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The Road Cycling Ring

Summary

Distance

100 miles

Total ascent

1,300m (4,265 ft)

Time

4 - 8+ hours

 

100 miles of pure cycling heaven through the very best of Scotland's High Ground. Completed in one day, it's an achievement to be crossed off the bucket list.

Take it in easier stages and it can be enjoyed by any road-competent cyclist - the Ring of Breadalbane Explorer bus, which operates through the summer months, makes it possible to be dropped off and picked up at many points on the route.

Tell us about your Rings of Breadalbane.

The Essentials

Name

The Breadalbane Road Cycling Ring

Grade

Completing the full Ring in one day is something for the serious cyclist, requiring fitness and stamina. However many parts of the route make a great ride for any standard of cyclist who is happy on the road. The seasonal Explorer bus - which carries bikes free - enables parts of the Ring to be completed as linear routes.

Distance

100 miles (approx)

Total ascent

1,300m (approx)

Highest point

556m

Time

4-8+ hours ride time. For reference, Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) completed 100 miles in 8 hours, but without our hills!

Terrain

Mostly scenic, quiet 'C' roads. Some sections of 'A' road.

Getting There

The obvious starting points are Killin, Aberfeldy or Crieff. There are regular bus services to Killin and Crieff from Stirling and to Aberfeldy and Crieff from Perth. The Explorer bus enables any cyclist and their bike to access a preferred start point on the Ring, notably at Crieff, Comrie, St Fillans, Lochearnhead, Killin, Aberfeldy, Kenmore, Amulree and Gilmerton. 

Route Description

The Ring Road Cycle is described in a clockwise direction from the market town of Crieff, the largest settlement enroute. The Ring can of course be cycled in the opposite direction and starting from any point along the route. 

Crieff - Killin

From James Square in the centre of Crieff start down King Street/ the A822 and after crossing the bridge over the River Earn and passing Crieff Visitor Centre continue along the (very straight) A822 to the top of a small hill where Drummond Castle Gardens are signposted to the right. Take this turn onto the unclassified road leading past the spectacular Drummond Castle Gardens (open 1-6pm May - Oct). Continue past the castle to a junction and turn left back onto the public road and continue south to the next junction. Turn right for Blairinroar. This beautiful hidden glen is home to a multitude of standing stones and the remains of stone circles. After about 4 miles, turn north along the B827 towards Comrie. After one mile on the B827 you will pass the entrance to Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre (great cafe 500m up the bumpy access track). A mile further on lies the entrance to the former WW2 prisoner of war camp at Cultybraggan, which now has a fasinating exhibition and self-guided tour. The B827 then continues to Comrie, on the Highland Boundary Fault and noted for its earth tremors, hence it's nickname, the "Shaky Toon".

Comrie has a wide range of services, food and accommodation. Notable amongst these is Comrie Croft - 2 miles back along the main road towards Crieff (this is also a shorter alternative route) - which has a fabulous wee bike shop, including bikes to hire, repair workshop and the Tea Garden Cafe (open Easter - October. Open 7 days a week from 8am - 6pm. They'll even deliver hire bikes to your preferred starting point.

Leave Comrie going west along the A85 to the edge of the village and then by taking the bridge over the River Earn signposted to The Ross. The road then splits: take the route to the right, along the south bank of the Earn to Dalchonzie (visit the Farm Food Shop for great jams and delicacies, especially the lemon drizzle cake) but before you set off, take the other road from the split to The Ross and visit the tiny Earthquake House in the middle of a field, where you can see a working seismograph. After Dalchonzie turn right onto the A85. As you approach St Fillans, look out on the left for the imposing rock on top of which lies the remains of Dundurn Hill Fort, a possible Pictish royal fort. On the right, above the abandoned railway line, is the painted "Crocodile Rock".

St Fillans lies on the eastern end of Loch Earn. There is easy cycling now on the quiet south side of the loch with lovely birch woods and loch views. Shortly before reaching Lochearnhead the road passes above the restored Edinample Castle and from the bridge you can clamber down to view the Falls of Edinample. At the junction with the A84 turn right and continue through Lochearnhead for your first significant climb of the day - Glen Ogle (187m) - though its a fairly easy gradient. From the top of Glen Ogle admire the view in front of the tarmachan Ridge before descending to Killin via the turn-off at Lix Toll.

