Scotland: Highland Odyssey

Cairngorms to Cuillins; mountain to ocean: experience the beating heart of Highlands

On this new Highland Odyssey mountain bike tour in Scotland you’ll experience the glorious tapestry of landscapes, trails, people, and food that make up the Scottish Highlands. From the rolling hills of the Cairngorm massif to the imposing peaks of the Cuillin and Torridon mountains, you’ll cross land and water and immerse yourself in Highland life.

Top local photographer Ross Bell has followed us over mountains, across glens and through forests to capture the essence of our Highland Odyssey mountain bike tour. Take a look through the gallery to see what awaits you in the Highlands…

Is this Highland Odyssey MTB tour for you?

We want you to have the best experience in Scotland, so it’s important to be sure that this is the perfect mountain bike tour, with the right level of challenge, for you.

You’re an experienced mountain biker, riding at least twice a week through the season and comfortable on: technical climbs; tight singletrack descents through forest; rough, rocky singletrack; rock gardens; muddy/ loose trails; and water bars. Read more on our intermediate+ skill level.

Tour Dates 2020

  • 23 – 30 May
  • 20 – 27 June (5 PLACES)
  • 22 – 29 August (6 PLACES)

Contact us if you would like to create your own private group tour.

Trip Highlights

This Highland Odyssey mountain bike tour in Scotland is a real immersion into the way of life in the Highlands. In addition to unforgettable mountain biking, here are some other special moments you can look forward to in the Scottish Highlands:

  • Riding in Britain’s only Arctic environment
  • Enjoying dinner watching the sun set over the Isle of Skye
  • Biking along the coast, then catching a small boat back to the mainland
  • Taking on the top two descents in Scotland in the famous Torridon mountains
  • Indulging in the best local seafood, followed by a gin tasting
Highland Odyssey Mountain Bike Tour

Highland Odyssey Mountain bike tour Itinerary

The flow of your Highland Odyssey mountain bike tour has been designed to become progressively more technical throughout the course of the week. Your guides will talk you through each new challenge so that you make the most of your Highland experience and go home a more technically skilled mountain biker.

+Arrival in Scotland - refresh + prepare for your adventure

If you’re travelling a long way or across several time zones to Scotland, we would recommend arriving in Inverness a day or two early to allow your body to adjust and to make sure any flight or luggage delays don’t spoil your trip.

We will send you accommodation recommendations for Inverness once you’ve booked your place.

+Day 1 - Group meet-up + warm up ride in Rothiemurchus Forest

Your guide will meet you late morning in Inverness (exact details will be advised two weeks before) and transfer you to H+I Adventures HQ for a welcome briefing with coffee and cake, and bike building/ tuning session.

With bikes set up and ready to roll, we’ll head south to Aviemore for our first ride into the Cairngorms proper, and one of the largest surviving areas of ancient Caledonian pine forest in Europe. Covering an area of over 30 square kilometres, this forest is steeped in history and folklore.

Weaving our way through 300-year-old Scots pine, our ride starts to head off-the-beaten-track into the lesser-known singletrack that flows through the forest at the foot of the iconic northern corries of the Cairngorm massif.

After a short climb we will descend a great piece of singletrack built for the national cross country championships, which has been left to change over time into the natural, fast and flowing trail it is today. Heading up and over the ‘Rocky Road’, we get views looking across the Eastern Cairngorms, and with one more flowing descent we spin back to Aviemore, passing Highland cattle and red deer, and making it back in time for some of the finer tastes of this area!

We will be staying in our favourite guest house tonight, and will head into town to a locals’ favourite for our first meal together.

Distance cycled: 15km (app. 3 hours)
Accommodation: Guest house Aviemore
Meals included: Breakfast

+Day 2 - Wilderness riding in Glen Feshie

One of the most beautiful, dramatic and lesser-travelled areas of the Cairngorms is Glen Feshie. This wide open glen could easily be mistaken for a set from Jurassic Park, and this is where we start to get a real taste of wilderness. Our ride starts with a short transfer into lush forest, home to endangered animals such as Capercaillie and Pine Marten, and slowly opens towards the River Feshie.

Skirting along the river on double and singletrack, we ride further into the glen itself and then the adventure really starts! Be prepared for wet feet as we cross the river and head up above the old hunting lodges, before we arrive at a gorgeous piece of singletrack flowing through the high forest and into the moorland.

