1. Tyndrum to Port Appin

Fortify yourself at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum (whisky, scones, fry-ups, stovies, boiled sweets, Highland Toffee) in preparation of a 50-mile cycle through some of Scotland’s most jaw-dropping landscapes. The A82 to Fort William isn’t exactly one of Scotland’s quieter roads, so make sure you are well visible. On a still, crisp winter’s day the landscape is mesmerising – millpond lochs and lochans reflecting the mountains, big sky, wild open moorland, long straight stretches of road for building up speed and some challenging climbs. And that’s before you get to the glowering splendour of Glen Coe. Cycle on through, on to Ballachulish, framed by blue-tinged mountains then head for Oban down the side the eastern flank of Loch Linnhe. Turn of the A828 at Appin village and take the twisty scenic coastal road to Port Appin, with the Morvern Hills in the distance, Castle Stalker in the foreground. At the end of the road, take a breather at the Pierhouse Hotel, opposite the island of Lismore.

2. Glentress, Borders

Attracting riders from all over the UK and beyond, Glentress sits in the Tweed Valley, a mile and a half east of Peebles on the A72. One of the 7stanes biking centres, this is mountain bike heaven, offering a series of trails from two easy green routes of around two miles, through a moderate blue 10 miler to a difficult 11-mile red, one challenging black over 18 miles, and an orange extreme biking freeride route, best suited to the Danny MacAskills of this world.

3. Hebridean Way, Outer Hebrides

The new Hebridean Way Cycling route, which celebrates its first birthday next month, is a fantastic 185-mile ride crossing 10 islands in the archipelago. Following part of the National Cycle Network Route 780, this long-distance route spans the length of the spectacular Outer Hebrides island chain, taking in some paradise beaches, the Calanish Standing Stones and an imposing Stevenson lighthouse. Starting at Vatersay in the south and ending at the Butt of Lewis in the north (or vice versa if you wish), the route can be done in sections or cycled in a oner over six days. Cyclist Mark Beaumont who launched the route last year did it in 24 hours.

4. Lerwick to Scalloway, Shetland

This short six-mile cycle takes you east to west from the principle town of Lerwick to the ancient capital of Scalloway. Enjoy the stunning island scenery as you cut through a ridge of hills and across wild moorland before being rewarded with a panoramic view of Scalloway, its ruined castle and the many islands which lie to the south and west of the town. Begin and end your cycle at a museum: the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick and the Scalloway Museum, which will greatly enhance your appreciation of Shetland.

5. Devilla Forest, Fife

Devilla Forest can be found on the A985 between Kincardine and Dunfermline and offers a good six-mile loop of mainly flat easy forest trails that pass through vast expanses of pine woodland. This is gentle terrain for fledgling off-road bikers just finding their feet. Not too demanding, it’s good for kids too.

6. Assynt Achiltiebuie Circular, Highlands

A stunning but challenging loop in this dramatic north-west corner of Scotland takes cyclists through some of the country's wildest and most idyllic landscapes. There are myriad mountains to marvel at, such as Sula Bheinn, Cùl Mòr, Suilven and Stac Pollaidh, as well as tranquil beaches and shimmering lochs. Pick a nice day – it's just over 70 miles in total – and depart from Achiltibuie. If you're of a decent standard, this should take you about seven hours.

7. Isle of Bute, Argyll

There are plenty of magnificent sea views as you travel around this beautiful island just a short ferry ride from Wemyss Bay. Try the 23-mile loop around the perimeter of the island, or if you fancy a more challenging climb, check out the Serpentine up Canada Hill just behind Rothesay. One of Scotland’s most technical hill climbs, this category 2 job has no less than 14 hairpin bends and is only for those with sturdy hearts and legs.

8. Nethy Bridge to Aviemore, Highlands

Part of the Speyside Way which runs from Buckie on the north east coast to Aviemore, this final ten-mile stretch from Nethy bridge to Aviemore is as beautiful a cycle ride as you will find in Scotland. Quiet roads, heather moorland, ancient pine forests and stunning views of the Cairngorms make this a really special place to immerse yourself in nature and stillness (in the right weather) with lots of opportunities to spot osprey, deer and red squirrels. Although this area is stunning in the autumn, on a bright winter’s day with snow dusting the top of the Cairngorms, this is Scotland at its best.

