This 115km loop is a long way from anywhere but I guess that’s one reason why it’s so amazing. It is a hidden gem of a road route that should be on all cyclists to do lists.
Apparently my secret route is in some guide book so it’s not an exclusive secret loop, but this has to be in the top handful of the best rides I have done in the UK. Hard to rank routes but certainly comparable with my other classic UK routes like the six passes in the Lake District (AKA Fred Whitton Challenge) or my favourite tour of the borders route which is stunning, this is particular route is different but just as good.
This is the route to follow, of course there are many good variations to extend or shorten the loop there are no bad roads up here:
It follows exceptionally quiet roads that seem to be alive following its sudden dips and turns past huge dark hulking mountains or winding alongside rocky coastlines. It then cruises past large sandy beaches that match the best of Devon and Cornwall. Finally as a dramatic end it follows a loch with a quintessentially Scottish ruined castle on an island.
The weather might not always be warm sunshine up here but that adds to the drama and experience!
The route starts just north of Ullapool and starts by turning off the main road at Drumrunie and take in the road to Achnahaird, this is a swooping rollercoaster of a road with views of Stac Pollaidh and it’s mountain neighbours. Traffic can be annoying here in mid-summer but on a quiet day you can fly along.
From the end of Loch Bad a’ Ghaill take the right hand fork and follow the coastal road north to Lochinver, this section offers more great mountain views before passing what feels like prehistoric landscapes with stunted wind blown tress and exposed rock combined with no sign of humans bar a smelly fish farm and the odd caravan park signposted.
From the metropolis of Lochinver take the road north again up towards Stoer, more quiet singletrack road sections but a few more houses along here which doesn’t take anything away.
This section was bleak in the rainstorm we had but still amazing to ride through. You can detour to the Stoer headland with the sea stacks on display.
Otherwise take the road east past the delightfully named Clashnessie, there’s two cafes and a soap/perfume shop in Drumbeg that fit well for a rest stop.
Then it’s a right hand turn south, rejoining the bigger road from Newton to Inchnadamph, not that it gets busy still! It goes past the appropriately named Ardvreck Castle on the beautiful loch Assynt. Following the road past more cliff outcrops, spot Quinag, Carnisp, Sulven and other iconic Scottish mountains and watch soaring buzzards (or if your luckily one of the 8 breeding Golden eagles in the area) all a thoroughly delightful way to end the ride.
It’s then a question of reaching whereever you parked before sunset, not that sunset is a bad spectacle up here: