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Stirling to Pitlochry Explorer


10 Days Trail Cycling

From £995

  • Quiet back roads and cycle tracks. Ideal for families.

  • Great views from the start.

  • Castles, culture and great Scottish hospitality.

  • Plenty of rest days for just that or time for more exploring.

  • An historic tour de force.

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Stirling to Pitlochry Explorer

Starting from Scotland’s historic capital Stirling this cycling trip promises a rich mix of ancient monuments and the chance to discover an intriguing past stretching back to Neolithic times and beyond. Magnificent scenery and abundant wildlife abound from start to finish as the trail winds effortlessly through steep sided valleys and mountain forests, following fast flowing rivers and skirting deep and mysterious lochs. Many times en route truly spellbinding vistas present themselves and on long summer days there’s plenty of time to enjoy them. You’ll travel to Balquidder, site of Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave, visit the fabulous Falls of Dochart and enjoy the splendid beauty of Glen Ogle. There’s several opportunities to witness the making of and sample uisge beatha, literally ‘water of life’ or whisky as you might know it. And at journeys end picturesque Pitlochry promises entertainment and relaxation from its’ renowned Festival Theatre and various spa treatment providers. Each night you’ll stay in carefully selected hotel or B&B accommodation. And following a hearty breakfast head out on the day’s adventure. NB All our tours can be shortened or extended to suit. Just call or email our office.

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Itinerary

  • Day 1 - Stirling

    Arrive in Stirling and book into first night’s accommodation and pick up bikes. Choose from a mix of cycling trails and visit sites of historic interest along the way.

  • Day 2 - Stirling to Callander 20 mi / 32 km

    We start this ride with a climb up to the castle, below which we get expansive views out over the Carse of Stirling toward Ben Lomond in the distance. Somewhat nearer at twenty miles away we see the dark green forests of the Menteith Hills, our destination for the day. A quick cut below the castle walls introduces us to some pleasurable city centre single-track before dropping us down to Stirling Bridge. After winding our way through some quiet residential streets and having crossed two rivers we emerge onto a country lane that sweeps us out onto the Carse of Stirling. We’re treated to some splendid views of Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument before turning away and heading for the hills. A brief climb through golden fields of wheat rewards us with the fabulous sight of Ben Ledi rising at the southern tip of the Highlands. With most of the climbing done we find ourselves surrounded by fields full of horses and ponies. Remember to bring a carrot or apple, especially if you’ve young children in tow. It’s fairly easy going from here down into the village of Doune where several scenes from the tv adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s book Outlander were filmed. Doune Castle played the part of Castle Leoch, fictional seat of the Clan Mackenzie (the real one is Castle Leod which is in Ross-shire) in the series. Leaving Doune we cross the River Teith and pass through the village of Deanston with its distillery before continuing along a hedge bounded country lane surrounded by verdant pasture and deciduous woodland punctuated by the occasional farm dwelling or estate house. After several miles we are reunited briefly with the River Teith before turning onto another road for the final 2 km stretch into Callander.

  • Day 3 - Callander

    Explore in and around Callander. Enjoy clifftop walks along the Crags above the town. Climb the fabulous Ben Ledi or head out into Glen Artney and tackle the mighty Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’ Chroin two of Scotland’s most southerly Munro’s that can be taken together. Go fishing on Loch Venachar or the River Teith or ride the rapids on the Teith back towards Doune. Alternatively the MacLaren Sports Centre has a swimming pool, gym and climbing wall.

