Cycling in the Orkney Islands

It’s almost as if Orkney was created especially for cyclists. The landscapes of many of the islands are flat and smooth with occasional hills to test your skill and stamina and give you the perfect place for a placid cycle. With spectacular views across the islands and quiet country roads you can wander off the beaten track and explore Orkney for yourself.

As an added incentive, all bikes go free on inter-island ferries and there’s no need to book passage in advance. Simply turn up and queue to board with foot passengers. Alternatively, a cycle to St Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay not only lets you see historic sunken wrecks in Scapa Flow and Second World War barriers built by Winston Churchill, you’ll get to visit four different islands without getting your wheels wet or the need of a ferry.

Cycle the Orkney prehistory Loop Ride, a route that encompasses some of the Orkney Isles best archaeological treasures in a day whilst providing an invigorating alternative to a couch tour. Allow plenty of time as this route includes a range of sites to visit so leave plenty of time to enjoy the sites.

There's so much to see on the island of Hoy that it's recommended you stay overnight. With a name derived from the Norse word for 'high,' in many respects Hoy is the odd one out of the Orcadian islands and skerries due to its varied and rolling terrain. The north is marked by tall, towering cliffs while the south slopes down to the sea to the old anchorages of the British Navy and naval cemetery at Scapa Flow.

The local roads are well surfaced and quiet and in many cases, like on the island of Rousay, they skirt the coastline so you can access all corners of the islands. Most villages also have a local shop or café to keep you fuelled on your cycle.

We recommend using Sustrans national cycle network app, which is free on Apple and Android and enables the user access to over 25,000 miles of walking and cycling across the UK. Click here for a range of pubs with rooms catering for cycling holidays.


(Photo: ©VisitScotland/ScottishViewpoint)  

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