Highland & Island 800 

HOWL ultimate Highland tour

Forget the NC500, if you want to see its highlights, cut out the boring bits and add in The gorgeous A82, Glen Coe, Mallaig, The Isle of Skye plus loads, loads more. This has to be for you.

Okay, so this is 810 miles, around 300 miles more, but we are counting the miles from Tarbet, less than hour from central Glasgow and the route finishes within similar reach of Edinburgh.

Allow at least 4 days to cover the distance.

As usual there is the interactive map and a GPX - we've also added a GPX if you wish to do it in the reverse direction.

Our ride starts in Tarbet, a small village situated on the west shores of Loch Lomond on a small neck of land that separates it from Loch Long.

Surrounding the village are the stunning hills known as the Arrochar Alps, which are popular with cyclists, hill walkers and climbers alike.

The pier at Tarbet provides a popular boarding point to join any of the pleasure cruises which ply Loch Lomond. 

The first section of our route guides us from Tarbet on the A82 to Fort William 67 miles to the north. The ride though will first take us through the most famous Glen in Scotland, Glen Coe. At almost 8 miles in length, with the floor of the glen being less than 700 metres wide, it was formed at the end of the ice age by a retreating glacier.

Synonymous with the massacre of 1692, when an estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by Scottish government forces, allegedly for failing to pledge allegiance to the new monarchs, William III and Mary II.

Today fortunately peace prevails, Stop and take a photo of the “Three Sisters” Viewing point (marked on map).


Onich is where I stayed on my first visit to the Highlands,  it was way back in the early 1980’s but I still recall vividly the long summer evenings and warm weather…..but be warned Onich has an average rainfall over 80 inches per year. So pack a mac!

There are plenty of places to find accommodation here if you wanted to explore this area further.

The route takes us north to Fort William, the closest centre of population to Ben Nevis. It is in an enviable position standing on the shores of Loch Linnhe. The Ben Nevis visitor centre is less than a two mile diversion and is marked on our map. 

We will head to Skye continuing our journey north up the A82. We'll soon enter the south part of The Great Glen but we have a choice of route to take us onto the island.

1) Take the road to the Kyle of Lochalsh and use the Skye bridge. Stop off at Spean Bridge and visit the Commando Memorial.

2) Turn left at Inverlochy onto the A830 and take the Calmac ferry. Personally if time allows it would be the ferry for me, not just for the experience of the sea travel, but the road to Mallaig is a stunner. As well as the Glenfinnan Monument and Viaduct (I'm told it has been become very popular to visit as it was featured in Harry Potter). The silver sand beaches further down the coast are unbelievable.If you plan to use The Skye Bridge then  Spean Bridge is enroute and the monument is a must stop and take a picture spot.

Glenfinnan Viaduct a photo I took in 1982 and below the Commando Memorial Spean Bridge

The Isle of Skye

Don't be deceived. you'll cover at least 140 miles if you want to see this island, so I'd recommend at an overnight stay or two.  The maps contains loads of info on campsites and places of interest. I've included those must see spots, some of which will require a short hike off the bike. Obviously most of these places of interest require a short diversion from our route. Plan to visit the ones that interest you the most.

Elgol beach is way off our route - in fact it seems to be off most tourist's routes. If you have time for a diversion it is marked on the map, tucked away in the south west corner.