Bikepacking and hostelling fit well together. This is why we created The West Island Trail in partnership with the Scottish Youth Hostel Association, SYHA, a bikepacking route starting and finishing at Oban Youth Hostel.
Best ridden in four days it gives you the unique opportunity to enjoy the wilderness and beauty of the West Coast and Islands of Scotland while staying in some of the best located Youth Hostels along the way, offering a warm welcome and a hot shower after a long day in the saddle. All four hostels in Oban, Lochranza, Port Charlotte and Tobermory provide affordable accommodation and have pubs and restaurants to eat situated nearby to sample the local cuisine, and have secure shelters and drying rooms. After a nice breakfast you can enjoy the next day riding and tackle the challenges the route offers you.
This is a route suitable for intermediate to experienced cyclists, with sections that require good bike handling and navigation skills and fat tyres. We highly recommend using a GPS device, as navigation is tricky on some of the remote sections. A SPOT tracker is recommended, especially for the mountain traverse in Islay, which can be treacherous in bad weather.
This is bikepacking with a twist, as you have to work around the ferry times, especially on the Port Askaig to Oban crossing. This ferry only runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you take the ferry on a Wednesday, please consider an early start or take the road straight to Port Askaig. The Saturday ferry runs at 12.15pm which should allow enough time to ride the full route.
Here’s a playlist on YouTube with videos that will give you a good idea what to expect.
The route is divided into ten different sections: Sections 1 & 2 for day one, sections 3 – 5 for day two, sections 6 – 8 for day three and sections 9 & 10 for day four. There’s an alternative route for both sections 5 and 9 for less experienced riders and cross bikes.
Have a look at the pictures from the route on Flickr: