Let’s face it; everyone is looking for an excuse to cycle more frequently, and most bikes are egregiously underused. Whether you have an innocuous hybrid sulking in the garage or a mud-spattered, 27 speed beast raring to grind up a new summit, it’s time to dig out the spare inner tube, oil up your gears and proudly hoist a loaded up bike rack onto the back of the car. Breadalbane is a wonderland for cyclists, and the Breadalbane Rings are its star attraction.
The Trail Cycling Ring can be enjoyed in bite-size sections, and the gentle 25 mile run from Tyndrum to Killin is one of its easier options for families. This is hillwalker territory, so be prepared to share the trail, especially when navigating the West Highland Way portion of the trip. Top tip: bring a pair of binoculars and take a little time out to spot buzzards, kestrels and the majestic golden eagles which have been known to glide the skies above.
Hardcore mountain bikers won’t be disappointed either. Blaze a trail on the gruelling Bridge of Balgie to Tyndrum section, a relief-heavy track which takes in river and stream crossings, and often damp, bleak weather. Be advised there may not be any phone reception for part of the ride, so always travel in groups of at least two, and bring plenty of water and snacks to replenish your quickly depleting energy. Those who pursue it will find remuneration in the dramatic views of West Highland Railway line, crumbling old viaduct and the mist-cloaked hillsides.
For cyclists who prefer riding a smooth asphalt surface to craggy contours, the Road Cycling Ring transverses no fewer than one hundred glorious miles through the beautiful hillscapes, lochs and tree-shaded roads connecting Crieff, Aberfeldy and Killin,. Bagging this chimera in a day will demand stamina, fitness and drinking water by the gallon, so limiting yourself to a time frame is recommended only for those hounding a serious personal challenge.
If you prefer to kick back and enjoy the tourist attractions along the way, spread the enjoyment out over a two or three day mini-break: there’s more than enough to keep you occupied if you’re new to the area. Learn about Iron Age loch dwelling in the stunning surroundings of the Loch Tay Crannog Centre, where you can hire a dugout canoe, or learn how to hand-kindle a fire. Closer to the Comrie area of the trail, you can while away an hour or two with cute critters like goats and pot-bellied pigs in Auchingarrich Wildlife Park. You can even hand-feed them oats, if you don’t mind a bit of llama drool.
There are also plenty of spots to indulge in a little light refreshment, whether it’s a crisp fish supper in Aberfeldy, a swift half of locally brewed craft beer in the Mains of Taymouth Courtyard in Kenmore, or a dinner on the wooden decking of its beautiful Waterfront restaurant. If you’re staying the night, the accommodation options are endless. Bunk down in a quirky wigwam or glamping dome at Loch Tay Highland lodges, where you’ll get the chance to test your newly-acquired fire-making skills in your own little fire pit or wood-burning stove. If this sounds a little primitive, ease those weary bones with a dunk in the jacuzzi of the Moness Resort, then splurge on a massage before snuggling down in one of its plush rooms. Odds are your slumber will be as sound as a loch-side stone.