collecting from Penrith, we will meet you at the station and take you, your luggage and your bike to the hotel where we will spend our first night. Just let us know when you want picking up and we will meet you then. We will have a group meal at 20:00 on the Saturday night so if you are arriving much earlier you have the time free to yourself.
How do I get to Penrith?
You can get to Penrith by car, bus and train (or you could cycle). We can pick you up at Penrith when you arrive on Saturday and transport you and your bike to our first nights accommodation. If you could let us know when you will be arriving and we will make arrangements to collect you if required.
To get to Penrith:
By Car If you are using a hire car there are a couple of car hire companies who have a depot at Penrith. Just let us know when you want picking up and we can collect you once you have dropped off the car.
By Train There are frequent trains into Penrith as it is on the West Coast Mainline. For train timetables tel: 08457 48 49 50 or book online at www.nationalrail.co.uk
What happens at the end?
We arrive in Durness on Friday where we will stay for the final meal. The following morning, a coach will then take us to Inverness and you will then be dropped at either the airport or the train station in place for your onward travel.
If you are taking your bike back with you then we will transport your bike to Inverness for you or if you choose the ‘return transport’ option then your bikes will be packed & couriered back to your address for you.
What mechanical knowledge do I need?
We don’t expect you to be an expert bike mechanic but there are a few simple skills that will be a great benefit to you. The most important skill you need to know is how to fix a puncture. It is quite likely that at some point you will have a puncture or two so it is essential that you carry a puncture repair kit & a spare tube or two with you. It is also helpful if you know how to change your brake pads and adjust your brakes & gears however this isn’t essential. Our guides will help you with any repairs & adjustments en-route.
What are the lunches like?
We arrange a buffet lunch at a pub or café each day. This will be a mixture of sandwiches, pasta salads, soup, quiche, salads etc and will be different at each place. There will always be enough to go round so don’t worry if you are at the back of the group. The lunch stops provide a good opportunity to re-group & catch up with others and compare notes.
Will I be left behind?
No, a tour leader cycles at the back of the group so that you won’t be left behind if you are worried about cycling too slowly. Throughout the group there will be a mix of abilities and cycling speeds so you will usually be able to cycle with others that cycle at a similar pace. Some people like to cycle fast whilst others prefer to take their time, stop for coffee and cake or stop to take photos etc so whether you are a ‘speed demon’ or more of a ‘tourer’ there will usually be someone to cycle with each day.
Do I need to be super fit?
No, you don’t need to be super fit but a good level of fitness is important as the Scottish End to End is a challenging ride. The fitter you are & the more training that you do beforehand will add to the enjoyment of your tour and improve your chances of succeeding the challenge. If you need any advice about fitness please contact us and we will be happy to discuss any questions & concerns that you may have.
What are the groups like?
Obviously each group is different but generally they are a fun, friendly, helpful and adventurous bunch. There will be people of all ages and from all walks of life. We tend to get quite a few older riders although there will always be a few younger riders as well. So far our youngest rider was 15 and the eldest 82. We think that a group of 15-25 is ideal as there will be plenty of people with similar interests and character without being such a big group that it becomes too much.
Generally the group will be split 50/50 between people travelling alone and people that travel as a pair such as two brothers, two friends, two partners. There will be plenty of people to socialise with throughout the day and in the evening.
How do I get my bike home at the end of the trip?
If you are flying then you will need to box your bike before you board the plane. If you choose to do this you will need to send your bike box or bag to the final destination at the hotel in Durness as we don’t have space in the back up van to carry bike boxes or bags for everyone (Exceptions of one or two foldable cases are sometimes made for overseas travellers). If you are travelling by train you will need to ensure that your bike is booked on each leg of your journey. We will transport your bike back to Inverness for you.
An easy alternative to transporting your bike yourself is to use the services of Ticket to Ride (www.johnogroatsbiketransport.co.uk). Whilst we don’t take any responsibility for any outside bike couriering services previous customers have used them and have reported that they offer an excellent service.