9. The Crinan Canal, Argyll

This is a nice easy nine-mile cycle from the village of Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne along a pretty canal towpath to the tiny hamlet of Crinan. The canal is a popular short cut for boats heading to the west coast from the Firth of Clyde, so there's always plenty to see. Originally it was a route for puffers travelling between Glasgow and the villages of the West Highlands. After you pass Lochgilphead, the path takes you to Cairnbaan, just south of Kilmartin Glen and the ancient kingdom of Dalriada. Cycle on to Bellanoch passing the Moine Mhor National Nature Reserve and then it is just over a mile to Crinan, a pretty, well-kept village which sits overlooking the Sound of Jura opposite Duntrune Castle. The Crinan hotel serves a good lunch in the bar and does fancy fine dining in the evenings.

10. Tarbert to Claonaig, Argyll

The extraordinarily scenic Kintyre Way zig-zags for 100 miles back and forth across the Kintyre peninsula from Tarbert down to Campeltown and then over to Machrihanish. For this 11-mile section of the route, start your cycle at the ruin of Tarbert Castle that sits up behind this harbourside village at the head of the Mull of Kintyre, then follow the path as it climbs up to an area of mixed forest before crossing a plateau with superb views across the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran. Then there's a long descent to the village of Skipness followed by a tiny single track road to Claonaig where you can catch the ferry over to Lochranza in the summer. On a cold sunny winter’s day, this is a spectacular place to be.


1. Elie to Crail, Fife

Once described by King James II as a “fringe of gold on a beggar’s mantle” the East Neuk of Fife is much-loved part of Scotland known for his bright fields of yellow rapeseed, picturesque fishing villages and everchanging seascapes. A stroll along this section of the Fife Coastal Path is a gentle 11 miles from well-to-do Elie to the fishing village of Crail, passing through St Monans, Pittenweem and Anstruther. Start at the Stevenson lighthouse at Elie Ness, then head east, hugging the shore, passing Newark Castle just before St Monans and the old outdoor swimming pool at Pittenweem, the village that hosts its own arts festival every August. End your walk at Crail with its pretty whitewashed buildings that contrast with the mottled red stone of the harbour and fishermen’s buildings. And look out for the tiny wee shed where you can buy fresh crab and lobster to take home for your tea.

2. Puck’s Glen, Argyll

If you’re looking to spark children’s imaginations with a walk in an enchanted forest, you would be hard pushed to find a more magical place than Puck’s Glen, just north of Dunoon on the A815. This shadowy dell is all trailing ferns, mossy hummocks, tumbling waterfalls, rock pools and little wooden bridges. Named after the mischievous character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it does feel like some otherworldly realm. From here you can reach the Upper Puck’s Glen Loop, link up to the Big Trees Walk, Benmore Botanic Garden and Kilmun Arboretum.

3. Tinto, South Lanarkshire

On the A73 between Lanark and Biggar, Tinto is small hill in the scheme of things (707m at its cairn), but the views are mighty, looking south towards the rolling hills of the Southern Uplands in the Borders, north-west to the Clyde Valley, the Campsies and the Trossachs and north-east to the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh. It’s not a difficult walk – there’s a good wide path amongst the heather all the way up – but it will work the legs and lungs for four and a half miles. It should take around two to two and half hours, although crazy people run up and down this hill every November for fun, and in 30 minutes apparently.

4. Balmaha to Rowardennan, Argyll

The famous West Highland Way runs 96 miles from Milngavie near Glasgow, past Loch Lomond to Crianlarich, Tyndrum, through Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, Kinlochleven and ending at Fort William. It can all be broken up into very do-able chunks, one of which is a four-hour jaunt up the eastern side of Loch Lomond from the marina at Balmaha to Rowardennan at the foot of Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro and most-climbed mountain. The path criss-crosses the tarmac road from time to time then alternates between the pretty shoreline and woodland, but for most of it, the shimmering water of Loch Lomond will be within your view.

