Cycle Britain

Tour Overview.

The North Coast 500 is one of Britain’s most legendary road trips. We’ve adapted the route – avoiding main roads such as the A9, winding through more scenic regions, detouring to luxury accommodation options – to transform it into an epic cycling adventure.

This trip is packed with rugged coastal and mountain landscapes, and a road that twists and turns as though its sole purpose is to showcase the best of Scotland. Sure, this seven-day itinerary is a challenge, but the brave cyclist who accepts it will find themselves well-compensated with jaw-dropping views and with memories guaranteed to outlive the saddle sores and tired legs!

We also offer a 12-day North Coast 500 itinerary, if you fancy a slower and less challenging pace. This tour is also suitable for e-bikes – we are the only company to offer this as a guided option – so this route is now more accessible than ever!

Cycle Britain

500 miles / 7 Days

Cycle Britain tours offer the best customer experience. This means we always go the extra mile, whether it’s our daily bike-wash policy, pre-tour presentation evening or celebratory banquet in Inverness. Every decision is made to create an experience you will remember and treasure forever.

This tour is fully-supported. Ride in a maximum group size of 8 and enjoy the support of our expert team of guides, mechanics and drivers who’ll carry your bags, distribute snacks, help with repairs and lead you along the route while sharing stories that bring each day’s riding to life! We also provide the GPX files for those adventurous souls who wish to navigate or travel at their own pace.

We provide 8 nights of high-quality accommodation. We book private rooms to guarantee optimum rest and recovery, however, room-sharing discounts are possible on request.

Tour Highlights.

  • 'Beallach na ba' - Applecross Pass
  • Lochinver. The fishing village offers stunning views to Suilven.
  • Low-traffic roads. This trip packs all the beauty of the NC500 but adapted specifically for cycling!
  • The rugged landscapes of the Highlands. Ride past shimmering lochs, craggy mountains and barren hills.
  • The satisfaction of riding the North Coast 500.
  • Making new friends and enjoying the camaraderie of riding in a group of 8.
  • Our celebratory evening banquet in Inverness.
  • Great accommodation, specifically chosen to be both comfortable and memorable.
  • Exceptional service that goes beyond your expectations.
  • Our small-group policy ensures you ride in a maximum group size of 8 people.

Summary of the Tour.

  1. Inverness to Lochcarron (64.9 miles)

    On this first day, you’ll cross from Scotland’s east coast to its west coast. It’s a pleasant warm-up as this is the flattest day of the trip, rolling mostly through farmland and beside the occasional loch. You’ll spend the first night sleeping on the shores of Loch Carron.

  2. Lochcarron to Poolewe (84.1 miles)

    Today’s ride begins with the breath-taking Applecross Pass, or to give it its Gaelic name, Beallach na ba, meaning Pass of the Cattle. Until 1975, this challenging climb, comprised of alpine hairpins and the steepest ascent of any road in the UK, offered the only access in and out of Applecross. From Applecross, you pedal along quiet, undulating roads to Poolewe.

  3. Poolewe to Lochinver (80 miles)

    As you near Scotland’s north-west corner, the villages become more infrequent, the roads more desolate and the scenery even better! The route hugs the dramatic coastline where possible, but is forced to detour inland around lochs and mountains. After 50 miles pause in Ullapool; though only 1,500 locals call it home, it’s the region’s largest settlement and therefore an important port and tourist hub. Lochinver offers the best views to Suilven.

  4. Lochinver to Durness (60.4 miles)

    Today’s elevation profile resembles the teeth of a crocodile. The ride is one of short, sharp climbs and descents that exert a heavy tax on your energy. The views remain beautiful as the landscape is pocked with lochs and lochans. Reaching Durness is a milestone as this is the most northerly point of our NC500. From here, we head east.

  5. Durness to Portskerra (52.8 miles)

    Except for a detour inland around Loch Erriboll, today’s route is more direct and heads east keeping the sea on your left. The scenery now begins to change; the rugged crag and rock of the west coast is replaced by greenery and woodland. The cycling remains hilly, but by now the worst is behind you.

  6. Portskerra to Lairg (70 miles)

    To remain on beautiful, cycle-friendly roads, the route leaves the coast from Melvich and heads into the rugged interior of the Highlands. The route climbs gradually beside the Halladale River, before a steep climb over the shoulder of Ben Uarie. We ride just 3 miles along the A9 before returning to quiet roads headed towards Lairg, one of the Highland’s only towns not situated on the coast.

  7. Lairg to Inverness (81.5 miles)

    The easiest section of the NC500 is reserved for last. From Dingwall, we hug the coast and ride a lap of the stunning Black Isle. Then, we cross Kessock Bridge, rolling high above the Beauly Firth, and land in Inverness, where the journey began a week ago. Congratulations! You have pedalled the North Coast 500!

Itinerary.

The North Coast 500 route is an iconic road trip. It starts and finishes in Inverness, completing a loop of Scotland’s jagged coastline. Designed for cyclists, this route sticks to low-traffic roads, challenging climbs and superlative scenery.
 
