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Great Scottish bike rides: The Badger Divide

You'll be treated to stunning scenery on the Badger Divide. Credit: FionaOutdoors

If you are looking for a great Scottish cycling route that takes you through some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery, the Badger Divide is worth considering. Let us tell you more about this bike ride that links two cities, Inverness and Glasgow. We can also help you with logistics and luggage transfers.

The Badger Divide starts at Inverness Castle. Credit: Dave Conner

What is the Badger Divide?

The route, extending to around 327km from Inverness to Glasgow (or vice versa), was originally conceived by Scottish cyclist Stu Allen. It is a a mostly off-road cycle that is suited to gravel or mountain bikes.

The suggested timescale for most good cyclists is from two to five days to complete the Badger Divide, although Donnie Campbell, of Inverness, set a Fastest Known Time for the route from south to north of 19 hours, 14 minutes and 16 seconds in 2021.

It is also a good idea to extend the trip by adding in a rest day or two, or taking more time to explore places along the route.

Suggested 5-day ride of the Badger Divide

Beautiful Loch Ness. Credit: Pixabay

Day 1: Inverness to Fort Augustus

Starting at Inverness Castle, the route heads though parkland to reach the Caledonian Canal. After a short cycle along the towpath, you head out of the city to join the Great Glen Way.

The Great Glen Way is a popular long-distance trail from Inverness to Fort William and it’s here that you start to become immersed in a fabulous Scottish landscape. You’ll cycle the west side of iconic Loch Ness with superb views of surrounding hills and mountains to accompany you.

The route takes you to the town of Fort Augustus, at the southern end of the famous loch. The day includes plenty of climbs and lovely descents.

Zig-zags on the Corrieyairack Pass. Credit: Nic Bullivant

Day 2. Fort Augustus to Loch Laggan

The terrain is very different today, especially as ride over the infamous Corrieyairack Pass. The path was once a military road, built in the 1700s, and it is now a rough track. In places, it’s also a steep challenge.

However, the best plan is to take your time and enjoy the superb views. If you need to get off to push the bike uphill, just do so and look around at the landscape. The summit of the pass is at 770m elevation and feels spectacularly remote.

You will want to take care on the descent, which can be tricky but mostly it’s an amazing freewheel towards Loch Laggan. Again, you’ll love the vistas.

You'll ride past Loch Ossian at Corrour. Credit: FionaOutdoors

Day 3. Loch Laggan to Loch Rannoch

The landscape changes again as you embark on day three from loch to loch. The route mostly follows fantastic gravel roads and although there are some hills, it’s rarely so steep that you need to get off your bike to push.

You’ll pass through the wonderfully remote estate of Corrour and past Loch Ossian, where you might be surprised to find a station seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

If you watched the first Trainspotting film in the 1990s, you will recall this railway station – the highest in the UK – which was the scene of the movie characters, Renton, Tommy, Sick Boy and Spud, who “arrive in the great outdoors” at Corrour.

The station is one on the famously beautiful West Highland Railway Line and, brilliantly, it also has a restaurant at Corrour Station House. Stop for a bite to eat and enjoy more amazing mountain views before riding on towards Loch Rannoch.

Loch Rannoch. Credit: Russel Wills

Day 4. Loch Rannoch to Callander

You’ll start today by cycling on a rough track before joining some lovely tarmac for a while. In this part of the country, even the road sections are wonderfully scenic.

Killin is a lovely village to stop for lunch, particularly around the waterfalls towards the southern end of the settlement.

After Killin you’ll cycle on an old railway path for a while. You have the option to tackle Glen Ample, or not, but many do because the rewards are worth the challenge.

Both options rejoin at picturesque Loch Lubnaig before heading to the tourist town of Callander for the night.

Loch Venachar. Credit: Callum Black

Day 5. Callander to Glasgow

The day begins with a ride on the southern shore of Loch Venechar before heading up through the Achray forest. Maybe you will fancy trying some goat ice cream at this stage? If so, head to Achray Farm (open late May to October only).

From here, there is well-made gravel roads through more forestry, before joining narrower footpaths as the route twists and turns down towards the town of Aberfoyle. There are plenty of choices here for more refreshments.

The Badger Divide heads south out of Aberfoyle on gentler terrain. Take some time to discover an incredible Victorian era of engineering, for example the pipes of the Loch Katrine waterworks.

After a while you’ll join up with the famous West Highland Way. Things will then start to flatten off, but not completely.

Mugdock Country Park provides the perfect finish to the main off-road parts of the route and from here you’ll navigate streets and paths to reach the the Kelvin Walkway, which takes you all the way to Glasgow and the finish at Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

The Badger Divide finish at Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow. Credit: Mary and Angus Hogg

​How to book to ride the Badger Divide

Find out more about how to enjoy a supported ride on the Badger Divide.

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