Let off the brakes before the final sweeping corners below, and if you can manage to look up from the trail the view across the moors is often littered with herds of wild deer. Still buzzing from the descent we start to work our way across to the hillside opposite, passing old crofts and abandoned black houses left from the Highland Clearances.

Back on singletrack we climb a short but punchy trail to the top of the hillside for a short breath catcher. Below us is a local favourite – super-fast and flowy, it’s impossible not to have fun on the well earned last descent.

Back at the van we’ll load bikes onto the trailer and head over to Fort William, where we’ll have a great meal in a restaurant set right at the foot of Ben Nevis. After dinner we will check in to our accommodation on the shores of Loch Linnhe.

Distance cycled: 40km (app. 6 hours)
Accommodation: Small hotel, Fort William
Meals included: Breakfast

+Day 3 - Coastal singletrack and dolphin spotting!

After a big breakfast, today’s ride is one of the hidden gems. We’ll drive from Fort William to the busy fishing town of Mallaig, and the start of our ride. After a short road spin and climb to wake up the legs we find ourselves on the singletrack above Loch Morar, famed for its remote location and the Loch Morar Monster (Nessie’s cousin).

The trail is a mixture of fast flowing turns through ferns and challenging rocky climbs and descents, all surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Eventually we’ll work our way to a hidden beach where we will be collected by the island ferry.

On the way back to Mallaig we’ll be looking at the steep coastal mountains we have ridden, and keeping an eye out for the sea eagles swooping above us, and dolphins playing in the bow waves below us.

Tonight we will have dinner accompanied by panoramic views across to the Isle of Skye, which is where we are heading tomorrow.

Distance cycled: 20km (app. 4 hours)
Accommodation: Small hotel, Mallaig
Meals included: Breakfast

+Day 4 - Isle of Skye and the Cuillin mountains

This morning we’ll cross the water, taking the island ferry over to Armadale on the Isle of Skye, and drive north through the beautiful ‘Garden of Skye’.

Today’s ride is an out-and-back route where the trail carves its way through the valley between the majestic Cuillin mountains. This is a deceptively challenging trail – you won’t gain much height, but the terrain is very rocky in places, and you’ll have to work your arms lifting both wheels over obstacles!

We’ll end our ride conveniently at the Sligachan bar where we’ll stop for a wee dram, before heading over to the picturesque village of Plockton and our accommodation for the night. We’ll have another delicious meal in the village pub, where we might be lucky enough to catch some local musicians playing.

Distance cycled: 24km (app. 5 hours)
Accommodation: Small hotel, Plockton
Meals included: Breakfast

+Day 5 - Traversing the Applecross Peninsula

After a proper Scottish breakfast, we’ll drive the coastal route to Kenmore and the starting point of our ride. There will be some tough climbing to start, then we’ll crest out at the plateau to admire the stunning views.

Next it’s knee pads on, brakes off as we enjoy a truly grin-inducing descent which leads us straight to Applecross bay and the famous Applecross Inn. We’ll tuck into more world-class seafood before retracing our bike tracks to Kenmore and driving the short distance to tonight’s accommodation in Kinlochewe.

Our accommodation is a former coaching inn, steeped in mountaineering history, and we’ll enjoy a wonderful dinner followed by a gin and whisky tasting with the owners!

Distance cycled: 28km (app. 4 hours)
Accommodation: Small hotel, Kinlochewe
Meals included: Breakfast

+Day 6 - Torridon big mountain day

Make sure to fuel up this morning, as today is a big mountain day! As far as mountain biking in Scotland goes, Torridon is an iconic destination, but we’ll still have most of the trails to ourselves, and your first day of riding here is sure to blow your mind.

You’ll ride some challenging, but enjoyable climbs, loads of rocks, steps, and “babies’ heads”, and then be rewarded with a superb descent that seems to go on forever!

You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to take some spectacular photos across the hills and sea.

After riding, dinner will be in real favourite of ours set in the quaint, seaside village of Shieldaig, before returning for our second night in Kinlochewe.

Distance cycled: 60km (app. 8 hours)
Accommodation: Small hotel, Kinlochewe
Meals included: Breakfast

+Day 7 - More Torridon treats

On our last day of mountain biking in Scotland we climb back out from the bottom of the glen and head up into the mountains of Torridon for our second fix of these incredible trails. This is what mountain biking in Scotland is all about! After stopping one more time to soak up the atmosphere and appreciate the giants of Torridon, we’ll drop into the best descent from the previous day.