  • Day 4 - Callander to Killin 25 mi / 40 km

    An easy ride into history is today’s theme. For most of the way the trail follows the path of the old Callander to Oban railway with optional short detours for a spot of off-roading or to visit Balquidder, site of Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave, the infamous Scottish outlaw immortalised in several texts and popular films such as Rob Roy starring Liam Neeson. The first mile or so is on a well manicured path running between two rivers. Soon the trail crosses a main road and joins a woodland track marking the beginning of a gradual climb northwards. This particularly picturesque section is notable for the rapid flowing river tumbling by just beyond the trees. Soon we emerge onto a quiet single-track road, with the bulk of Ben Ledi rising steeply on our left and the glistening flat expanse of Loch Lubnaig on the right. Beyond the loch we briefly disappear into dense forest before reaching the village of Strathyre. From here we are posed with a choice of routes. The longest and one of the most pleasant swings us round by Balquidder, located at one of Scotland’s most idyllic spots. All routes converge again at Kingshouse and continue along the path of the old railway as it dots between forest and open hillside. At Lochearnhead be sure to look east and enjoy the views over Loch Earn to St Fillans. Beyond Lochearnhead we enter Glen Ogle known for its rugged beauty and soon cross a viaduct before reaching the highest point of the day. From here it’s an easy whoosh downhill through the forest to Killin at the head of Loch Tay.

  • Day 5 - Killin

    There’s no rest for the wicked. Killin sits at the confluence of two rivers and several valleys making it a great base to explore from. Hop on your bike and cycle into Glen Lochay or Glen Dochart and discover the delights each has to offer. A spot of wild swimming in the deep rocky pools in Glen Lochay may prove too tempting. Head for Ben Lawers where it’s possible to climb several of Scotland’s highest mountains in one go. Hire a Canadian Canoe and paddle down the River Lochay to Loch Tay. Take a packed lunch or catch your own with a fishing rod.

  • Day 6 - Killin to Aberfeldy 24 mi / 38 km

    You take the low road and I’ll take the high road. After enjoying the spectacular Falls of Dochart in the heart of Killin we take a peaceful tree lined avenue along the southern shore of Loch Tay. Soon we are presented with the choice of following an undulating single-track road all the way to Kenmore or of taking to the hills for a bit more high adventure. Either way you’re rewarded with spectacular views over Loch Tay to the Ben Lawers group of mountains opposite. There’s a chance to visit a hermits’ cave, view some fabulous waterfalls plummeting into deep ravines or attempt to time travel by touching a standing stone from a stone circle like the heroine Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander, an historical romance that was recently adapted for television. The final stretch of this journey can be done off or on road. And those with a preference for off road trails can choose between two routes, one easy and one moderately challenging. The on road route is gentler on the legs and lungs being almost entirely flat and a mile or so shorter than the tougher off-road option. The gentler off-road option is a delightful riverside rumble that covers a similar distance to the on-road route although the tougher trail is easy enough once the initial climb is out of the way and boasts elevated views of the surrounding countryside and of course no traffic other than walkers, cyclists and wildlife and possibly the odd sheep or Highland coo.

  • Day 7 - Aberfeldy

    Time to relax. Or maybe not. Aberfeldy is well served when it comes to outdoor and adventure activities. There’s boating, canyoning, canoeing, kayaking and white water rafting. Hiking, golf, swimming and a skate park. On road cycling, off-road cycling and mountain biking. Castles, a distillery and a cinema. And along at Kenmore the Scottish Crannog Centre provides a fascinating insight into how we lived back in the Iron Age. Alternatively you could treat yourself to a Spa therapy and give those well worked muscles a rest. We have special arrangements with providers of certain activities and can make bookings in advance on your behalf.

  • Day 8 - Aberfeldy to Pitlochry 15 mi / 24 km

    We start the day with some pleasurable riverside riding down to the picturesque village of Grandtully, a pleasant place to stop for morning coffee and maybe even enjoy watching some kayakers tackling the rumbling rapids. From here we cross the river and decide whether to go high or low. Head high on a traffic free route and a tough climb up through farmland while skirting woods rewards us with fabulous views back westwards along the Tay Valley. Eventually we are led to forest trails where we pass more standing stones. Emerging from the forest a swift descent first on single-track and then rough farm track deposits us in Pitlochry. Staying low we follow a quiet on-road section of the National Cycle Network as it runs alongside the River Tay for much of the way passing through deciduous forest and farmland as we go. Soon the trail cuts northwards as we enter the Tummel Valley and follow a mostly wooded route, predominantly of conifers with the occasional elm, oak and birch. After a long gradual climb the vista opens up and trees give way to fern, broom and flowering meadows. But soon we are again amidst the trees which come and go as we descend towards the River Tummel and our final approach to Pitlochry.