The way it works is that we will transport your bikes back to Inverness where a member of the Ticket to Ride staff will meet us at the airport/station & take any bikes that are to be posted or they will collect bikes from Durness. The bikes will then be boxed (this usually means that they will remove the front wheel, pedals, saddle & handlebars) and posted to your address. The price for this service is £77.00 per bike. If you would like to use this service please let us know & we will book it in for you.
What happens in the evenings?
Once you have arrived at your accommodation you should have chance for some time to relax, have a shower etc before the evening meal. We usually arrange somewhere to eat for the evening meal so that we can all get together and you won’t be left alone if you would like to eat with others. Quite often we will simply arrange a certain pub to meet up and just drift in when you are ready whilst at other places we have a set time to eat – it just depends on the location.
Does the support vehicle follow the group?
No, the back up van doesn’t drive behind the group at all times but the van shouldn’t be too far away if you require assistance. In the morning we have a group brief and set off cycling, meanwhile the backup driver will collect all the luggage from the various B&B’s and hostels. Once all of the luggage has been loaded, the support vehicle will leapfrog the group stopping when necessary. The backup driver will be at the lunch stop should you need anything from the van & in the afternoon will go on ahead to ensure that your luggage is in place before you arrive.
How much luggage can I take?
There is limited space in the back up van to store luggage. We therefore request that you try to keep your luggage size to a minimum & try not to bring too much with you. Washing clothes can be done en-route so you shouldn’t need to bring a clean set of clothes for every day. The ideal size for luggage is 70 x 50 x 30 cm and a weight of 15-18kg (or less).
What training should I do?
The more the better. We will provide a training guide for you so that you can build up your cycling strength and prepare for the ride in the correct way. It is important that you cycle two long days back to back whilst training & also that you cycle on some hills. We hold training weekends at the start of the season so that you can meet with others in the group, ask any questions you may have & also test yourselves amongst the hills of the Peak District.
What bike should I use?
The most suitable bike for this trip is a hybrid/touring bike or a road bike, however it is entirely up to you what type of bike you use. Some people may be riding mountain bikes, others hybrids & others on racing bikes.
Please ensure that your bike is fully serviced and in good working order before the start of the trip.
If you are riding a mountain bike then it is advisable to use slick tyres. If you are using a lightweight racing bike it would be better to use a slightly wider tyre than 23mm if possible for touring long distances, for comfort and the different road surfaces you may encounter. Tyre inflation & rubber composition is important and a tyre width of 25mm or more is recommended for this tour. Please ensure that you have hard wearing tyres with plenty of tread.
You are going to cycle over 500 miles so it is important that your bike won’t let you down. You may want to fit new brake blocks, tyres & inner tubes before you start the ride and also bring 3-4 spare inner tubes, pump, puncture repair kit and multi-tool to carry with you each day. It is essential that you are able to fix a puncture.
It is also advisable to have front and rear lights on your bikes and try to be a visible as possible.
Can I hire a bike from you?
It is advisable to use your own bike if possible however we realise that it is not always possible to use your own steed so you may wish to hire one. We have two types of road bike and three types of hybrid/touring bikes bike available. Details of these bikes can be found by clicking on the ‘Tour Extras’ tab.
All of our hire bikes come fitted with a cycle computer, water bottle cage, bell, map holder, rear rack and mudguards (hybrids only) and front and rear lights. We can also provide a pannier with a multi-tool, pump, puncture repair kit, spare tube and tyre levers at no extra cost. All bikes can have flat pedals or SPD’s but if you would prefer to use your own (and maybe your own saddle) then please bring these along with you. We can also provide a helmet for you at no extra cost.
What gear should I take?
We provide a suggested kit list so please contact us if you would like a copy sending to you.
What is the male / female ratio?
This varies with each group. There are usually more guys than gals but an average would be about 1/3rd ladies & 2/3rds gents.
To book a tour please send a completed booking form and (a) Deposit of £250.00 per person for tours of 7 days or longer or £50.00 for all other tours or (b) The full holiday cost. If only the deposit is paid at time of booking then full payment of the holiday is required no less than 8 weeks before the start of your holiday. No further reminder is sent. If you book your holiday within 8 weeks of the holiday start date, the full holiday cost is required at time of booking.
