Drumbeg loop, Scottish Highlands by Karen Darke
Want to experience some of the best views in Scotland? Let local cyclist — and Paralympic gold medallist, and Adventure Syndicate member — Karen Darke show you this super-scenic loop.
Visit Scotland bills this as one of the most scenic roads in Scotland, and certainly the most hilly, with a grinding gradient of 25%! The loop takes you through uniquely Scottish landscape: the beaches are undeniably golden and the scenery undeniably raw, an impressive tapestry of rock, sand, heather and sky.
I have ridden this route with a start and finish in the harbour of Lochinver, famed for its tasty, though quite pricey pies. Follow signs for the Kylesku Tourist Route, along the B869 towards Achmelvich and Clachtoll. I’ve long fancied staying in the rustic hostel on Achmelvich beach or the glistening sands of Clachtoll beach campsite and both could be good options as a base for riding this route. My favourite is to ride this loop clockwise so that the tougher, steeper sections of the ride come earlier!
From Clachtol head on towards Stoer. On my handbike I’ve never felt sufficiently confident to explore the minor roads leading towards the Point of Stoer, as well as tackle the Drumbeg hills, but they are worth a ride. By the time you reach the sands of Clashnessie Bay you’re likely to feel that you’ve pedaled further than the mere 10 miles you have, but the steepest of climbs has to be tackled if you want to reach the hotel or the store in Drumbeg village. An exhilarating 25% descent take you down to Loch Nedd (I knew there was a reason why I prefer this route clockwise!), and dramatic views of the mountain of Quinag and its impressive geology.
The quieter road joins the A894 just south of Kylesku, where a steady climb over the mountains then plunges you down to Loch Assynt, just west of the ruined Ardvreck Castle. The way home though is right, a pleasantly level ride back along the A837 along the loch towards Lochinver. I am always ravenous by the time I reach the sailing boats in the harbour, but the Fisherman’s Mission, the pie shop or one of the other cafés will help you fuel up again. It’s a cracker of a road, and a bike trip I always feel happy to have tackled!