  • Day 9 - Pitlochry

    Pitlochry is a charming Victorian town set amidst some of Highland Perthshires’ most scenic countryside. Roundabout there’s simply loads to do. You’ve got water based activities on Loch Faskally and the River Tummel. Stunning woodland walks in enchanting glens with tumbling waterfalls. Outstanding cycling routes with truly epic views. Awesome mountain bike trails suitable for all the family. And if none of that floats your boat the Pitlochry Festival Theatre usually has something on worth seeing. There’s also a local distillery and a couple of Spas. A soothing massage after your week’s exertions might just be the ticket.

  • Day 10

    There's still time for a quick cycle before your transfer back to Stirling.

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Destinations

  • Stirling

    The historic city of Stirling, once Scotland's ancient capital, in the words of the eminent broadcaster David Dimbleby, has a castle "that rivals Edinburgh's". And so it does. Steeped in history this attractive rural city features in the story's of many of Scotland's and the United Kingdom's most famous historical figures including William Wallace and King James VI and I. James Stewart, known as King James sixth of Scotland and first of England and Ireland was the first king to rule all three nations at once. He spent most of his young life at Stirling Castle which it is thought was originally erected either during or sometime before the 12th century. Stirling is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with open countryside all around that can be accessed within minutes from virtually anywhere within the city. Our accommodation is located in Kings Park, an affluent Victorian district situated below and adjacent to the old town. You are ideally placed to explore both the town, it's parks and the fabulous woodlands and country lanes nearby. All can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle.

  • Doune

    The quiet Stirlingshire village of Doune straddles the River Teith a short distance downstream of Callander and a similar distance upstream from Stirling. It has a long history stretching back nearly 4000 years to the Bronze Age. Various locations in the vicinity have yielded archeological evidence in the form of gravesites, hut circles and standing stones. Evidence of it’s more recent past take the shape of Doune Castle and Teith Bridge dating from 1419 and 1535 respectively. The remains of a Roman Fort have also been discovered here as have that of some of the UK’s earliest Christian constructions that date from around 600 AD. Doune Castle recently shot to fame as Castle Leoch in Outlander, a televised adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s novel by the same name. The story is essentially a historic drama with a twist. The heroine ‘Claire’ is propelled back in time to 1742 after touching a standing stone in 1945 shortly after the end of World War II. She becomes embroiled in the second Jacobite uprising after she is captured by members of Clan MacKenzie. Another of Doune’s claims to fame – so it is said – is that the first shot fired in the American War of Independence was done so from a Doune pistol. Thomas Caddell first made a Doune pistol in the village in 1646, although the oldest surviving pistol dates from 1678 and can be found in Neufchatel Museum, Switzerland. Doune’s near neighbour Deanston, located just over the River Teith is home to Deanston Distillery which is housed in an old cotton mill dating from 1785. The Distillery that today produces single malt whisky is open daily and offers tours to visitors. Be sure not to sample too many drams before hopping back on your bike. Back on the Doune side of the river wildlife watchers might be interested in a visit to either or both Doune Ponds Nature Reserve or Argaty Red Kites. Doune Ponds is free and visitors are likely to see various birds including heron, duck, swan and several other bird species. It’s a pleasant place for a woodland walk and you may even catch a glimpse of a red squirrel. Argaty Red Kites are open all year but visitors must pre-book. We can arrange this for you or provide you with the information to do so.