Cancellation by Us
In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the tour you will be entitled to a full refund of all monies paid or we will move you to a different tour date if you’re able to do so. If the tour is cancelled because the minimum number of people required to operate this tour hasn’t been reached then you will be notified no less than 3 calendar months before the departure date. If the tour is cancelled by us we will not be responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred such as travel expenses, visas etc & no compensation will be paid to cover these expenses.
Cancellation by You
If you have to cancel your holiday then please notify us as soon as possible. We always try to be fair and will always try to move you to different tour date if possible. If you cancel your tour less than 8 weeks before your tour start date then you will lose all monies already paid. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance to cover cover this.
Notice of Cancellation Charge (% of Full Price)
Length of time before the tour is due to start Cancellation Charge More than 60 days before start date Deposit Less than 60 days before start date 100%
Cooling Off Period
If you decide to cancel your tour after receipt of your booking form you will be entitled to a 14 day cooling off period. During this time you will be entitled to a full refund of any monies paid.
B&B Option – double or twin
If you chose the B&B only option you will stay in a mixture of B&B’s, hotels and country pubs. If you are travelling with a friend then you will be roomed together in a twin or or if you’re with your partner then you will be in a double room (or a twin if you prefer). If you are travelling alone then you will be roomed with another member of the group in a twin room (same sex). The actual stopovers may change from the advertised accommodation providers, if this happens then an equivalent standard of accommodation will be used nearby. The majority of the rooms you stay in will be en-suite however you may stay in a couple of rooms that are not en-suite.
Single Room Option
If you choose the single room option you will have your own room for the duration of the trip. This will be in either a single room or single occupancy of a double room in a mixture of en-suite and non en-suite rooms.
Sole Use of a Double room Option
If you choose this option you will have a guaranteed double room to yourself throughout the tour. You will always have an en-suite each night of your tour. There may be a rare occasion when you have a separate bathroom but this is very unlikely.
YHA (Youth Hostel) Option
This option is only available for the 14 day LEJOG tour. If you chose the YHA option you will stay in a mixture of hostels, hotels & B&B’s staying in single sex dormitory rooms, single rooms, twin rooms & triples.
On tours with 8 people or less in the group then there may only be one tour guide with you who will drive the back up van each day. Tours with 8 – 15 people in the group will have two tour guides with one guide driving the back up van and the other guide cycling with the group or both guides driving a back up van each. Tours with 16+ will have a guide that cycles with the group plus two back up vans do provide support.
If you choose the cycle hire option you will be provided with your bike at the start of your tour. The bike comes with everything you need for your trip although some people like you use their own saddle, peddles and/or helmet (just let us know beforehand). At the end of your tour you can simply hand your bike back to us when you finish cycling. Please see the additional cycle hire sheet for details of the bikes we have available.
If the minimum number of people required to run the trip is not met then we will have to cancel the trip. You will be notified at least 3 calendar months prior to the start date of the trip if the minimum number (usually 8 people) hasn’t been met & you will receive a full refund of all monies paid.
In order to comply with EU Travel Regulations 1992 your deposit & final payment will be held in a separate account until your holiday is completed. This is to ensure the financial security of your holiday.
It is compulsory that you take out adequate holiday insurance including medical cover, personal accident, loss of belongings & cancellation cover. We cannot be held responsible for your own illness, injury or loss/damage of your bike or belongings while on holiday.
EHIC – European Health Insurance Card (for EU nationals travelling in Europe)
This card entitles you to greatly reduced or free state medical services throughout Europe, including Switzerland. We recommend you send off for one of these before the trip and carry it with you. It’s important to bear in mind that these cards are not a substitute for travel insurance and adequate travel insurance is compulsory for this tour. This link will give you all the information you need about the EHIC. www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC
Cycling is a potentially dangerous activity & the risks involved should be considered before undertaking such a trip. We will be cycling mostly on quiet back roads however there will be times when we cycle on busier roads where traffic density is higher. All persons undertaking this tour do so at their own risk & Peak Tours cannot be held responsible for any accidents that may occur whilst on the trip. For further details please see our risk acknowledgement statement here which forms part of these conditions.
By signing your booking form you agree to the booking conditions as outlined above. Peak tours will carry out our obligations as detailed in the tour itinerary & any information supplied to you.