Routes to Explore
Miles and miles of roads and tracks criss-cross the peninsula from Beauly and Muir of Ord in the west to Cromarty in the east, from the north coast on the Cromarty Firth to the Beauly Firth along the south. Choose a route that suits your level of fitness and time available, and have a great day out.
There are detailed descriptions of lovely routes between Black Isle communities on Transition Black Isle’s site here.
For more maps, information about the wonderful Cromarty-Nigg Ferry and lots more, see www.black-isle.info/getting-around
Check the Northern Times’s article about a great Inverness to Cromarty cycle: see here.
The following are only suggestions – if there’s a particular spot you’d like to visit, ask us for advice on good routes.
Rosemarkie Beach to Chanonry Point: The Dolphin Mile
Start at the beach, bowl along beside the sea to the lighthouse at Chanonry Point and look for the famous dolphins, scoot back for an ice cream at the beach café. Admire the beautiful Celtic mosaic there, and add in a lovely walk to the waterfall at the top of the Fairy Glen, an RSPB reserve. Perfect for a family day out. Around a mile’s cycle each way.
North Kessock to Redcastle
Just across the Kessock Bridge from Inverness you’ll find the seaside village of North Kessock. Cycle along the shore road to Redcastle (yes there is a castle! ) and spot medieval fish traps, a Pictish crannog and amazing birdlife and seals. The road is flat and quiet; go as far as you like and retrace your route back to the village when it suits you. It’s around 5 miles from North Kessock to Redcastle.
Celtic Tree Alphabet Mosaic Trail
Each letter in the Celtic alphabet is also a tree, and throughout the Black Isle you can visit beautiful mosaics of each letter and its associated tree, folklore, flora and fauna. One of the many possible routes takes you from Avoch (mosaics of ailim, pine and quert, apple) to Fortrose (with beith, birch, seille, willow and nuin, ash) along the old railway line path, just a couple of miles on the flat. Cycle another mile to find out more at Groam House Museum in Rosemarkie.
Cromarty to Udale Bay
Around 5 miles each way on the flat along the shore, on a main road but relatively quiet.. The new RSPB hide at their Udale Bay reserve is a great place to catch your breath and marvel at the birdlife. Take your binoculars and a bird book to get the most from your visit then refuel back at Cromarty with its great choice of places to eat.
It’s Miller Time! Cromarty to the fossil beach at Eathie
Find out how a Cromarty stonemason became a bestselling author and one of the most influential of Victorian thinkers. Hugh Miller’s Birthplace Cottage and Museum in Cromarty, owned by the National Trust for Scotland, gives a glimpse into the life of this fascinating man. See fossils from his vast collection and then make your way to the scene of his inspiration, the beach at Eathie, to find some yourself. Around 4 miles cycle each way, some on a main road, plus a steep walk of a mile each way to the beach itself.
Watch the Birdie
Udale Bay to Fairy Glen. Just under 7 miles each way up and over the ridge of the Black Isle takes you between these two lovely and very different RPSB reserves, one a vast bay, the other a shady wooded glen. Mostly quiet roads, with a bit of a climb.
Blondes and Happy Chappies
Ride between the Cromarty Brewery (Beer Worth Believing In) and the Black Isle Brewery (Save the Planet, Drink Organic), get a tour, and buy some award-winning local beers to enjoy once you’re safely home. 14 – 15 miles each way mostly on quiet roads. You’ll be slow with full panniers though…
Singletons, Blondes and Happy Chappies
Add in the multi award winning Glen Ord Distillery in Muir of Ord at the western end of the Black Isle, and fill up your panniers even more. 23 miles end-to-end mostly on quiet roads and cycle paths.
Black Isle Villages
The Black Isle Villages route suggested by VisitScotland takes you on a lovely 21-mile ride round Munlochy, Rosemarkie, Fortrose and Avoch. These villages are packed with history – and some great refuelling options. Find out more about the stories of the area at www.black-isle.info
More challenging routes
Beauly Firth Circuit
Visit Scotland say “This route has been a popular local ride ever since the Kessock Bridge was opened and it includes one of the most pleasant cycles in the area on the north shore of the Firth. However the A862 on the southern shore has become much busier in recent years so this route is best for confident cyclists – or as an evening or Sunday ride when the road is quite quiet.”
Cromarty Firth Circuit
Another great suggestion from VisitScotland. They say “A 60 mile route around one of the three great inlets on the east coast of the Highlands which makes use of the ferry at Cromarty to allow a circuit to be made. Much of the route is regularly used by cyclists on Lands End to John o’ Groats trips.”
Learnie Red Rock
Mountain biking is for everyone! Try the green routes at Learnie Red Rock to get into the groove, then maybe give the blue trails a go. Our bikes, with hydraulic brakes and front suspension, will keep you comfortable over the bumps. If your confidence is up, maybe try coming down the orange descent from Callachy Hill or go over the road and give the black a go. Distance – as far as you want!
Read what Commonwealth cyclist Lee Craigie says about Learnie Red Rock here along with loads of other great routes.
Away from the trails, there are miles of forest tracks to explore. Ask us for advice.
The Beauly Firth Loop
This 26 mile route takes in beautiful sea and mountain views, archaeological remains including crannogs and fish traps, other fascinating built heritage such as Redcastle Pier and Wardlaw Mausoleum of Outlander fame, rich birdlife, and some great options for the essential coffee and cakes.
If you’re not sure about doing the whole 26 miles, try sections of the loop such as the beautiful shore road from North Kessock to Redcastle, combine bike and train using the stations at Muir of Ord and Beauly, and explore some off road options and alternative back roads.
Stop for sustenance in Muir of Ord (Deas the Baker), Beauly (Corner on the Square, The Priory Hotel, The Old School, The Lovat Arms) or North Kessock (North Kessock Hotel, The White Cottage Tea Room).
Many thanks to Highland Council’s Carbon Clever Fund and to Muir of Ord Community Council. For map errors and omissions or for copies of the leaflet, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
South Loch Ness
Once you’ve explored the delights of the Black Isle, there’s some truly lovely cycling to experience on the south side of Loch Ness: RSPB reserves, quiet back roads, stunning views, lochans and woodland. Check the maps here .