It is week 2 of the Great Tour and already the team have crossed the border and are cycling in Scotland. It is a varied week ahead for riders as the route is idyllic, but quite challenging. If you are unable to join in this week, you can download the routes and follow the amazing trail. The Great Tour is open to all, you can ride a day or a few days or even more. All you have to do is sign up, turn up and ride.
After leaving the overnight stop in Kippford the riders will hit the road again beginning Week 2 and continuing their tour round the Scottish coastline. The Isle of Whithorn is widely regarded as one of Scotland's most idyllic and attractive locations, with only 300 residents the village is bursting with character and the busy harbour with its fleet of fishing boats is a focal point of this close knit community.
Stage 9 will pass through a number of small fishing villages such as Port William and an abundance of golf courses overlooking the Irish Sea as the route snakes along this relatively remote, yet picturesque section of coastline. Portpatrick only 21-miles from Ireland as the crow, or seagull, flies, dating back some 700-years and is built adjacent to the ruins of the nearby Dunkley Castle.
The initial section of Stage 10 will pass through Stranraer at the head of Loch Ryan, clinging to its shores before continuing north. The stage concludes in Ayr, with rolling green hills and a varied coastline, some of which being part of the Sustrans national cycle route is already a popular destination for cyclists. The spectacular scenery is normally complemented with a local malt whisky at the finish line!
After leaving Ayr riders will jump aboard a ferry to take them to the Isle of Arran, the seventh largest island in Scotland where they will follow the south coast. It's divided into highland and lowland giving the riders some challenging climbs before heading back to mainland Scotland. The stage will come to a finish in Campbeltown, on the Mull of Kintyre, once proclaimed 'the whisky capital of the world'.
The stage starts in the main square of Campbeltown before skirting around the harbour and heading up the east side of the Kintyre peninsula. Passing the small fishing harbour of Tarbert the route has varied road conditions, 1,290m of ascents, gradients rising to 15% in places, giving the cyclists a challenging day, and no doubt sore legs on their arrival into Lochgilphead.
After leaving Loch Gilphead rider will pass Loch Craignish and on to Oban taking in the mountainous coastal roads with some 1,300m of ascents. Oban meaning 'little bay' in Scottish Gaelic is where to riders will make the short hop to the Isle of Mull. This island is well known for having a vast variety of wildlife from otters to eagles. with beautiful beaches and dramatic scenery it's an outdoor lovers paradise.
Leaving the Isle of Mull behind mainland Scotland calls once again for the riders who will snake their way north weaving around numerous Scottish hamlets, lochs and lochens (smaller lochs). With 1,700m of accents riders can expect some spectacular views on their way to the port town of Malliag, home to a festival-flavored regatta every June.
The Countrywide Great Tour is being put on in tandem with CTC. We are supporting the riders with trained ride leaders, insurance and membership package. Full details and routes are available from the Great Tour website