Now you know the lines, you can let off the brakes and really enjoy the trail, a perfect way to finish a week of riding the best of Scotland with a smile!

Once the bikes are loaded on the trailer for the last time, we’ll drive back to Inverness and our beautiful guest house for the evening, before heading to our favourite restaurant in town for our final celebratory meal together.

Distance cycled: 25km (app.4 hours)
Accommodation: Small guest house, Inverness
Meals included: Breakfast

+Day 8 - Departure

Sadly today is the end of our fantastic mountain bike trip in Scotland, and we have to say our farewells after an unforgettable adventure experiencing the best of the Highlands.

Meals included: Breakfast

Please note: Our mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey is a living thing, being influenced by multiple factors such as changing weather conditions, group riding abilities, trail damage, to name a few. Your local guides are experts in guiding mountain bikers in the Highlands of Scotland and will be continually assessing these factors and making tweaks to the itinerary where necessary to ensure that every member of the group has the best possible experience..

+Tour price

Highland Odyssey Tour Price

£1,495 / $2,168 USD per person (ex. flights, based on two sharing a room) We welcome solo travellers on our adventures and if you are happy to share a room with another solo rider of the same sex you do not need to add the single supplement. If, however, you wish to have a room by yourself, a single supplement of £300 / $435 USD will be payable.

H+I Adventures is bonded by the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), so you can be sure that when you book with us your money will be safe. Price includes:

  • Services of a fully-qualified, expert mountain bike guide for the duration of the trip
  • All breakfasts
  • 7 nights’ accommodation
  • All transport as required by the itinerary
  • Ferry tickets
  • Gin/ whisky tasting
  • All group safety equipment
  • Airport/ H+I recommended hotel pick-up on day 1 and drop-off on day 8 of tour (specified times apply)
  • Global Rescue security evacuation services

Price excludes:

  • International/domestic flights
  • Bike rental – we have a limited number of fantastic Yetis available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of £350/$508 each
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches and evening meal
  • Tips in restaurants and hotels
  • Alcoholic/ non-alcoholic beverages
  • Personal safety and cycling equipment
  • Any other items not mentioned as included


+Skill + fitness levels required

Does this sound like you? Your vacation time is precious and we want to be absolutely sure that you’re making the most of it, by finding the perfect mountain bike tour for you. Be honest with yourself, if this adventure isn’t right for you, we have other mountain bike tours that may well be a better fit for your mountain biking experience and ability.

Please note: The skill level required reflects an overall rating for the trails on the trip but you should expect to find sections and obstacles that push your ability levels.

Skill level: Intermediate+

  • You are generally comfortable riding most types of terrain in different conditions: singletrack, double track, muddy, dry, loose, bedrock…
  • You can brake, use gears and corner instinctively
  • You’ll have a go on moderate technical features, such as small rock gardens, small drops and steeper sections, but may get off and walk certain technical features
  • You ride more than once a week throughout your biking season
  • And the ‘+’ part of ‘Intermediate+’ means that you will be aiming to tackle more of those moderate technical features

Fitness level: 6

  • You have a reasonable level of mountain bike fitness, exercising at least twice a week for one hour or more, throughout the whole year
  • You can ride a mountain bike for up to six hours per day at a moderate pace, with snack and photo stops, for four or more consecutive days
  • You are capable of tackling one or two moderate mountain bike climbs per day, of up to 600 metres each

Typical trails you’ll be riding

  • The trails on our Highland Odyssey mountain bike tour are natural ‘rustic’ ancient walking paths of varying trail surface, that will increase in technical difficulty as the tour progresses
  • Double track: undulating and sometimes steep jeep tracks made up of a hard-packed and loose dirt surface; forest roads
  • Singletrack: you will encounter up to head-sized, fixed and loose rocks, as well as fixed bedrock style trails, drainage bars, roots, and ruts (some deep)
  • The surface may be dry and loose, or wet and muddy depending on weather conditions
  • You will have to carry your bike (hike-a-bike) on one occasion, for up to 45 minutes, and there are river crossings to contend with
  • You will have wet feet!


+Arrival + departure details

Your Highland Odyssey mountain bike holiday in Scotland will start and end in Inverness. Your guide will meet you in Inverness around 12 noon on the first day of your tour (exact details will be provided two weeks prior to departure).

