John O'Groats in new 800-mile cycle trail
JOHN O'Groats and Cape Wrath have been included in a new 800-mile cycle trail launched to promote access to the countryside.
Cycling UK launched the new ready-to-ride long distance route – linking the the two far north destinations with the Peak District – on Sunday.
The Great North Trail has been created to answer a demand from cyclists for greater access to the countryside on routes largely away from traffic.
Around 98 per cent of the trail is on bridleways, byways, cycle routes, unpaved roads and very low-traffic minor roads.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Cape Wrath Fellowship which puts cyclists to the test, and Sam Jones from Cycling UK explained that those reaching the north-west Sutherland location by bike can have their photos entered into the fellowship's historic roll.
Sam has completed the journey to Cape Wrath himself and said the coastal path was challenging with the ferry across the Kyle of Durness an integral part of the route.
The development of the trail is part of Cycling UK’s ongoing work to open up more of the countryside to cyclists, which could have enormous health and economic benefits.
The group have been assisted in creating the trail by the Obscura Mondo Cycle Club’s work in creating a route from Glasgow to Cape Wrath called the An Turas Mor, Gaelic for The Long Journey.
The route is designed to be an adventure mountain biking route, and is mainly on unsurfaced trails. The nature of the terrain varies in different areas – there are many rugged upland trails across exposed moorland, suitable for more experienced mountain bikers, but also short sections of canal path and disused railway perfect for family days out.
Divided into eight sections, the Sutherland and Caithness routes start from Oykel Bridge with the Cape Wrath trail covering 133km and expected to take two to three days, while the John O'Groats journey is 218km long and estimated to take three to four days.
The route to John O'Groats includes a number of forest tracks and takes cyclists from Forsinard on to Altnabreac and around Loch More before using back roads through Mybster, Watten and Lyth to reach the final destination.
The trail is available to view online on the Cycling UK website, where an extensive route guide can be downloaded.