Cycling is a brilliant way to see the Highlands. The slow pace of travel allows you to take in your surroundings that little bit more, and the quiet roads make for relaxing and scenic pedalling. Wild camping spots are easily accessible on two wheels and bikes can be carried onto many of the passenger ferries to the Islands. If day trips on two wheels is more appealing, then bikes can easily be rented in all of the main tourist hotspots.
Hitching has largely fallen out of fashion in recent years, but in the more rural parts of the north and west where public transport is infrequent, it is still common during the summer. For long distance ridge walks like the Cuillin Ridge or the Aonach Eagach in Glencoe it is usual to park your car at one end, then hitch back to it at the end of the day. It is against the law to walk beside the motorway so sliproads or service stations should be used when hitching from busy areas. For more information Undiscovered Scotland has a few recommendations.
Campervans can give the thrill of independent travel while still retaining a modicum of luxury. Plan ahead while visiting remote areas as petrol stations and shops may not be open on Sundays, but do try and contribute something to the islands by shopping local instead of stocking up before you arrive. Campervans can be hired easily and when the freedom of the wild gets too much, hook-ups are available throughout the country.
Single track roads are a common feature of the more remote parts of the Highlands and Islands, don’t be frightened, a few simple rules will keep you safe and legal.
Passing places are marked by a post with a diamond on top, use them when a car is coming in the opposite direction or when a car coming from behind you needs to pass. If a passing place is on the left, pull in and stop. If a passing place is on the right then stop and wait opposite the space. Don’t forget to wave as you pass.
Calmac ferries connect the mainland to most of the inhabited islands on the west coast.
Two competing ferries connect Orkney to Caithness, across the Pentland Firth. The journey from St. Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay by catamaran takes under an hour while the Northlink Ferry takes the slightly longer route from Scrabster to Stromness. Northlink also operate overnight services from Aberdeen. Orkney and Shetlands Councils operate a variety of services that connect some of the more remote island destinations.