If you are flying to Scotland we advise that you arrive the day before and book an overnight stay in Inverness, in order to allow for any delays in flights and/or luggage.

We have created this handy guide for spending 24 hours in Inverness before the start of your mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey.

On your departure day we will return you to Inverness train station at 10 am, at the latest. If you have an earlier connection please let us know and we can discuss it with you.


+Travelling to Scotland

Inverness is well connected to the rest of the UK by good rail, air, and coach links. For more information on how to get to Inverness view our travel guide.

You must book your bike on to your flight in advance, otherwise you could face a heavy charge at the airport. Here are some tips and video on how to pack your bike for travel.

VISAS

Visitors from certain countries require a visa to holiday in the UK. Please check the UK Government website before booking to see if you will need a visa for your Highland Odyssey mountain bike adventure, Scotland.


+Preparing yourself + your bike for your adventure

Please read the full kit list before you start packing for your mountain bike tour Scotland, so that you have everything you need!

One of the trail obstacles you’ll encounter often along the way, which some people may not be used to, is water bars. To overcome water bars without incurring pinch punctures, you need to be proficient at the front + rear wheel lift (bunny-hop), so get practising!

Our Highland Odyssey mountain bike tour Scotland is for intermediate+ riders with level 5 fitness. The ideal bike for the Highland trails is a good quality full-suspension bike with around 150mm of front travel. To get the most out of your mountain bike tour Scotland you should plan some training in advance of your tour, and it is essential that, if you’re bringing your own bike, you must ensure that it has been properly serviced before the trip.

We have some handy tips on how to do this, however if you would rather rent a bike we can organise rental of one of our fantastic Yeti bikes for the duration of your mountain bike tour Scotland.

+Your mountain bike guides in Scotland

Our mountain bike guides in Scotland are qualified to the very highest level in the UK, through the Scottish Mountain Bike Leader Award. They are qualified in first-aid and for this type of trip they also hold an Expedition Leader Award, which means that they have the knowledge and experience to lead a group safely in these very remote, wild and unpredictable parts of Scotland.

In addition to formal qualifications, our guides have years of experience in the saddle on the Highland trails and will be able to enhance your holiday with facts and fables on local history, flora and fauna.

The team is made up of local riders who are experts in their fields, superb local guides and genuinely nice people. Their passion for mountain biking and for the Highlands and Islands is truly infectious and they’re completely committed to responsible tourism and making sure that our business is run as sustainably as possible.

+Accommodation + food

One of the things that set our tours apart from other mountain bike tours in Scotland is the excellent accommodation we use. We understand that when you’ve had a big day in the great outdoors, you want a warm welcome, hot shower and a comfortable place to relax and unwind – because that’s exactly what we’re looking for too. 
This is why we only work with accommodation providers across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland whose standards of service match our own high expectations.

Food is a major part of our mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey, and we’ve worked hard (it’s been very tough!) to find the best local restaurants, cafes and pubs that produce the most delicious home-cooked meals using fresh, locally sourced produce.

+Health + safety

No vaccinations are required for visiting Scotland.

You can drink the water from the rivers on our tours, 
following the instructions of your guide, and purification 
tablets will be available should you require them. All our guides are fully trained first aiders, so you can have peace on mind wherever you’re riding.

You should always consult your own doctor or physician before travelling to new countries to seek their advice on matters concerning your health abroad.

Your health and safety is on tour our top priority so when you travel with us you also have the peace of mind knowing that you will be covered by emergency medical and evacuation services.

Also, please let us know if you have any special food requirements, allergies or pre-existing conditions your guides should know about.

+Currency + foreign exchange

The currency in Scotland is GBP (£), and this is the only currency that will be accepted, without exception. Where we will be travelling there are few banks, but most restaurant and shops accept credit card. It is, however, a good idea to have a small amount of cash (£50 per person) with you at all times, as a back-up.

TIPPING

It is not compulsory to tip your guides or drivers in Scotland, but if you feel that you have had a good service or experience on your mountain bike tour in the Highlands, you can tip at your discretion.

+Holiday insurance

You are required as a condition of booking to be insured against medical and personal accident risks. In this policy you must include cover for mountain biking and we recommend that you take out a policy which covers cancellation and baggage.

We work closely with WorldNomads whose policies are specially designed for mountain bike holidays and you can arrange your insurance cover directly with them.

