West Highland Way Cycling 101: Newbie’s Complete Guide


Asking why you should go on a cycling trip in Scotland?

Well we have a lot of reason for you to take that bike on the Scottish roads.

Cycling is an awesome way to see the best of our islands, coast, lochs, countryside, towns and villages, and there are plenty of great points to stop for a breather and a lovely view. Among the many routes you can take, the West Highland Way is probably the best way with the most scenic views.

There’s no way for outdoor lovers to not appreciate the West Highland Way. Overall, it is 96 miles long and it touches a hit parade of Scottish scenery, including Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, and Glen Nevis.

A lot of people take the challenge of traveling the route from end to end with most people trying to walk their way through the West Highland Way. Most people walk it over 5, 6 or 7 days to take in the beautiful scenery and there is also a one day running race mid-summer where some amazing trail runners complete it in record times of less than 15 hours.

Don’t worry if you can’t beat this 15 hours, there are a lot of hotels, inns and b&bs along the way you can book earlier so you can take your rest before continuing with your journey. Besides, going slow will let you really enjoy the scenes along the way.

But since it takes lesser time to complete the journey by bike, you will also see many cyclists trying to complete the west-to-east or east-to-west, coast-to-coast trail.

Since the trip is long, and it would take days, there are some things you might want to consider when cycling through the West Highland Way to make the experience more enjoyable and help you avoid hassles.

  1. Go as light as possible.  There’s a lot of climbing and there are sections of “hike a bike” where you’ll have to carry your bike. A full suspension bike can better survive the rough tracks.
  2. Go for chunky tyres but something that still rolls reasonably well on the rear. Good puncture resistance for those sharp rocks will help.

Consider going tubeless if you don’t already have that set up on your bike.  If you’re not tubeless, consider inflating your tyres a little higher than normal to reduce the risk of pinch-flat punctures, but not so high that you lose grip.

  1. Make sure you’ve given your bike a full service beforehand.  This will be hard going on components.
  2. Make sure you have fresh brake pads.  There’s a lot of sandy gritty stuff on those trails that will eat away at your pads.

Fit a mudguard during the wet days.  Some sections can be full of puddles and it’ll prevent you having a wet rear end!  If it’s been dry for a few days you’ll be fine though, or you can just put up with getting wet.

  1. If carrying your bike for more than a few minutes hurts your shoulder, consider putting some foam on the top tube – it doesn’t add much weight and it’ll save you hurting your shoulder. And if you really can’t go further with a bike and wish to walk through some parts of the trail, you can use bike transport services by transporters like Inverness Baggage.


Baggage During Your Cycling

Everyone needs to carry things on their bikes, from a tube and multi-tool up to a week’s shopping and more. We look at the pros and cons of your options in loading up.

There’s no single best way to carry stuff on your bike. The right set-up for you will depend on how much you need to carry and for how far, what you need to do with it at your destination, and your personal sense of what works best for you.

Let’s look at some options on carrying your baggage in this West Highland Way.

Carrying small loads

You’re almost certainly going to need to carry spare tube, tyre levers, multitool, snack, pump, etc. — but where?

  1. In your pockets

There are literally hundreds of small saddlebags on the market, intended to provide a safe home for your tools, spares, wallet and keys. Bigger versions will take spare clothing too if the weather’s changeable or you’re out for an adventure. Lightweight cycle tourers have always used bigger saddlebags; the latest designs to come out of the bikepacking and adventure racing world are big enough to swallow half your gear for an overnight.

Carrying larger loads

  1. Rucksack

You’ve also got a vast range of choice when it comes to small-to-medium backpacks. Many people simply press into service a hiking daypack, but there are plenty of bags designed for cycling, intended either for commuting or mountain biking. The latter usually have a slot for a drinking bladder, which you’re unlikely to need unless it’s a very long way to the office.

  1. Panniers

The quintessential on-bike bags, panniers sit either side of your bike so a large load is balanced. However, there’s nothing to stop you using just one if all you need is to carry a day’s worth of office stuff.

You’ll need a rack to hang them on, at which point you have to decide whether you want that rack on the back of the bike or on the fork.

A rear rack is traditional if it’s going to be the only place you hang luggage, but there’s a school of thought that says low-rider front panniers are actually better. Very heavy rear panniers can dramatically affect the handling of your bike, causing the back end to wag around. Because the weight is close to the steering axis of the bike, low-rider front panniers have far less effect. You only get that advantage with a low-rider rack though; large, heavily-laden front panniers up high are a bad idea.

  1. Trailer

If you want to carry a week’s shopping in one go, load up a lightweight bike for a camping trip, or run any number of errands then it’s worth considering a trailer. You may be able to unhitch the trailer leaving the bike almost bare, which is handy if you’re going to stay at a base and ride out from there.

  1. Handlebar bag

Associated with old-school cycle touring, handlebar bags are actually one of the unsung heroes of the bike luggage world. A bar bag with quick release mount is a great place for the essentials for leisurely riding such as snacks and a compact camera. Modern bar bags have attachment systems that make it very easy to quickly take the bag off the bike so you can take your valuables with you while you stroll around taking in the sights.

Still can’t achieve a hassle-free trip through the West Highland Way with all these suggestions?

Inverness Baggage was created to provide the wise and discerning traveler a secure, economic and hassle-free way of getting their luggage safely where it needs to be. Be free from all the troubles and concerns so common in current transits.

Many find our services at Inverness Baggage particularly useful. Anyone can send suitcases and larger bags on ahead to ensure a carefree journey.

Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy when you transport your bags with us:

  1. Ship your luggage to get your things on time and in one piece.

Travel for any length of time and you will sadly hear about or experience lost and/or damaged luggage. This oft-repeated tale of traveling woe is apparently just part of flying these days. Look up the numbers yourself and the statistics will not fail to shock. An absurdly large amount of luggage is mishandled in some way. Don’t spend another minute worrying about where your luggage is and whether it will be there when you need it. You can rely on Inverness Baggage to deliver your bags safely and reliably to your destination.

  1. The easy, affordable way to deliver your luggage ahead of your travel.

Inverness Baggage can go the extra mile and take care of all those pesky details involved in dealing with your luggage while traveling, so that you don’t have to. You simply relax in the knowledge that your suitcases will be where you need them to be, when you need them. No ifs, ands or buts.

Forget horror stories of lost and damaged luggage by deciding right here right now that the typical airport luggage handling service is not for you. Fragile items? Bulky items? Whatever you need for your trip, Inverness Baggage will ensure its safe delivery to your final destination!