Few places stir the imagination like Loch Ness; a jewel which sparkles even amid the other wonders in the vault of natural beauty that is the Highlands. Arguably the dwelling place of Scotland's wild and wistful soul, the atmosphere here will surround and envelope you like a blanket of the finest tartan. But it's not all about Ness and the elusive beastie that continues to defy seekers. Here a host of smaller lochs appear to hold the sky beneath their surfaces and ancient ruins languish at the water's edge. Battlefields long silent and castles made famous by Shakespeare sit side-by-side with woodland that is home to a dazzling array of wildlife, including golden eagles, red kites, ospreys, pine martins and red deer. The misty peaks and vast, fern covered landscapes only add to the sense that this is a place where history and folklore remain largely inseparable.
Take in the tranquil Caledonian Canal as it winds along through the rugged landscape up to picturesque Fort Augustus at the south edge of Loch Ness. Follow old military roads laid down by General Wade past glassy lochs and cascading waterfalls, stopping for a break in restful tearooms and country inns. Then follow cycle routes between Culloden where Bonnie Prince Charlie saw his hopes dashed and Cawdor where Macbeth plotted his unnatural deeds. Those who wish to can also visit magnificent Fort George before finishing in the Highlands capital of Inverness, where the River Ness and the Caledonian Canal meet Moray and Beauly Firth, and dolphins can often be seen.
Arrive in the waterside town of Inverness. Visit the castle with its 360 degree view over the Highland capital.
You stay at the Inverness Palace Hotel (breakfast included)
A transfer takes you to Gairlochy from where your route follows the Great Glen Way as it criss-crosses the Caledonian Canal and snakes effortlessly to Fort Augustus. En route you'll pass beautiful forest, peaceful rivers and brooding Loch Lochy whose sparkling waters and steep-forested hillsides give a fjord-like feel to the landscape. Your final stretch follows the foaming River Oich. You stay tonight in Fort Augustus at the southern tip of Loch Ness.
You stay at The Lovat (breakfast included)
After a short transfer to Loch Tarff, you climb steadily to Suidhe Chuimein Viewpoint (1200ft) and continue, along General Wade's old military road, to Whitebridge. From here, follow the route to Rabbie Burns' famous Falls of Foyers; an incredible 140ft waterfall. It's then on past the Boleskine woods and riverside Inverfarigaig to Dores, one of the most photographed villages of the region.
You stay at Pottery House (breakfast included)
After a transfer to Nairn the longer route heads down to the Moray Firth, where the impregnable Fort George stands. Both routes continue to 14th Century Cawdor Castle, the setting for Shakespeare's Macbeth, pedal past the impressive Nairn viaduct and Cairns to arrive at Culloden, site of the last full-scale battle to take place on British soil (1746). Ride on into Inverness and your riverside hotel.
You stay at the Inverness Palace Hotel (breakfast included)
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. If you'd like to keep your bikes with you for any extra nights we can arrange this for you for just £ per adult per day and £ per child per day.
Opposite Inverness Castle, Best Western Palace Hotel & Spa is located on the banks of the River Ness. Only a 5-minute walk from Inverness city centre, this hotel offers a swimming pool, leisure club, spa and free WiFi.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY:The Lovat is an award-winning eco-conscious hotel, situated on the southern tip of Loch Ness. The beautiful Victorian building with authentic decor is located in the loch-side village of Fort Augustus and has a restaurant which, in 2007, was named a Top 10 Restaurant in Scotland by the Press and Journal. It was recently awarded three AA rosettes for culinary excellence.
Room upgrades: Please contact us for details.
With beautiful views overlooking Loch Ness and a very warm welcome from your hosts John and Glen, the Pottery House B&B is conveniently situated within a 5 minute walk to Dores. There are 3 large, very comfortable rooms, 2 of which with lake views, all with modern amenities such as power showers, a fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. The attention to detail is second to none, including a hand produced local information book and Highland toiletries. Excellent, award winning breakfasts are cooked to order using local produce.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
The locations were excellent with superb scenery on each of the three days. The representatives from the bicycle hire company were efficient and helpful with the transfer of luggage and ourselves to the starting points for our rides. I made comments to them regarding my bicycle which was not a ladies' bike ( I was told it was unisex but it was hardly any different to a normal men's bike ). This and the fact that the tyres were totally inappropriate for the first day's cycling on an extremely rough surface made it hazardous but were fine for the remaining two days. I did not feel the holiday was value for money when compared with other Headwater holidays abroad and would choose another hotel than the Palace which is very expensive for a small room ( some people would perhaps be prepared to pay this for its location on the river and the spa.) I feel it would have been better to include at least one meal - perhaps at the Lovat.
Thank you for sharing your experience with Headwater, we appreciate your invaluable feedback and this has been shared with our Programme Management Team in order that improvements can be made.
Thank you for choosing to travel with Headwater in 2021, we look forward to welcoming you again in the near future.
Everything was great. The only comment I would make was that I felt the bikes could have had thicker tyres for the forest road section of the route on the first day.
Excellent cycling through beautiful countryside with spectacular views. Some superb places to stay an route
We thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this trip, which took us through a variety of landscapes. Day 2 is all off road and fairly gentle, and gave us the chance to get to know our bikes. Day 3 is more challenging, but on quiet roads and with spectacular views; we were thrilled to see an osprey. Day 4 had a different feel, on secluded lanes in pretty countryside and was the most challenging cycling, with some uphill sections (there were two short stretches of 50m or so where I admit I pushed my bike!); we stopped at Cawdor Castle along the way - lovely garden and tea room - well worth visiting.
All the accommodation was ideal. We especially enjoyed sitting in the leather armchairs with a wee dram in front of a roaring fire at the Lovat, and the lovely welcome and home-made food at Pottery House.
The local agents were delightful and very helpful.
We are in our late 50s, pretty fit but not regular cyclists, and this trip, using standard bikes, was just the right level for us.
It was our first Headwater holiday and we had a super time. Ticket to Ride in Inverness were great with regard to the bike fit and daily transfers.
Wonderful holiday. Highly recommended. Easy cycling through beautiful and varying scenery . The third day of cycling is a bit too busy and expanding holiday by one extra day would make this holiday perfect
However if thinking of expanding holiday, don"t opt for extra night in Dores. Instead find hotel for an extra night in Nairn . First day in Nairn, cycle to Fort George and Cawdor castle and back to Nairn. In extra day, cycle back to Inverness from Nairn via Culloden battlefield. This would improve this holiday even more enjoyable
Great holiday. The routes were varied in cycling surface, scenery, difficulty and amenities. The routes passed through spectacular scenery. If you would like to visit Culloden and Cawdor on the last day, you will need to leave yourselves a lot of time. We visited Culloden separately and would have been hard pushed to do it justice if we had visited whilst cycling. We did visit Cawdor Castle where only the gardens were open. If the castle itself had been open we would have been pushed to explore it properly.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
This 4 night self-guided cycling holiday includes:
Hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of hotels
Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
GPS route directions and maps
Headwater navigation app
High quality bikes
Luggage transfers between hotels
How to book:
For further details, or to check availability, speak to our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or click on the 'check availability' links below to complete our holiday enquiry form (we'll contact you at a time that's most convenient for you).
To enquire about this holiday, or for further information, call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or click on the 'Check availability' links below to complete our holiday enquiry form.
We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
Please contact us for child prices.
Self-guided cycling Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
It is possible to hire electric bikes for this holiday at a supplement of £100 per person. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment.
This holiday does not include any flights or rail.