- From - to: Oban to Campbeltown
- Distance: 121 miles (challenge ride)
- Terrain: Mostly on-road
- Access: Train stations at Oban and Taynuilt. Ferries at Kennacraig, Claonaig and Campbeltown
- National Cycle Network: National Route 78
The National Cycle Network from Oban to Campbeltown offers adventurous cyclists the chance to explore Lorn, Knapdale and the spectacular Kintyre peninsula. Along the way, there are fantastic views of the islands of Jura and Arran, with pretty harbours, castles, abbeys and ancient stones to explore. An extensive network of forest trails provides further cycling opportunities in the area.
The route can be reached by train at Oban and Taynuilt, and the network of ferries that run to and from Kintyre offers opportunities for creating your own island-hopping tours. For more information about ferry services to and from the route visit the Kintyre Express and Caledonian Macbrayne websites.
The route links with the Oban to Fort William cycle route.
Oban to Ford - 36 miles
The section between Oban and Ford is all on-road. Take the A816 heading south out of Oban and the left fork onto the Glencruitten Road. After two miles, turn right at the route junction at Barranrioch (turn left to head north to Connel). Follow the minor road through lovely Glen Lonan to Taynuilt where there are places to have a pub lunch or cup of tea. The route then turns south-east and heads over Glen Nant to Kilchrenan. There are limited opportunities for food and drink here, so be prepared. After that the route runs parallel with Loch Awe for 18 miles to the small settlement of Ford. There are some steep stretches, but you are rewarded with some truly awe inspiring views. For those wanting to practice their off-road skills, the surrounding forest trails allow you to test your mettle.
Ford to Ardrishaig - 15 miles
The section between Ford and Ardrishaig has a completely different character to the northern section. After a short on-road section on the B840 and the A816, the route joins a traffic-free section past Carnasserie Castle and through the historic landscape of Kilmartin Glen, an area with numerous prehistoric monuments and the probable birth place of the Scottish Nation. Visit the museum and café in Kilmartin to find out more. After Kilmartin, the route heads on-road across the flat Mhoine Mhor and onto the Crinan Canal towpath. Take a short excursion to the beautiful harbour village of Crinan for a refreshment break and great views of Loch Crinan. Retrace your steps back along the towpath and continue for a further six miles past Cairnbaan to Lochgilphead and the canal end at Ardrishaig.
Ardrishaig to Tarbert - 32 miles
For about three miles between Ardrishaig and Inverneill there are two route options. Turn right off the canal to follow a challenging off-road route through the forest overlooking Loch Fyne and then down to join the B8024. Alternatively, carry straight on to the end of the canal and along the A83 before turning south west on the B8024 to Kilberry. This minor road follows the west coast of the Knapdale peninsula, with wonderful views over to the Isle of Jura, before turning north-east towards the port of Tarbert (ferries to Portavadie and Lochranza on Arran). Route 78 doesn’t actually go into Tarbert, but it’s a short diversion to the shops and cafes.
Tarbert to Cambeltown - 36 miles
The route initially follows the A83 to Kennacraig (ferries to Islay) and then the B8001 to Claonaig (ferry to Lochranza on Arran). There are five steep climbs as you follow the B842 along the east coast of the Kintyre peninsula to Carradale, but wonderful views over to the Isle of Arran are some compensation. Again, it’s a short diversion into Carradale before continuing on the final (hilly) stretch to Campbeltown. Once called the whisky capital of the world, Campbeltown now only has three working distilleries, but remains an active port, with plenty to see and do. From Campbeltown there are ferries to Arran, Ardrossan and Troon in Scotland and Ballycastle in Northern Ireland. See www.calmac.co.uk and www.kintyreexpress.com.
Sometimes the National Cycle Network is temporarily closed or diverted. See our Route Closures and Diversions page for any issues on Route 78.
Things to see and do
- Sound of Kerrera
- Glen Nant
- Inverliever Forest
- Loch Awe
- Crinan Canal
- Loch Gilp
- Knapdale Hills
- Loch Tarbet
- Kilbrannan Sound
- Campbeltown Loch
- Mccaig’s Tower
- Bonawe Furnace
- Carnassarie Castle
- Kilmory Castle
- Carradale Visitor Centre
- Campbeltown Heritage Centre
- Campbeltown Museum
Part of Route 78, The Caledonia Way, this mainly on-road route from Oban to Campbeltown offers adventurous cyclists the chance to explore the spectacular peninsula of Kintyre, Knapdale and Lorn. There are traffic-free sections along the Crinan Canal and in Kilmartin Glen.