5. Arisaig to Camusdarach, Highlands

A stone’s throw from the B8008, the old Road to the Isles, Camusdarach Beach is sometimes referred to as Ben’s Beach, after key scenes were shot there for Bill Forsyth’s magical 1983 film Local Hero. On a fine summer's day a band of crystal white sand fringes turquoise water, where the views over to Rum, Eigg and Muck and the shark-tooth Cuilins on Skye to the north are just sublime. It’s an easy five mile walk from the pretty village of Arisaig, where visitors can stock up for a picnic or take a boat over the islands. A mixture of rocky coves, fine white sands, grassy paths, dunes and possibly Scotland’s most picturesque golf course at Traigh (the gaelic word for beach), there is plenty to divert walkers from picnics on the beach to a dip in the Atlantic to rockpooling. If you stick to the route without a detour, this spendid walk should take about two and a half hours.

6. North Berwick to Dunbar, East Lothian

Part of the celebrated John Muir Way, that runs from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east, where Muir was born, this section of the route covers a distance of 14 miles starting at the car park for the Berwick Law, a volcanic plug of a hill that sits up behind the prosperous seaside town of North Berwick. The path takes walkers through lush farmland and woodland with views over to the Lammermuir Hills, up over Drylaw Hill to East Linton, an old mill village with the distinctive east coast red pantile roofs. From there the path goes down to the vast Hedderwick Sands at the estuary of the River Tyne, then along the coast to Belhaven Bay past bright red rocky cliffs and into the town of Dunbar. If you're keeping pace, it should take about five and a half hours.

7. Crathes Castle & Estate, Highlands

A handsome 16th-century tower house in the heart of Aberdeenshire, Crathes Castle’s 240 hectares of gardens, woodland walks and rolling countryside is perfect for people whose idea of a good walk is something gentle through a beautifully sculpted landscape. Beyond the exquisite gardens, the estate (once part of the Royal Forest of Drum), offers six trails through mature woodland, a pine plantation and ancient sycamore trees, with views across to Banchory and the opportunity to spy a variety of wildlife including herons, wagtails, dippers, wild salmon and red squirrels. For children (and adults too) there’s a chance to swing from the trees with exhilarating Go Ape! experience. There’s also a picnic area, a walled garden, a millpond, a shop and a cafe in the grounds.

8. The Fairy Glen, Uig, Skye

Just off the A87 near the Uig Hotel, a small road signposted for Sheader and Balnaknock will lead you a mile or so to a strange green place called the Fairy Glen. It looks like it’s been fashioned by the hand of some benign giant. Almost perfect conical-shaped mounds line up beneath velvety looking cliffs, beyond which stands a make-believe castle. On closer inspection it is just a hunk of rock that manages to resemble a perfect castle ruin: Castle Ewen. In reality, this Hobbity landscape was actually created by a series of landslides and later eroded and smoothed by glaciation. In turn bizarre, delightful and enchanting, this mythical-looking place is due its turn any time now as a Game of Thrones location.

9. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

It’s a long walk in to Sandwood Bay from Blairmore just south of Loch Aisir in Sutherland, but it is worth the eight mile trudge over peaty moorland just to stand and look out over the Atlantic on one of Scotland’s loveliest and remotest beaches. The surf pounds foreboding dark cliffs rising up at the southern end, where a solitary stack of rock stands erect just opposite. On a fine day, the water glitters turquoise against the white sand; in the gloom of winter, it’s not hard to believe local tales that the beach is haunted; mermaids, ghost horses and the spirits of vikings and long-gone sailors dashed on the rocks before the Cape Wrath lighthouse was built, are all said to inhabit the beach from time to time. Don’t linger too long near the old ruined cottage where strange goings on have been reported down the years. But at least you’ll probably have the beach to yourself

10. Loch Katrine, Argyll

Deep in the heart of the Trossachs, Loch Katrine is famous not just for its exceptionally pretty looks but also as the city of Glasgow’s main water supply since 1859. Jump on the Sir Walter Scott paddle steamer – named after the writer who made the area famous thanks to his novels – and alight at Stronachlachar Pier at the north-western end of the loch for a stirring 13-mile walk back around the northern shore to the Trossachs pier where you got on. The private road around Loch Katrine is owned by Scottish Water and is used only by walker and cyclists, and winds around the loch passing through beach, oak and birch woods, tumbling waterfalls and the tiny settlements of Strone, Edra and Letter. Look out for the grassy peninsula at Brenachoille Point, which is a lovely place to stop for a picnic.