Inverness-Tomatin circuit, Scottish Highlands by Karen Darke

Ride level Experienced cyclist
Distance 40 mi / 64 km
Type of bicycle Road bike
Traffic free
Circular route
Three riders enjoying in the Scottish Highlands

Paralympian gold medal hand cyclist and member of the Adventure Syndicate, Karen Darke reveals a breathtaking circuit of the Cairngorms.

It’s easy to overlook what is on your doorstep. I have only done this ride once, which is baffling given what a great circuit it is. Maybe it’s the long drag uphill from Inverness to Farr and the prospect of climbing to above 1,500 feet over the Garbole, or the lack of cafes on route! But the double-hit of stunning Cairngorm views and the satisfaction of a circular route are fabulous.

If you choose to start in Inverness, try following the B861 out of town to Inverarnie, or Route 7 up to Culloden and out to Daviot. Whatever your start, head for the village of Farr and after it turn left, climbing through forest, passing by the end of Loch Farr, and following the glen up and over the moorland and the Garbole. Your hard work is done, so enjoy descending a couple of switchbacks to the lush valley beside the River Findhorn, then follow the river through the flat valley floor, downstream towards Tomatin. You might be lucky to find a hotel or shop open in the small village, but don’t count on it.

The A9 is a hazardous road for motorists, let alone cyclists, so don’t be tempted to conveyer-belt yourself home on it! Follow the National Cycle Network Route 7 northwards, passing by the Tomatin Distillery, and brushing the main road before crossing it and picking up the quite B9154 to Moy. It will let meander you back to Daviot, where you have a choice of routes home. You can bear right at Craggie, following Route 7 onto the southern side of Nairnside, where you cross to Culloden Moor (and a visit to the battlefield or its café should you fancy), and down to Inverness. Alternatively, turn left and left again by the farm track that takes you through a tunnel under the A9, and back along the B851 towards Inverarnie, where you bear right for a gentle climb and panoramic descent into Inverness.