Gravel cycling around the Scottish Islands

Springtime Island Hopping in Scotland

By Anna Beckett>

4-days in Spring island hopping from Arran to Kintyre and Jura finds freedom on a Sonder Camino. Anna, Alpkit's Financial Controller, joined a group of friends and truly found faraway nearby. Here’s the low-down on her adventure and her kit list.

We set off from the Peak District bright and early on Thursday morning. We headed to Ardrossan to get the ferry over to the Isle of Arran for our first ride of the trip just after lunch.

Isle of Arran sunset

We rode over a mix of forestry tracks on the south of the Isle to the breathtaking Glenashdale Falls. We stopped past the Lagg distillery. Our hopes were up for a tea and cake stop. They’d just closed! But, in classic bikepacking fashion, it’s the kindness of strangers that makes the trip. They made us tea in our takeaway mugs to keep us going until our first bivvy spot near Lochranza.

waterfalls
waterfall

The island was incredibly quiet, especially on its west side. Only 20 metres away from the road, I talked my friends into bivvying. Luckily, we didn’t get woken by any passing cars overnight. But we did wake up covered in frost. Oops.

Our ferry over to Kintyre took us past loads of seals – it was beautiful. We made the most of the gravelly forestry tracks. Lovely. Apart from the one that was so boggy that we had to push our bikes.

On the third ferry of the trip to Islay, we met another bikepacker. A seasoned expert in the Scottish islands. He gave us good news and bad news. Firstly, the wind. He warned us it might get so strong it’d stop the ferries running. Uh oh. Then good news. He recommended a fishing hut that was even better than the MBA huts we’d seen.

We were desperate for a swim spot by the time we arrived. Time ran away with us, so we took ferry four to Jura. We cycled just 8 miles to Craighouse for a dip and some belated birthday prosecco. Dinner that night couldn’t have been more local. Deer from the island, black pudding from Stornoway and chutney with ingredients from two doors away.

sunrise

The next morning was the most amazing sunrise. We drank tea in our bivvies, setting ourselves up for a big day exploring Jura. We rode a single track road all the way until it finished. Along the way, we stopped at a horsebox with tea and coffee facilities. It was amazing to drink tea on the beach.

We made a tactical decision to head back early and aim for the bothy our bikepacking friend told us about. We stopped for lunch in a quiet bay. Aliss had a lunchtime swim in the sun. Then, we had to face the headwind. For a group of off-road riders, we quickly learnt the benefits of drafting, each taking it in turns to push on into the wind. We made it to the hut 43 miles (and 3 miles of walking!) later. It felt like pure luxury.

ALT TEXT
ALT TEXT

The next day, we were on a mission: to get back to the car. It took a lot of logistical planning, peloton riding into the headwind, and seasickness on ferry 7. The sea was getting mean. We deserved a bit of a rest. On the final night, we stayed in the Lochranza hostel, glad for a hot shower and bed. It set us up perfectly for our final day. We spent it tasting the local delicacies. The Arran Cheese Shop, Chocolate Factory and Arran Sense of Scotland. They’re all a must.

It was my first multi-day bikepacking trip, Rachael’s first ever bikepacking trip and Aliss’s first trip to Scotland as an adult. It was incredibly special.

Anna's Kit List

Bike

Clothing

Camping

Sonder Bikes

  • Sram Apex AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$2,149.00 $2,349.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • Sram Apex AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

$3,449.00 $3,799.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • SRAM Rival AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

$2,549.00 $2,799.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • SRAM Force AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

$4,099.00 $4,549.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • SRAM Rival AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

$3,799.00 $4,199.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • SRAM Apex 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$1,399.00 $1,499.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • Shimano Tiagra R4700 10-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$1,399.00 $1,499.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • SRAM Apex 1 11-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$1,449.00 $1,599.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • Shimano Tiagra R4700 Hydraulic 10-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$1,649.00 $1,799.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • Shimano 105 R7120 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$1,849.00 $2,049.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • Shimano GRX 610 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$1,849.00 $2,049.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.
  • Shimano GRX 610 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

$1,899.00 $2,099.00
Buy Now. Be Riding Next Week.

6 comments

  • This looks amazing! I don’t suppose you are able to share your route (GPX) at all? Many thanks, Alex

    Alex Gray

    May 02, 2023

  • This looks amazing! I don’t suppose you are able to share your route (GPX) at all? Many thanks, Alex

    Alex Gray

    May 02, 2023

  • This looks amazing! I don’t suppose you are able to share your route (GPX) at all? Many thanks, Alex

    Alex Gray

    May 02, 2023

  • This looks amazing! I don’t suppose you are able to share your route (GPX) at all? Many thanks, Alex

    Alex Gray

    May 02, 2023

  • This looks amazing! I don’t suppose you are able to share your route (GPX) at all? Many thanks, Alex

    Alex Gray

    May 02, 2023

  • Any camping spot recommendations on Islay and Jura? I’m heading over from Ballycastle at the end of May

    Connor

    July 18, 2023

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

=