Headwater - Cycling the Moray Coast and Whisky Trail, Self-Guided

8 days
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Whisky-flavoured Speyside is a dream for the cyclist and whisky connoisseur. Pedalling along the beautiful Moray Coast, your 7 night whisky pilgrimage combines beautiful cycling in the Scottish Highlands with the chance to visit the many famous distilleries and sample their world-renowned tipples along the way.


Pedal past the fast-flowing salmon-rich River Spey, and before a glass even meets your lips, your routes expose you to all the elements that combine to make whisky loved around the world. Moving at a leisurely pace, breathe in the sweet scent of barley from the fields that provide whisky's essential ingredient, and cycle past the mountains and glens of Speyside, which provide the pure, clean water required to produce Scotland's most important and revered export.

You'll start in Inverness, which although is a modern town, has historical links stemming back as far as Neolithic times, and is home to an 800-year-old castle. Heading by bike through many towns (and stopping for a wee dram en route!), you'll explore distilleries including Glen Moray and Glenfiddich, and encounter spectacular woodland, coastline, lochs and wildlife. Culminating at Aviemore, here you can marvel at the mighty Cairngorm Mountains that tower above the clear waters below.

This trip allows you to re-trace bygone times with a visit to Culloden where Bonnie Prince Charlie saw his hopes dashed, and the 14th century Cawdor Castle, where Shakespeare's Macbeth plotted his unnatural deeds. You may even spot dolphins from Fort George's ramparts at Moray Firth!


  • A whisky pilgrimage combining legendary riding of the Scottish Highlands with visits to famous distilleries
  • Uncover whisky's history whilst cycling along the salmon-rich River Spey; plenty of tastings en route
  • Cycle through pine forests, along the beautiful Moray coast, past lochs and on the Speyside Way

At a glance

Key information

  • 7 nights in locally run B&B's and guest houses
  • 5 days cycling with luggage transfers
  • Mainly quiet roads and cycle paths, but some busier points when entering/leaving towns
  • Self guided holiday. Minimum age 12yrs
  • Countries visited: United Kingdom

What's included

  • 7 nights hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of B&B's and hotels
  • All breakfasts
  • Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
  • GPS route directions and maps
  • RideWithGPS navigation app
  • High quality hybrid bikes
  • Luggage transfers between hotels

What's not included

Optional Upgrades

  • Electric bikes available
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Cycling

The suggested cycle routes follow a large amount of dedicated cycle tracks which are mainly tarmac and some gravel tracks.

Day by day breakdown
Day 234.0km/21.0miles
Day 346.0km/28.0miles
Day 447.0km/29.0miles
Day 539.0km/24.0miles
Day 639.0km/24.0miles
Day 737.0km/23.0miles


  • Day 1

    Arrive in Inverness

    Arrive at your hotel then explore this modern town, which has historical links going back to Neolithic times. Visit the 800-year-old castle, museum and art gallery. Your evening meals are taken at local restaurants this week (payable locally). (Staying at Fairfield Lodge, Breakfast only)

  • Day 2

    Inverness to Nairn

    Cycle to Culloden for a poignant historical experience. Discover the Visitor Centre (entry payable locally) for an insight into the last hand-to-hand battle fought on British soil, the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Continue to the spectacular 14th century Cawdor Castle (entry payable locally) and explore its three gardens - the Walled Garden, the Flower Garden and the Wild Garden - before heading on to Nairn. (Staying at Glen Lyon Lodge, Breakfast only)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Nairn to Elgin

    Visit three distilleries today: Benromach, the smallest malt whisky distillery in Moray; Dallas DHU Historic Distillery and Glen Moray. Explore Brodie Castle then pedal past the River Findhorn, the town of Forres and on to Elgin and its ruined cathedral. Stay at St Michaels Guest House, Breakfast only.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Elgin to Craigellachie