We tackle the NC500 anti-clockwise, embarking on the rugged west coast first. On Day Two, we tackle Beallach na ba, Britain’s steepest mountain pass. Then, the route heads north, hugging the coastline where possible, but detouring inland around lochs and mountains. There are tough climbs and undulations each day, but picturesque landscapes offer ample reward.
 
The north-west coast is one of the remotest sections. Except for small ports and fishing village, you’ll find yourself immersed in nature. From Durness, we turn right to head along Scotland’s north coast. By now, the route has flattened out slightly.
 
The traditional NC500 route traverses the busy A9 trunk road. This makes for unpleasant cycling; instead, we deviate from Melvich and continue inland. This wild stretch cuts through the heart of the Highlands. Villages are rare, the road seems forgotten, and the scenery is jaw-dropping.
 
We reach Black Isle and discover stunning views of the east coast. Returning to Inverness, congratulate yourself on completing one of Britain’s toughest cycling challenges. Cherish the memories, experiences and new friendships from your adventure.

Dates and Prices.

  • 27th September -
    8th October 2021
    £2400
  • 11th October -
    22nd October 2021
    £2400
  • 18th April -
    29th April 2022
    £2400
  • 10th October -
    21st October 2022
    £2400
  • 22nd October -
    2nd November 2022
    £2400

Route.

All our routes are available to our Komoot followers.  Follow Cycle Britain on Komoot.

What’s Included.

Celebratory final evening banquet

We love to conclude our trips with a celebratory meal on the final evening.

Fully-supported tour

The Alex Wagon is the name of the Cycle Britain support vehicle. It is named after our amazing lead support manager, Alex. He's there to help with anything you may need and will track you on your journey to ensure you have the support required.

Nutritious breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

After a hearty breakfast, the Alex Wagon becomes a pop-up cafe providing nutritious lunches, snacks, and sports drinks throughout your ride.

Cycle Britain tour guide, komoot mapping & detailed route notes

We are an official partner with komoot and make your route available to you once you have booked so you can check the full details of the tour. We provide GPX and TCX files. These can be transferred onto Garmin and Wahoo. When you attend a tour you will receive all the route notes and our free guide as a PDF. Information is also provided in our navigation notes to read on arrival. With detailed trip notes, komoot mapping and your guide, you can't go far wrong.

Live Tracking

Our live tracking allows you to share your journey.

Microsoft Teams Tour Groups

We use Microsoft Teams to help you get to know your team before your departure.

Castelli Cycle Jersey

We provide a high-quality and professionally-designed Castelli Jersey for your tour.

Free use of soft bike bag if needed

Storage bag for your bike if required to take it into your hotel.

Accommodation

8 nights of high-quality accommodation. Unless requested otherwise, we book single rooms to ensure the best rest and recovery.

Expert staff

We are available to support your trip and answer any questions.

Route plans

Accessible as a GPS track on your phone before you even leave. All you need is your phone to use our turn-by-turn navigation.

Daily luggage transfer

We carry your bags between hotels so you don’t have to! When you arrive at the hotel your bags will be waiting in your room for you. We also manage your day-bag and ensure it’s available when you need something.

Unrivalled knowledge of cycling in Britain

We pride ourselves on being the experts on cycling in Britain.

Free guide to nutrition, training and bike setup

To help you prepare for this demanding tour, we provide you with free guides on what to eat, how to train and general bike setup tips.

What’s Not Included.

A bike and helmet.

Please provide your own bike and helmet for this trip. Get in touch if you have any questions regarding whether your equipment is appropriate.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend you take out insurance.

Transport to/from Inverness

Our tour starts and finishes in Inverness.

Evening Meals

We prefer to give you flexibility for your dinners. We do, however, include a
celebratory banquet on your final evening.

Accommodation.

Accommodation options in rural Scotland are limited; however, we always choose the highest-quality option available. Sometimes this will be an excellent B&B and other times it will be a hotel or country house.

We always choose comfortable accommodation where we are sure you’ll find warm hospitality and enjoy a pleasant, memorable stay.

Trip Suitability.

This is a Grade 4 tour, which means it is suitable for ‘for those that want a challenge.’ These routes ‘provide a challenge to complete climbs and steep descents’ and involve ’60 – 100 miles per day.’ 

The average daily distance is 71 miles. Over 7 days, you will climb 28,600 feet (8,700 metres).

Gallery.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Do you cater to vegan and vegetarian diets?

Absolutely! Inform us in advance of any dietary requirements and we will be glad to cater to you.

Will we be able to wash our clothes on the trip?

There will be opportunities to wash clothes and leaders can take your items to a launderette.

Can I charge my phone?

We have a charging station in the support van.

What level of fitness do I need?

This is a Grade 4 tour, which means it is suitable for ‘for those that want a challenge.’ These routes ‘provide a challenge to complete climbs and steep descents’ and involve ’60 – 100 miles per day.’ Check out our coaching section for more info.

What level of ability do I need?

A high level of ability and experience is required for steep ground and long descents.

What level of support is offered?

This trip has full vehicle support meaning everything you need is taken care of. We provide breakfasts, lunches and snacks and can offer advice on nutrition, equipment, preparation and training. We provide detailed route notes and GPX files.