THE history-making 2023 UCI World Cycling Championships come to Glasgow and across Scotland this summer with action across seven disciplines, including track, road, mountain biking and BMX, combined into a single mega-event for the first time.

While you might not be competing for medals or rainbow jerseys, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast on the bike. Here, we pick our favourite and fun cycling adventures from canal towpaths and woodland trails to mettle-testing climbs, scenic loch loops and history-packed routes.

Helix Around Town Tour, Falkirk and Grangemouth

Created out of 310 miles (500km) of cycleway, this 16-mile (26km) circular route begins at The Helix and travels past The Kelpies, The Falkirk Wheel and Callendar Park.

The Helix Around Town Tour (HArTT) comprises a fantastic mix of cycleway, towpath and woodland trail with highlights that include Abbotshaugh Community Woodland, home to art projects including The Human Sun Clock, Celtic Circle and Love & Kisses.

Other delights to check out are Westquarter Glen, a hidden gorge with waterfalls, a stream and tree species such as yew, sycamore, oak, holly and larch. Bird lovers should keep their eyes peeled for dippers, grey wagtails, kingfishers, tawny owls and buzzards.


Caldercruix to Bathgate

Spanning the border between North Lanarkshire and West Lothian, this section of the National Cycle Network Route 75 (NCN 75) is a leisurely 11 miles (17km), with train stations dotted along the way that are easy to reach should a mechanical mishap befall your pedal-powered endeavours.

Starting from Caldercruix train station, make your way east to where the traffic-free cycle path begins. This leads past Hillend Reservoir and on towards Blackridge. On a winter’s day, the stiff wind whipping over the water is glorious for blowing away the cobwebs.

One of the nicest sections comes after you cross the B-road above Blackridge to Westrigg Bing, where young, mixed woodland sits on a former mine. Continue on through Armadale and into Bathgate where you can catch a train back to Glasgow or Edinburgh.


Rob Roy Loop, Stirlingshire

As the name suggests, this family-friendly cycle is a chance to learn more about outlaw, cattle-rustler and Scots folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor. The route covers 7.8 miles (12.5km) through Strathyre Forest and Balquhidder village, set against a backdrop of mountains and lochs.

Following a clockwise loop from the village of Strathyre, landmarks include the River Balvaig (which links Loch Voil to Loch Lubnaig), views of Ben Ledi (classed as a Corbett at 879m/2,884ft) and Creag an Tuirc aka “The Boar’s Rock” (the ancient rallying place of Clan MacLaren).

MacGregor’s grave can be found in Balquhidder Kirkyard, where he is buried beside his wife and two sons. Balquhidder, Strathyre and the hamlet of Kingshouse have places to eat and drink, as well as shops, toilets, cycle parking and accommodation. Suitable for all types of bikes.


The Serpentine, Rothesay, Bute

Cycling aficionados love a hairpin bend and secretly pretending that they are riding through the Alps in the Tour de France. This little road in Rothesay on Bute packs a punch as it zigzags left and right with 14 tight corners from base to summit.

Although less than half a mile in length, the Serpentine is among Scotland’s most technical and challenging cycling routes. It ascends the steep and winding incline of Canada Hill. Be advised: this is one for experienced riders only.

At the the top, you are rewarded with incredible views over Rothesay to the Firth of Clyde and the Cowal Peninsula. For a cafe stop – coffee and cake – check out The Jam Jar on the outskirts of Roseland Holiday Park. Take care on the tricky descent back into Rothesay town centre.


Water of Leith Walkway, Edinburgh

Stretching from Balerno to the Firth of Forth, this 12-mile-long (19km) path is perfect for soaking up a greatest hits of Edinburgh’s charms. The Water of Leith Walkway takes its name from the river which runs through the heart of the city.

Highlights include pretty waterfalls, weirs and wildlife – despite the predominantly urban setting, the likes of grey wagtails, dippers, cormorants, herons, kingfishers and otters can all be spotted here. Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley’s much-beloved series of standing figures, 6 Times, can be seen along the section from Dean Village to Leith.

