Argyll

Rider: Josh Wood

Josh’s loop takes you on a breath-taking tour of west Scotland through to the Inner Hebrides, taking in views of some of Scotland’s most famous islands – with an option to visit Jura, once George Orwell’s writing retreat. Here, rising sea levels and coastal floods caused by climate change are threatening the landscape.

The route starts in Ardrishaig, which can be reached either from Oban by train, or by bus from either Oban or Glasgow (it’s bike-friendly but, you’ll need a carrying bag). The Cycling UK Ardrishaig Bothy is where you’ll find maps, advice and guidance on all things cycling.

From here, you can start your ride by visiting the Steamer Terminal, which offers up a great breakfast using the best of Argyll’s local produce. After you fuel up, you start cycling along the Crinan Canal, which was built in 1801 to make the perilous journey by boat to and from Glasgow easier and faster.

The route along the canal is entirely traffic-free, so it allows you to pick up speed if you want to – but just remember to stop to take in the views. Roughly four miles along the canal, you reach the Cairnbaan Hotel, a great halfway stop for some (vegan) refreshments. If you’re taking a break here, have a look at the Neolithic cup and ring markings.

As you continue along the canal, views of the Moine Mhor National Nature Reserve open up. If you take your time, the cycling in this area is particularly beautiful. Moine Mhor’s bogland is home to plants and animals that have adapted to thrive here: raised bogs like Moine Mhor are among Europe’s most threatened habitats.

Not long after, you’ll see the breathtaking views out to the islands of Islay and Jura. Meander your way to Crinan and enjoy a coffee stop there. If you continue on the road out of Crinan, a small climb awaits, so be prepared to cycle hard – but the detour to the harbour is worth the effort.

After the harbour, you can circle back to Ardrishaig, or if you want to extend your ride to a whole day, visit the island of Jura (highly recommended). You can cycle 45 minutes to Tayvallich and jump on a passenger ferry (remember to book in advance) which drops you in Craighouse, where there’s a shop, the Jura Hotel and Antlers Bistro. There's only one road in Jura, so you can't really get lost! The road passes stunning bays and beaches with a lot of short sharp climbing, but the views are worth it. If you cycle beyond the tarmac road onto a gravel track you will be taken past the house where George Orwell wrote 1984.

about the rider

Josh Wood is a cycling instructor from Dumfries and works to give people in his area the confidence to cycle as part of their daily lives. From families riding together, cyclists on the commute or those wanting to take day trips out, Josh helps people ride with confidence. Josh has explored as much of Scotland as possible on two wheels with his wife and cycling partner, Katie.


beauty in the balance

The Western Isles of Scotland experience the fastest rate of sea-rise in Scotland, at around 6 millimetres per year.
Rising sea levels caused by warming of the ocean threatens to put vast areas of the Hebrides under water by 2050.
Over a fifth of Scotland’s coastline – more than 2,000 miles - is at risk of erosion from rising sea levels.
Global sea levels could rise 50 centimetres by 2100, putting millions of people and their communities at risk.


what to see and do

Argyll Beaver Center

A small detour to the Argyll Beaver Centre to discover (and meet) the local wildlife.

Kilmartin Museum

Neolithic history is never far away here, and the Kilmartin Museum is a superb place to learn more about it

Wisdom Wood

Take a detour to see the incredible standing stones of Wisdom Wood.

Jura

Jura is home to wonderful wildlife, including a large population of red deer and birds.

ride guide: the who, what & where

for a pitstop

The Egg Shed at Crinan Canal is a fascinating museum and home to some of Scotland’s most interesting local history.

for repairs & maintenance

The Cycling UK Ardrishaig
Bothy in Ardrishaig can provide all the information you need for cycling in this region.


for meeting the locals

The Mid-Argyll tri-cycle club is inclusive to members of all abilities – from novice and late-bloomers through to elite athletes.

for a place to stay

If you’re travelling from afar, accommodation can be found at the cycle-friendly Kings Reach Vegan Bed & Breakfast.


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