Killin - Aberfeldy

Killin is a wonderful spot with the atmospheric Falls of Dochart at the top end of the village and the useful Killin Outdoor Centre & Shop (hire, spares and repairs) lower down. Continue on the A827 out of Killin past the Bridge of Lochay Hotel and Tearoom, with increasingly expansive views across Loch Tay to Ben Chonzie. In 3 miles pass Cruachan Farm camp site and restaurant and a short distance after Cruachan turn left and commence the second biggest climb on the ring (375m): the single track road past the National Trust for Scotland’s Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve car park to the Lochan na Lairige dam.  The information boards at both the NTS car park and Lochan na Larige dam are worth a look, with interesting information on the work of the NTS National Nature Reserve and how the Breadalbane Hydro scheme works.

Cycle on past Lochan na Lairige to the col at 565m (1,855ft) before dropping down to Glen Lyon, one of the most stunning descents in Perthshire. At the junction turn right. Stop for soup or snacks in the Glenlyon Tearoom at Bridge of Balgie Post Office, one of the most picturesque food stops en route and with great food too.

Descend Glen Lyon, Scotland's longest glen and watch out for rare Golden Eagles often sighted around these parts. Just before the road turns south and exits the glen the River Lyon narrows and you can see MacGregor’s Leap where Gregor MacGregor of Glenstrae leapt across the river to escape pursuit.

At the foot of Glen Lyon turn left through the hamlet of Fortingall, a lovely place famous for thatched cottages, the oldest living tree in Europe and a Plague Pit. Fortingall was also, according to local legend, the brithplace of Pontious Pilate. You will see a group of Neolithic standing stones on your right as you leave the village.  Continue to Keltneyburn where the Smithy produces amazing metal art work, including full-size animals. Turn right onto the B846 and continue west as far as Weem. On the way several short but worthy detours include the hamlet of Dull (twinned with Boring in the USA), Highland Safaris (another great cafe and bike facilities, among other attractions) and Castle Menzies.

At Weem turn right with the B846 and pass over the River Tay on General Wade’s 1733 bridge to enter the bustling town of Aberfeldy, home to the renowned Watermill bookshop, gallery and cafe and Aberfeldy Distillery, where you can visit Dewar’s World of Whisky.  This bustling small town has several great places to eat, points of historical interest and a recently refurbished art deco cinema called The Birks.

Aberfeldy - Crieff

From Aberfeldy return westwards towards Kenmore on the A827. You will pass Bolfracks Estate and Gardens and after around 1.5 miles, on the south side of the road, you will see the Croft Moraig stone circle, an exceptionally fine example of a circle with an inner and outer ring.

Your next destination is Kenmore, a picturesque village at the head of Loch Tay.  In Kenmore you can buy local produce and enjoy ice cream at the Courtyard or visit Kenmore Hotel where, in the lounge bar, you can still see a poem composed by Robert Burns on Kenmore Bridge and written by him above the fireplace. Retrace your tracks out of the village the same way you came in and at the corner where a minor road starts down the south side of Loch Tay turn right off the main road then immediately left for a minor road which immediately starts climbing steeply. You are about to begin the biggest, steepest climb on the whole Ring (410m) so if you would like a very worthwhile diversion first pop a little further along the south lochside road first to the Scottish Crannog Centre and Taymouth Marina. The spectacular climb rises through mixed woodland summiting at 535m (1,755ft) on the col leading to Glen Quaich. It is a hard cycle but the views from the high moors north across Loch Tay to the mountains are magnificent, especially that of Schiehallion. Continue on across the moors and down to Glen Quaich, passing Loch Freuchie, and arriving at Amulree where regrettably the Tearoom has closed but in season the Explorer bus can be picked up if you are really exhausted!

Turn right on to the A822 through the Sma’ Glen where the hillsides display stunning shades of purple when the heather is in bloom at end August and early in September.  Just before arriving at Gilmerton turn right onto the quiet back road to Monzie and Glenturret Distillery, home to The Famous Grouse Experience and another possible refreshment stop.  At the A85 turn left for the last few metres past the magnificent MacCrosty Park and your starting point in the centre of Crieff.  

 

 

Profile

157.5 km, n/a

Maps are intended for guidance only and assume a start-finish in Crieff. Zoom in and move the map around to see the route in more detail.
Click here to see a full screen Ordnance Survey map of the route


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