  • Callander

    Like Aberfoyle just over the hill, Callander straddles the divide between the Highlands and Lowlands. It sits just beyond the eastern tip of the beautiful Loch Venachar at the foot of the forested Menteith Hills. It’s the largest village in the Trossachs and supports numerous hotels, B&B’s, restaurants and bars and is busy most of the year round. The centre of Callander is distinctly Victorian with many of that eras more substantial villas now operating as small hotels or guesthouses. However, many remain as family homes in this relatively affluent town. The River Teith runs right through the villages’ heart providing a particularly pleasant outlook for well placed residences on its banks and sport in the form of fishing and canoeing. Another great site from the village is that of Ben Ledi, a magnificent looking hill and one reasonably easy as well as pleasing to climb.

  • Strathyre

    A fairly small village, Strathyre resides in a particularly picturesque part of the Scottish Highlands. Nestling amongst the trees of the forest that shares its’ name and straddling the River Balvag a stroll from one side of the village to the other is a walk through nature itself. Woodland walks and a footbridge link the villages’ two halves at the southern end while an attractive old stone humpback bridge provides the umbilicus upstream. For visitors there’s an inn and a café for meals and providing accommodation along with the inn there’s also a couple of B&B’s.

  • Balquhidder

    A large parish or a very small village, whatever Balquidder’s designation it’s a delightful wee place. Rolling into the village along the Sustrans cycle route from the south we pass several attractive stone-built homes, mostly working farmhouses and cross a couple of old humpback bridges. The village is simply pretty with a handful of quaint cottages dotted throughout. It has one small tea room despite receiving lots of visitors who mostly come to see the infamous Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave or are heading further into the glen to visit the site of his onetime house at Inverlochlarig. Roundabout there are a couple of B&B’s and a few miles away to the west there’s an hotel, Monachyle Mhor and to the east the Mhor 84 motel.

  • Lochearnhead

    Situated at the western end of Loch Earn the views from Lochearnhead can be spectacular. They’re even better if you climb above the village on the Sustrans cycle track. From up here, on a clear day you can easily see St Fillans at the eastern end of the loch. In the village there are several attractive old stone buildings including a pretty wee cottage with thatched roof. For visitors there are a couple of two-star hotels or four-star B&B’s but limited choice for eating out other than the hotels. The village shop doubles as a post office and sells takeaway tea and coffee.

  • Killin

    Killin is a pleasant Highland village corralled by two attractive rivers that flow into Loch Tay. The Falls of Dochart formed on the river bearing the same name are a wonderful site and draw many visitors to the area in themselves. The River Lochay is a more serene beast that gently meanders around the village, conveniently providing mooring for boats adjacent to properties along its bank. There are several shops in the village including an outdoors shop that hires out mountain bikes and Canadian Canoes. For sleeping, eating and drinking there are also several options in the form of hotels, inns, B&B’s, guesthouses, restaurants and bars.

  • Ardeonaig

    Ardeonaig is a pretty little hamlet on the southern shores of Loch Tay. Not much more than a collection of farm buildings, cottages and country houses it manages to boast a hotel that is renowned for its quality. The Ardeonaig Hotel is a four star establishment that serves as a watering hole to walkers, cyclists and day trippers as well as providing comfortable bedrooms for overnighting guests.

  • Kenmore

    Kenmore is blessed with some tremendous views over Loch Tay towards the Ben Lawers group of mountains on the loch’s northern shore. The village itself is pleasing on the eye too with a picture postcard bridge crossing the River Tay. And then there’s the pretty main square with rows of cottages running down two sides and shouldering the Kenmore Hotel on one of the sides. At one end on a promontory sits the village kirk overlooking both loch and square. Opposite is the grand arched entrance to Taymouth Castle Estate. The castle is currently being renovated and its new owners plan to open an upmarket hotel. Guests might even be able to arrive by plane using the loch as a landing strip.

  • Aberfeldy

    The Highland town of Aberfeldy is a bustling centre of activity. Along the main drag traditional Victorian buildings house shops, banks, hotels, and tea rooms. Step away from here and you’ll find yourself in residential streets full of Victorian terraces and villas many with gardens full of brightly coloured flowers, mature trees and sumptuous hedgerows. At the northern end of town the five arches of General Wade’s Bridge span the River Tay below four sculpted obelisks protruding skywards near the centre of the bridge. It is a simple yet stunning piece of architecture.

  • Grandtully

    Grandtully is a beautiful wee village on the south bank of the River Tay. And despite its size boasts a primary school, chocolatier, hostel, inn, coffee house and a water sports centre. From the inn it’s possible to watch white water rafters and kayakers careering down the rapids below. Less than a minute’s stroll across a bridge adjacent to the inn and water sports centre car park is Grandtully’s nearest neighbour Strathtay, also very attractive. What Strathtay lacks in chocolatiers and inns it gains in a village shop and golf course. And like Grandtully has some fabulous Victorian houses.

  • Pitlochry

    Grand hotels, castles and country homes reside alongside impressive examples of Victorian engineering in a truly stunning mountain setting amidst forests of pine and oak and beech and alder and more. With glistening Loch Faskally and the tumbling Tummel River right at the heart of this spellbinding picture, the allure of Pitlochry is patently obvious to see. It’s no wonder that this town is one of Scotland’s most popular visitor destinations outside of Edinburgh. Besides the usual attractions of spas, a distillery, fine restaurants and quality accommodation Pitlochry also boasts a theatre which is responsible in itself for many of the towns’ visitors. The theatre keeps the punters rolling in all year round with many acclaimed productions to see performed by theatre companies from near and far.

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Hotel, B&B, Inn or Guesthouse

We normally arrange 3 or 4 star bed and breakfast accommodation in guesthouses and hotels. We can also arrange for 5 star accommodation on request depending on availability. Some of the accommodation we offer has no official rating but we are satisfied that it meets a suitable standard of comfort and that the hosts deliver acceptable levels of service. We routinely inspect all accommodation offered and all accommodation must be approved by us before we book it for our clients.

In most cases rooms will have en suite facilities. On occasion two rooms may share the same facilities. That is two rooms accommodated by members of the same party.

Where possible we seek accommodation with access to leisure facilities such as a swimming pool. These may be hotel or municipal facilities.

Below is a sample list of accommodation options for this tour.

  • Stirling Highland Hotel - Stirling

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    Built in 1854 as the city’s High School, the Stirling Highland Hotel sits on the same rocky crag as Stirling's Castle. Certain rooms afford commanding views over the surrounding countryside with sight of the Gargunnock Hills, Carse of Stirling and Trossachs on one side and the Ochill Hills and Forth Valley on the other. It is a four star establishment with an AA rosette restaurant as well as swimming pool, gymnasium and spa facilities.

     
  • The Knowe - Callander

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    Built at the beginning of the twentieth century and enjoying many original Victorian and Edwardian features. The Knowe has been a Guest House for over 25 years providing superb Guest House accommodation to numerous travellers from all over the world.

     
  • Bridge of Lochay Hotel - Killin

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    The Bridge of Lochay Hotel is owned and run by Amanda Clark and Bob Stevenson who, along with their team of friendly staff, aim to offer the very best Scottish welcome and hospitality - our motto is 'nothing is too much trouble'. The hotel is situated on the banks of the River Lochay along our route. It's an ideal spot to rest and recuperate before continuing on your journey.

     
  • Moness House Hotel & Country Club - Aberfeldy

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    A traditional warm Scottish welcome awaits you at the Moness Resort. Set in 35 acres of picturesque countryside, in the heart of stunning Highland Perthshire, Moness provides an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding area. All guests have access to our leisure facilities of a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, hot tub as well as table tennis, pool table and many others.

     
  • Craigatin House - Pitlochry

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    This beautiful early Victorian, former Doctors house, has been transformed into an award winning, luxury, boutique Bed and Breakfast, providing a unique blend of the traditional with the luxury of contemporary design. Standing peacefully in two acres of manicured gardens with private off-road parking, Craigatin can be found at the northern edge of Pitlochry town, just a 5 minute, flat walk, from the town centre where the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, good pubs and restaurants, shops and all local attractions can be found.

     

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We've got it covered

Included

  • Cycle Hire - high quality serviced hybrid, mountain bike or adventurer (see notes).

  • En route support (see notes).

  • Accommodation in selected hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts or guesthouses.

  • Specified meals (See notes).

  • Detailed route descriptions and colour coded maps.

  • Specified transportation.

  • Daily baggage transfer of one bag (suitcase / backpack) per person.

Not Included

  • Travel Insurance.

  • Travel not specified - airport transfers etc.

  • Electric Cycle Hire.


NOTES:

  1. All breakfasts are included as standard. Lunch and dinner are not included unless otherwise specified. Packed lunches are available from most accommodation providers on request. Please ask the accommodation host when on tour. Prices and offerings vary between establishments.
  2. All accommodation providers will cater for clients with special dietry requirements. You must inform us before travelling if any travellers have specific dietry needs in order for accommodation hosts to make appropriate arrangements. We cannot guarantee special dietry needs will be catered for unless we are forewarned.
  3. Most of our routes pass by several eateries so it is usually possible to pick and choose where to have lunch each day. However, on routes (days) where you will not pass an eaterie we advise that you order a packed lunch from your accommodation host. All of our accommodation hosts offer packed lunches. Charges vary from establishment to establishment.
  4. We provide you with a good quality bicycle that is regularly serviced.
  5. If you encounter a technical issue with the bike provided we will either fix it or replace it with another suitable bike. Our support staff can be summoned to your aid en route.

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The best time to go

This tour is available from March - October. The quietist times being between March and May and September and October with July and August being the two busiest months.

Spring
In late March the days grow longer and warmer and the first shoots of young life begin to appear. The fields are full of newborn lambs and wildlife everywhere is once again on the move. The mountain tops are often still capped with snow and even at low levels the last gasps of winter may still be felt with a slim chance for late snow showers. By April spring is in full flow and temperatures can soar into the late teens Celsius although a maximum of around thirteen degrees Celsius is more in line with the norm. Trees have regained all their foliage and nest building is in full swing. The chatter of busy birds can be heard everywhere.

Summer
By May and June the days are long and bright. Around the time of the summer solstice in mid June it's often possible to read by natural light until past 11pm at night. And out on the hill the red deer are fawning. By July and August days are at their warmest with average temperatures around nineteen degrees Celsius although temperatures have been known to climb into the late twenties and even as high as thirty. Most destinations are buzzing with activity during July and August as these are the traditional school summer holiday months. September in Scotland is quieter out on the trail and temperatures generally remain in the high teens. In the rivers salmon can be seen running as they strive to swim up river to their spawning grounds.

Autumn
October is one of the most atmospheric months to be out and about in the wilds of Scotland. The trees gradually turn from green to many shades of brown and orange and when they finally fall they form huge billowy piles on the ground, a couple of feet deep in places. Around the middle of the month the red deer rut gets under way and the bellowing stags can be heard for miles around.

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Call or email now to make a booking or enquire about your options

Please note our office is closed from Friday 29 June 2018 to Sunday 15 July 2018. Where possible we will respond to email enquiries.

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In Brief

  • 9 Nights

  • Easy

  • Trail Cycling

  • From £995 Per Person

  • 84 mi / 135 km

  • From: Stirling

  • To: Pitlochry

  • Available: March - October

  • Min. Age: 9

  • Suit Tagalong:

  • Suit Trailer: