Whether you are a proud Glaswegian or an active tourist, it’s hard not to be impressed by the River Clyde. It was the heartbeat of the British Empire back in the day, when shipbuilding and trade was essential to our national economy. The Clyde meanders through the heart of Glasgow’s city centre before flowing out towards the Firth of Clyde.
There has been significant regeneration of the Clyde Waterfront, with almost £6 billion invested in the area between Glasgow Green and Dumbarton. The riverside has become something of a tourist trap, with the old docklands transformed into much-needed housing and amenities for locals and visitors alike. The Clyde is a place for Glasgow to be proud of once again and there are ways and means for budding cyclists to explore the River Clyde on two wheels. This article outlines the sights and sounds you can encounter en-route from Glasgow city centre out towards Clydebank, Kilpatrick and beyond.
As you venture out of the city centre, you’ll ride past the Victoria Park Pond and Fossil Grove, a beautiful collection of fossilised prehistoric trees. Sports fanatics may also wish to visit the Scotstoun Sports Campus, which is home to a dedicated Squash Club and has a stadium that’s home to the Glasgow Warriors Rugby Union side. It is also the venue for an ATP tennis event on the Challenger Tour, complete with an €85,000 prize pool.
Head north-west along the Dumbarton Road and you’ll soon reach the Clydebank Museum. It is here where visitors can get a sense of Glasgow’s industrial heritage along the River Clyde. A string of permanent exhibitions are on display within the Clydebank Town Hall. The most notable is the Singer Sewing Machine exhibition, which was named a ‘Recognised Collection of National Significance’ in 2013 by the Museums Galleries Scotland. The museum used to be run by volunteers in the town, but now it has a full-time team of staff which also welcome touring exhibitions.
Continue out of Clydebank and beneath the Erskine Bridge and you will soon head through the quaint and quiet villages of Old Kilpatrick and Bowling. Those with a passion for scenery and history can get their fill of both at the nearby Dunglass and Dumbarton Castles. The latter is a spectacular Georgian castle, complete with 18th century artillery fortifications and panoramic views across Ben Lomond.
If you’re not content with heading back to the city centre and you still wish to venture further afield on two wheels, we’d recommend heading north at this point to follow the River Leven. The Renton Road (B857) is the nicest route, taking you through Jamestown and towards Balloch, which is where the River Leven opens out into the vast expanse of Loch Lomond. The SEA LIFE Loch Lomond Aquarium proves exceptionally popular with tourists, displaying a myriad of sea life, while the spectacular ocean tunnel allows visitors to walk through and feel a part of the underwater world including sharks and giant turtles.
While you are here, it’s a good idea to spend some time in and around Loch Lomond, which is the largest inland stretch of water in the United Kingdom. This freshwater Scottish loch is one of Scotland’s most popular locations for boating and water sports activities, while many hundreds of entrants visit annually for the Great Scottish Swim in August. This route from Glasgow city centre is roughly 30 miles long. If you were to cycle from start to finish, it should take you no longer than three hours, but if you take in many of the sights and sounds featured above it will certainly provide a day’s worth of entertainment and intrigue.
For those who live closer to Edinburgh than Glasgow, or are visiting the capital instead of Glasgow, budding cyclists must take a look at our Gorebridge to Crichton Castle cycle route. This short-but-sweet four-mile ride and hike gives you a chance to hop aboard the Borders Railway, the newest line in Scotland, and experience the magnificent Crichton Castle that stands isolated, complete with stunning archways and columns.
Road trips are some of the best ways to travel through a new destination. Around the world there are some amazing sights to see and the freedom that a road trip provides you with is ideally suited to exploring everything on offer. So get adventurous, fly over to a new country hire a car from the airport & get exploring.
1: Lands End To John O’Groats in England & Scotland
This is the longest road trip you can take in the UK, at only 874 miles, this trip may not be as long as some of the other trips in this guide, but going from the Southernmost point in England to the Northernmost point in Scotland is quite the trip, it would only take 17 hours to complete thee trip flat out (which is why it’s also popular for cyclists ), so we’d recommend stopping in some of the many cities on the way & exploring all the sites places like Edinburgh, London & Brighton have to offer.
2: Salar de Utini in Bolivia
So, this one isn’t technically a road, but you can drive across it and it’s truly amazing. The world’s largest salt flat is a white ocean of salt surrounded by the Andes Mountains. While you’ll have to rough camp during your time here, it’s worth the experience to see this part of South America for yourself. Just remember to take precautions against altitude sickness as the salt flats lie at 12,500 feet.
3: Transamazônica in Brazil
This is the longest road in the Amazonian region and it follows the river for much of the journey too. While it no longer passes any pure rainforest, the route is still worth it to see colonial towns, local vaqueiro driving cattle herds and beautiful countryside. Brazil has some spectacular sights and this route gives you the opportunity to really immerse yourself in the culture. Along the way, stop off at Bernardo Paz’s Inhotim arts part where you can wander the grounds and witness the amazing artistic creations.
4: Along The Coast Alicante To Barcelona - Spain
Spain is a country famous for it’s beautiful Mediterranean coastline, with quiet villages and crazy party towns along the way. There’s not much to this trip, but there’s 500km of road from Alicante to Barcelona, there are hundreds of beaches, vineyards and much more to explore, so fly over, find a hire car in Alicante and get rolling towards Barcelona (you can even catch a football game at Camp Nou).
5: Avenue of the Volcanoes in Ecuador
This road through Ecuador is truly exciting and a must for anyone travelling by car. It runs through the Avenue of the Volcanoes in the Andes and past the most famous, Cotopaxi, which is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Beginning in Quito and ending in colonial Cuenca, you’ll pass the Devil’s Nose switchback railway, Mindo’s incredible landscapes and wildlife, and Banos’ hot springs and hiking spots. Ecuador is home to some amazing experiences and vistas and it makes for a really interesting and memorable road trip.
Now you have some Routes to look at road tripping on, you need to get everything prepared, so check out this infographic about tips & tricks for taking a road trip & get everything ready for your journey.
Andrew P. Sykes' third cycling travel book sees him tackle 7,700km across 8 countries, from Spain to Norway. It is a detailed account of the cycle route, the scenery, towns and people that he meets along the way. The writing style makes you feel that you are right there, doing the route with Andrew. There is plenty of humour and interesting experiences to make this book a great read.
This is the first of this author's cycling books that I have read. Most cycling travel books are one-offs where an author goes on a grand adventure, but Andrew P. Sykes has written about three different trips. If you like his writing style it means that you currently have three books to dig into. His writing is a mixture of factual details about the journey interspersed with dry wit and light humour. The jokes are not always laugh out loud, but they always brought a smile to my face. If you are planning to go on a similar trip from Spain to Norway then this book will prove invaluable for inspiration and practical tips and if you simply enjoy dreaming of taking these trips you are sure to love this book.
It is not just about the bike and the cycling, but also about the destinations. Andrew takes several rest days during his journey and uses these to explore some of the towns along the route, so the book gives a good idea of what these places are like from the author's sightseeing experiences. You also get a good impression of the differences in the countries that he passes through because he records his observations, including what the cycling infrastructure is like. This is also a book about people as Andrew meets many other cyclists and locals along the way. He stays in a mixture of campsites and hotels, the former giving more of an opportunity to engage with fellow travellers. He also uses the Warm Showers website, a resource for cyclists to find free accommodation offered by other cyclists.
I liked the honesty of the author. When he has a bad day he tells you about it, he is upfront about the fact that cycle touring is not always brilliant. That said, he does have an excellent time for most of the journey and it is hard not to want to repeat his journey when you read the descriptions of the landscapes and idyllic campsites. I thought his writing about the experience of cycling through Norwegian tunnels was excellent. He really captured how scary this can be and I could feel myself shudder at the thought of the passing trucks.
What really comes across is that Andrew is not one of these one-off around the world adventure cyclists, but someone who just loves to explore the world by bike and keep doing it. He doesn't pretend to be an adventurer and that's the kind of writing that is going to inspire the rest of us to try this because it comes across as accessible and something that we could all give a go.
You can buy the book from Amazon by clicking on the image below:
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.