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Route 78 - The Caledonia Way

Route Details

  • From - to: Campbeltown to Inverness
  • Distance: 237 miles
  • Terrain: A challenging route, with on-road and some traffic-free sections
  • National Cycle Network: Route 78
  • Comments from route users: Scroll to the bottom of the page to see these.

A dedicated page lists any major route closures and diversions for the National Cycle Network in Scotland. 

Route Description

Route 78 of the National Cycle Network, also known as The Caledonia Way (Slighe na h-Alba in Gaelic), runs for 237 miles from Campbeltown to Inverness. It has always been possible to follow Kintyre and the Great Glen by road - but this would have involved the use of major trunk roads for significant distances, or in places options only suitable for a mountain bike. Recent work to build sections of traffic free path and to re-surface paths, has brought the Caledonia Way to a standard more worthy of such an significant journey.

The route is heavily influenced by the iconic geography of Scotland - following both the Kintyre peninsula and the Great Glen for their full lengths. It follows Loch Ness, and passes under Ben Nevis, it provides views of famous castles and beautiful west-coast islands, and it reaches as far north as Inverness, while the southern end is as far south as parts of England.   

Long before rail and road most transport in the west coast of Scotland was by sea - the Highland galleys (called Bhirlinns) have influenced the design of the access controls you will see along the route and the logo for the Caledonia Way. 

Access and links

Despite some of the spectacular remote rural cycling on offer this route is also very accessible.

  • Campbeltown ferries link to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland and Ardrossan in Ayrshire, both on the National Cycle Network. Ardrossan is connected to Glasgow by a regular rail service.
  • The Claonaig ferry links to Arran (enabling a trip to a second ferry from Brodick again to Ardrossan)
  • The Kennacraig ferries link to the Isle of Islay, the Isle of Colonsay, and on to the port of Oban (itself on the Caledonia Way), and nearby the Tarbet ferry makes possible links to Dunoon and on by ferry to Gourock - again linked to Glasgow both by train and the National Cycle Network.
  • Oban has rail links to Glasgow (though Tarbet on the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path, and Crianlarich).
  • Oban has ferry links to Kennacraig further south on the Caledonia Way, the isles of Colonsay, Islay, Lismore, Mull, and Barra and South Uist on the Outer Hebrides.
  • Near the route at Port Appin a small ferry to Lismore makes a short circular route from Oban possible.
  • Fort William is served by train from Glasgow (and Tarbet on Loch Lomond and Crianlarich as above), and Mallaig (from where a ferry links to the Isle of Skye - making an onward journey to Kyle of Lochalsh possible - which is linked by train to Inverness).
  • Inverness is a travel hub - linked by train (and National Cycle Network) to multiple destinations across Scotland.   

Route gaps

Please note that there currently remain two unavoidable short gaps in National Route 78. This is due to landownership and other constraints. The gaps are in the section described below as 'Oban to Fort William' - around Ledaig (for 1.1 miles/1.8km) and south of Duror (for 3km/ 1.9 miles). Onward travel here means there is no option but temporarily joining the narrow high speed trunk road, and this is not recommended for children or inexperienced cyclists, or those on foot. There are some more details about the gaps in the Oban to Fort William route description. Over recent years Sustrans and other stakeholders have worked hard to progress alternative traffic-free path routes in these areas, and we are optimistic that work on improving the situation may be possible over the next few years. We continue to investigate all options here. 

The Caledonia Way is best described in three sections - which have their own route pages: 

1. Campbeltown to Oban

This 122 mile, mainly on-road route between Oban and 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 network of ferries that run to and from Kintyre offer opportunities for creating your own island-hopping tours. Ferry services are now available from Campbeltown to Troon and Ardrossan (Ayrshire), to Brodick (Arran) and to Ballycastle (Northern Ireland).  

For detailed route description, see Oban to Campbeltown route page.

Bike Hire:

2. Oban to Fort William

Most of this 48 mile route is on wonderful, traffic-free path, with a few sections on minor roads.  Much of the path between Oban and Ballachulish is built along the former railway line which ran from Connel to the slate quarries near Ballachulish. The path has great views, hugging the coast for much of the way and has very few gradients. There is no traffic-free route between the Corran Ferry and Fort William but the Corran and Cambusnagaul Ferries make it possible to access a quiet single-track road along the west side of Loch Linnhe.

For a detailed route description see the Oban to Fort William route page. 

Bike Hire: 

3. Fort William to Inverness

This part of the route starts in the shadow of Ben Nevis, heads through the Great Glen on the Caledonian Canal towpath, on cycle path, and on minor and forest roads to Fort Augustus. From here it uses quiet roads along the east of Loch Ness and ends in the Highland capital of Inverness. 

For detailed route description, see Fort William to Inverness route page. 

Related maps:

Bike Hire and Repair:

Latitude: 
56.622243171834505
Longitude: 
-5.29541015625
Zoom level: 
10
Title: 
Buy the map
Image: 
Description: 

Map covers National Route 78 from Oban to Inverness.

Region:

The Caledonia Way, National Route 78 of the National Cycle Network, is a cycle route that runs from Campbeltown to Inverness, along 235 miles of spectacular scenery. 
The route begins at Campbeltown, following the Kintyre Peninsula and the Great Glen Way, it passes Loch Ness, Ben Nevis, many Scottish landmarks and historical sites and ends in the city of Inverness, the beautiful capital of the Highlands.
It offers a variety of cycling, from challenging on-road hills, to lengthy sections of traffic-free path through the magnificent terrain of the west coast of Scotland.