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Where am I going in 2022?


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Orkney & Shetland 2022
Hotels

This was planned and fully booked for 2020, rescheduled for 2021, and due to cancellation of ferry bookings is now provisionally planned for 2022.

We will have 4 days on Orkney to visit some of the many attractions that we did not get to in 2018, followed by a week touring Shetland from end to end.

My experience and style

What to expect


Who am I?

In the year prior to the CTC AGM in Glasgow I'd had a fantastic solo tour of the Outer Hebrides, and thought people attending might like to extend their trip following the same route. This first tour was in 2014, and since then I've led another 5 tours in different parts of western and northern Scotland. Before the Coronavirus struck I had a further 3 planned for 2020. As well as leading tours I am also a bike instructor and teach Bikeability to school children.

Diane is my partner, and she has got roped into helping make the tours run smoothly. We were very lucky to be able to go on Chris Ellison’s September 2020 Land’s End to John o’Groats tour.  It was actually Diane’s second LEJoG. This involved more cycling per day than on my own tours, but was fantastic nevertheless. Diane also helps lead the Glasgow Tandem Group for visually impaired cyclists.

My tour leading style

I provide digital route maps, a tour booklet and suggested café and lunch stops. I encourage tour members who cycle at similar speeds, or had shared interests in photography or historic sites, to split into smaller groups. I try to ensure that no-one cycles on their own unless it is from choice. We constantly meet up at cafes and viewpoints. Most of my tours visit remote locations and the route is very obvious, with only one road to choose from. Where that is not the case, then we will regroup, and I will lead with Diane as the back marker. Together we also provided luggage transfers. One of us will ride with the last riders on the road, while the other drives ahead with the luggage, and then cycles back to re-join the group. In case of an emergency our vehicle can take an extra passenger. This has proved invaluable as most tours have had at least one day where this was required.

The roads I take

My routes tend to be moderate and suitable for experienced cyclists with a good level of fitness. The average speed over the course of the day will be between 11 and 13 mph (18-22 kph). The distance per day will vary depending on how many places we are visiting and how hilly the route is. Typically we stay two nights in each place, alternating longer moving on days of 50 miles (possibly one or two longer still) with a shorter sightseeing day where we start and finish at the same hotel.

My routes use minor roads and cycle paths, even if this includes lots of hills, in preference to a flatter but busier main road. Only if there is no suitable alternative will my route follow a busy main road. As my tours seek out quiet and remote places, sometimes we have to make use of a main road as it's the only option, but these tend to carry very little traffic, unlike other parts of the UK. On some days we may cycle on just one road all day, with very few road junctions. My tours  normally start and end in a city, but I use cycle paths to escape into the country and the rest of the tour is city free.

The places we stay

As far as possible I aim to book hotels for the whole trip. However, in some places there is only one hotel, and it can’t take everybody in the group. In such circumstances I arrange a nearby B&B as 'overspill'. Typically people should expect to stay in a hotel for 80 to 90% of the time. The quality of hotel depends on what is available, but given a choice I book those of a middling quality for the best available price. This is in order to try to keep the cost of the tour down. Rooms are normally twins or doubles, and people share. Generally there are not enough rooms in the small hotels in remote places, so I can’t offer single occupancy.

Where do I go?

Together with my partner Diane I have been running cycle tours since 2014. I favour the islands and the west coast of Scotland because of the beautiful scenery, and quiet roads. The format has evolved to plan moving-on holiday tours, typically with two night stays. This allows a day trip to see the local area, rather than just pushing on to the next destination. I see our tours more as holidays with bikes, combining cycling with tourism. Diane and I both enjoy open water swimming, and encourage the swimmers amongst you to join us for a dip in a loch or the sea.

We recce each tour, seeking out the best routes and visitor attractions. Some tours include rides that we have done many times. We use this knowledge to plan the best tour that we can for you. In fact, when I first led club rides I delighted in finding good new routes to share with others. I also welcome suggestions and recommendations. Indeed, one recommendation of a route during my first tour has since been used time and again, and the person who made it has also come on every one of my tours.

Accommodation is all in hotels, but where there is a lack of availability then Guest Houses might be used. We also provide luggage transfer, so that the cycling is easier and more enjoyable.

We have cycled part of Tony Kilcoyne’s tour of the Black Country and completed Chris Ellison’s Land's End to John o’Groats in 2020 (Diane first did it in 2012).

Where have I been

I have run cycle tours to all of the larger islands of the west of Scotland, and the length of the west coast from Campbeltown to Durness, across to Thurso and out to Orkney. The thing that my tours have in common is cycling in rural areas, on quiet roads (often single track), and water (lochs and sea water and often ferries). We will have short visits to beauty spots or historical sites on some days, and cafe and lunch stops every day. Basically, I want to help others enjoy the spectacular scenery of Scotland and have a great cycling holiday.

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Outer Hebrides
Hostels and Hotels

My first tour leading a small group up through the Outer Hebrides. I was still inexperienced at touring and was carrying far too much stuff.

The islands and west coast of Scotland are just packed full of beautiful beaches, but only this one doubles as an airport.

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Inner Hebrides
Hotels and some Hostels

This tour started from Glasgow, using cycle paths to leave the city and escape into the country. The picture is of a single track road with views to the Isle of Arran. A very experienced tour leader (Brian Curtis) mentored me on this tour. We also visited Isla, Jura, Mull, Iona and Skye. We stayed mainly in hotels, and used hostels for a few nights. Customer feedback suggested using all hotels or all hostels.

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Outer Hebrides and St Kilda
Hotels

I always had a desire to visit St Kilda, so this time we added in an extra day for the trip out to what seems like the most remote part of the UK. Poor Diane suffers badly from seasickness, but had decided she would put up with it in order to get to St Kilda.

This was an exceptional tour, with great weather, and almost everyone on it has since returned on subsequent tours.

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Campbeltown to Tobermory (aka as part 1 of Martin’s trilogy of West of Scotland Tours)

Hotels

This time we visited Campbeltown, Gigha, Crinan, Isla and Mull. After the success of the trip to St Kilda, I incorporated a day trip to the Treshnish Isles (where we saw the comical puffins) and on to Staffa to see the magnificent Fingal’s Cave. We finished in Tobermory on Mull, and made that the starting point for the next tour. By now I had settled on running Scottish tours staying in hotels, usually for 2 nights, and in remote places. I am now doing cycle holiday tours rather than just cycle tours.

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Ullapool to Thurso and on to Orkney

Hotels

The mainland part of this tour has been relabelled as the North Coast 500, since I first cycled it. The picture is of Achmelvich beach. This is one of the most remote and sparsely populated parts of Scotland with some tough coastal roads.

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Tobermory to Ullapool

Hotels

This remote little gem is Castle Tioram on Loch Moidart.

This became the second part of the trilogy, where we stayed the first night in the same hotel on Mull, and then the next day set off on the ferry going north onto Ardnamurchan. The highlight was riding one of the highest road climbs in the UK, over the Bealach Na Ba to Applecross. Here we had a rest day and went kayaking.

Contact details

Tel : 07981 100017
mdjamieson@hotmail.co.uk
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