The photogenic, mural-emblazoned Colinton Tunnel has verses of From A Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson written on the walls, illustrated by colourful paintings. Part of the former Balerno branch line and now revamped thanks to a community art project, it stretches 459ft (140m).


Millport and Great Cumbrae, Ayrshire

It would be remiss to write about cycling and not include this classic. A pedal around the “Island of a Thousand Bicycles”, aka Great Cumbrae, is a rite of passage for many Scots enjoying a trip “Doon the Watter” to the Clyde Riviera.

Millport’s bicycle shops have a cornucopia of wheeled options for hire, including mountain bikes, tricycles, tandems, trailers to carry children or dogs, mobility scooters, and even an eight-seater contraption.

The island’s 10-mile (16km) circumference offers quiet, winding roads, while the hillier, inner route rewards with sweeping panoramas over the Firth of Clyde. The Glaid Stone marks the highest point on Great Cumbrae at 417ft (127m).


The Green Circular, Dundee

A 26-mile (42km) cycle route around Dundee, the Green Circular passes through parkland, alongside the waterfront and takes in many of the city’s famed visitor attractions, such as the V&A Dundee and Camperdown Wildlife Centre.

Almost all of the Green Circular is on shared use paths, although there are some sections on the road. Handy information boards point out historic sites: Seven Arches Viaduct, Finlathen Aqueduct, Claypotts Castle, Broughty Castle, Camperdown House and the Tay Rail Bridge.

In addition, Dundee has a mountain bike trail at Templeton Woods, created and built by Architrail who have designed Olympic and Commonwealth Games courses. Other MTB trails around the city include Dundee Law, Balgay Hill and Camperdown Country Park.


2023 UCI World Cycling Championships, various

If you fancy getting tickets (or checking out the venues in advance), Glasgow will welcome the lion’s share of world-class competition with 2,600 elite riders from 120 countries contesting medals across 11 days from August 3-13.

There will be track cycling at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome; BMX at Kelvingrove Park and Knightswood; and the road races finishing in George Square. Edinburgh will host the start of the men’s road race, with the women’s and under-23 races beginning at Loch Lomond.

The individual time trials will unfold on the streets of Stirling, with the para-cycling road events set for Dumfries and Galloway. The mountain bike marathon, cross-country and downhill races will take place at Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders and the Nevis Range near Fort William.


Loch Rannoch Circular, Perthshire

It took me three attempts to get round Loch Rannoch – the first time I was thwarted by punctures, the second by gale-force winds – but mark my words, it was worth persevering.

The Loch Rannoch Circular, or “The Loop” as it is dubbed by locals, is a 23-mile (37km) circuit with an abundance of beautiful scenery that will make you smile. If arriving by train, it is around six miles (10km) – each way – from Rannoch station to reach the loch.

Among the highlights are sandy beaches perfect for pit stops, wildlife-spotting – deer, pine martens and red squirrels reside among the ancient pines of the Black Wood of Rannoch – and views towards the conical-shaped mountain Schiehallion, a Munro standing 3,553ft (1,083m) high.

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Beecraigs Country Park, West Lothian

The forest trails around Beecraigs Country Park are a joyous spot for cycling, offering restorative tranquillity amid a cathedral of towering Scots pine, Sitka spruce and conifers.

There is a choice of mountain bike routes: green (easy), blue (moderate) and red (difficult), as well as a dedicated skills area. The surrounding Bathgate Hills – nicknamed the “Bathgate Alps” – are a popular haunt among cyclists seeking to challenge themselves on the steep climbs.

The area’s many historical and natural landmarks include Neolithic henge Cairnpapple (a Historic Scotland site open April to September), as well as Cockleroy Hill, the former Hilderston Silver Mine and the distinctive crag-and-tail landform of The Knock.

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