    At Spey Bay you'll find the long-distance Speyside Way and the start of the whisky trail. Following the River Spey on footpaths, quiet roads and disused railway tracks, encounter spectacular scenery and plenty of wildlife. Visit the Scottish Dolphin Centre at Tugnet or the Glen Grant Distillery in Rothes, founded in 1840. You have the option to take a diversion from Craigellachie to Dufftown, often referred to as the 'Malt Whisky Capital of the world', to visit the Glenfiddich Distillery, built by William Grant and his family; the Macallan Distillery and the Speyside Cooperage, the only working cooperage in the UK where they still shape, shave and char oak casks for the whisky industry throughout the world (approx 5 miles each way). Staying at Bridgeview, Breakfast only.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Craigellachie to Grantown-on-Spey

    Cycle along the quiet roads of Banffshire, never far from the River Spey, to reach Grantown-on-Spey. This picturesque, traditional Highland town sits on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park and is surrounded by ancient woodlands. Staying at the Norwood B&B, Breakfast only.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Grantown-on-Spey to Aviemore

    Pedal to the nature reserves at Loch Garten and Abernethy Forest. The mighty Cairngorm Mountains tower above the clear waters of Loch Morlich. Perhaps take the chance to try some watersports or explore the many forest tracks. Staying at the Park Guest House, Breakfast only.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    At Aviemore

    There are various options in Aviemore today - with cycle hire still included you could perhaps take a ride through Rothiemurcus forest to the water sports centre at Loch Morlich and continue on to the funicular railway. Alternatively cycle to the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, following Sustrans route no.7. If you don't want to cycle on your last day, you could always enjoy a ride on a steam train past heather-clad hillsdies of the Cairgorms National Park, to nearby Boat of Garten. Staying at the Park Guest House, Breakfast only.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Leave Aviemore

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Essential Info



United Kingdom

No vaccinations are obligatory.

Eating and Drinking

Full Scottish breakfast is included each morning. During the day there are either places to stop for lunch or your information will advise taking a picnic with you. There is a choice of places to eat in the evening, with a three-course evening meal typically costing £20-£25 per person.


Inverness weather

In Inverness, the summers are cool; the winters are long, very cold, and windy; and it is mostly cloudy year-round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 0°C to 18°C and is rarely below -5.5°C or above 22°C. The warm season lasts for 3 months, from mid-June to mid-Sept, with an average daily high temperature above 15.5°C. The hottest day of the year is in late July, with an average high of 18°C and low of 11°C.

In Inverness, the average percentage of the sky covered by clouds experiences mild seasonal variation over the course of the year. The clearer part of the year in Inverness begins around mid-April and lasts for 6 months, ending around mid-October.

Inverness has rain year-round, but the wetter season lasts from June to January, with a greater than 29% chance of a given day being a wet day. The chance of a wet day peaks at 35% in mid-October. Inverness experiences some seasonal variation in monthly rainfall, however the most rain falls during August and the least rain falls in March.

Average hourly wind speeds in Inverness experience significant seasonal variations over the course of the year. The windier part of the year lasts from October to April whilst the calmer time of year lasts from April to October. The wind is most often from the west from May to September.

Is this trip for you?

Cycling Conditions
Classification: Self-Guided
Average daily distance: 45km (28 miles)
No. of days cycling: 5
Terrain and route surface: The suggested cycling mainly follows quiet tarmac roads and designated cycle paths, however, there are some sections on busier roads. Much of the route is gently undulating, but there are some steeper hills.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodation, provide you with route directions on a smart phone app with audible description of the route so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.

It is important that you are happy following route directions, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

On some days it is possible to shortern the day's ride by taking the shorter option - this will be detailed further in the route directions.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route directions contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local agent or hotels are normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 12 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. Please be aware that some of the cycling on this route is along busier roads so any children must be confident at cycling alongside traffic. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.



Your accommodation for the week includes a range of high-quality, friendly guesthouses, Bed & Breakfasts and private houses, with either ensuite or private facilities..

All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory supplement for a single room for the tour duration. For a solo traveller there is an additional charge to cover transfer costs.

Prices are based on two people sharing a twin room but reductions for using multi-bedded rooms to suit your party may be available on request.

Additional Accommodation

Extra nights can be booked, subject to availability, in Inverness and Aviemore. Please ask our sales team for details.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936