Please note: our mountain bike tour Scotland is a living thing, being influenced by multiple factors such as changing weather conditions, group riding abilities, trail damage, to name a few. Your local guides are experts in guiding mountain bikers in Scotland and will be continually assessing these factors and making tweaks to the itinerary where necessary to ensure that every member of the group has the best possible experience.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey

  • Q. How many people will be in the group?

We only run small group adventures to ensure that everyone has the best experience possible, and there will generally be between five and eight people in each group. The minimum number of people we require to run our mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey is four.

  • Q. What’s the age range of people who come on this holiday?

The mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey caters for a wide age range; typically between 30- and 55-years-old. As long as you have a good level of physical fitness and excellent bike handling skills you will enjoy this mountain bike tour no matter what your age.

  • Q. What style of mountain bike tour is it?

The mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey is a guided mountain bike vacation, ideal for intermediate+ mountain bikers. You’ll ride our guides’ favourite trails, which are technically challenging, in some of the most remote and dramatic scenery in Scotland.

  • Q. How far will we be mountain biking each day?

The distances we cover each day range from 35km to 60km, in accordance with the technical difficulty of the trails: the easier stages of the route are longer. The technical difficulty of the trails increases each day, so you can practice your technique and increase your confidence as you progress through the tour. Each evening your guides will chat with you about the following day’s mountain biking and give you an idea of the sorts of trails you can look forward to. If there’s anything you feel anxious about, your guides will be happy to discuss it with you..

  • Q. Do we have to carry all our gear with us?

No, you only need to carry a 20 litre day pack with you whilst riding. Your luggage will be transferred in the van.

  • Q. What if I come across a section of trail I can’t ride?

Your guide will be very happy to give you some bike skills training during your trip to help improve your confidence and your enjoyment of your mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey. If there is a section that you would prefer not to ride, then you can simply hop off your bike and walk. You won’t be the only one to walk certain sections and it’s not a competition in biking ability; it’s a mountain bike holiday!

  • Q. Who will be guiding us?

Your mountain bike guides are local, qualified, experienced professionals who have a real passion for mountain biking and for the fabulous outdoor playground that is the Highlands of Scotland. Your safety is their number one priority, closely followed by your enjoyment of the tour. They will always be on-hand to answer any questions or requests you may have throughout your trip. Meet your guides in Scotland

  • Q. What sort of accommodation will we be staying in?

On this mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey, Scotland you will be staying in 3 and 4-star B&Bs, guest houses and small hotels. We use the best quality accommodation in each area, and favour small, family-run establishments over large chain hotels. You’ll often be staying in family homes, which gives you the chance to get to know the local people of the Highlands of Scotland.

  • Q. Which meals are included in the tour price?

All breakfasts are included in the price of the tour, and you’ll enjoy fantastic breakfasts at each accommodation which will set you up well for each day in the saddle. Lunch and dinner are not included in the trip price. Each morning we will pick up our own provisions for lunch, and we’ll carry this with us on the trail. We can cater for most dietary requirements. We’ll have dinner in a local pub, café or restaurant in the evening. This means that everyone can choose exactly what they want for lunch and dinner and only pay for their own choices. You should allow around £30-£35 per day for lunches and dinners.

  • Q. What type of mountain bike is best for the trip?

A good quality full suspension mountain bike with around 150mm travel front and rear will be ideal for this mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey. The terrain you will be riding is rough in places and you will feel more comfortable on a full suspension bike for the duration of the trip. We can arrange bike hire for you for the duration of your trip and we have a limited number of fantastic Yetis available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Q. What clothes and kit should I bring?

The weather in Scotland is changeable at any time of the year, so you must make sure that you have a waterproof jacket that you can ride in, and you should also bring plenty of layers of breathable clothing to ensure that you are always warm enough and can remove a layer if you get too hot. You should also bring cycling shorts/trousers, gloves, a warm jacket for the evenings, padded undershorts, and shoes specific for cycling. Read the full kit list to find out what you need to pack for your mountain bike tour Highland Odyssey.

  • Q. Will there be a chance to get laundry done?

We recommend bringing a small bottle of detergent to hand wash kit if needed, and there are drying rooms in some of the accommodation.

  • Q. Can I bring a drone with me?

Unfortunately not. We are working hard to provide each and every customer who rides with us an unparalleled mountain bike experience in every destination we ride. This takes years of experience, riding and planning to get right, and a drone adds a very real danger to the group’s riding experience and health & safety.

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Highland Odyssey Mountain Bike Tour

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