Tag Archives: Cycling


Cycling

The Best Cycling Paths in Loch Lomond

Whether you’re looking for an easy cycling route that the whole family can enjoy, a mountain biking trail that will get your heart rate up, or a chance to tackle a national cycling route, Loch Lomond has you covered.

Clyde and Loch Lomond Cycle Way

The Clyde and Loch Lomond Cycle Way forms part of National Cycle Route 7 and is approximately 20 miles long. Starting in Glasgow and ending in Balloch, or vice versa, the cycling route will take you along former railway lines and canal towpaths, including the well-known Forth & Clyde Canal.

Beginning at Bell’s Bridge, close to the Glasgow Science Centre, you’ll pass iconic landmarks such as the River Clyde, The Tall Ship, Clydebank docks, Bowling harbour and Dumbarton Rock, before arriving in Balloch.

The Clyde and Loch Lomond Cycle Way is a great cycle path for cyclists of all abilities as the majority of the route is traffic free and made from asphalt, however particular care should be taken at Bowling roundabout.

The route should take around 1.5 hours to cycle, leaving you plenty of time to explore your destination.

John Muir Way

John Muir, known as the Father of National Parks was a Scottish-American naturalist and writer who was passionate about protecting and enhancing wild landscapes. The John Muir Way is a 134 mile cycling route which was created in 2014 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of John Muir’s death, Homecoming Scotland and Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, and begins just outside Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park in Helensburgh. The route finishes in Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland, the birthplace of John Muir. Both the start and end points of the John Muir Way are marked by a seat made from Scottish oak and a circular stone plinth with engraved footprints and a John Muir quote.

The 134 mile route is split into 10 smaller sections which can be enjoyed by both cyclists and walkers. Two of these sections take in parts of Loch Lomond & The Trossochs National Park –

  1. Helensburgh to Balloch – the first section of the route will give you a taster of what’s to come. At only 9 miles long and made up of pavements, gravel and grassy paths and quiet roads, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security as there’s a steep climb to tackle before being rewarded with views of Loch Lomond when you reach the top.
  2. Balloch to Strathblane – the second section of the route is 18.5 miles and should take around 3 hours to cycle. Taking in part of the West Highland Way, between Dumgoyne and Strathblane, you can look forward to some stunning views along the way.

West Loch Lomond Cycle Path

This 17 mile cycling route begins in Balloch and ends in Tarbet. Starting at the visitor centre in Balloch, you’ll pass plenty of Loch Lomond attractions including Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch Castle Country Park, The Carrick Golf Course, the picturesque village of Luss, Firkin Point and Tarbet, as well as being able to enjoy the iconic views of Conic Hill and Ben Lomond on the eastern shores of the loch. Along the way you’ll find picturesque spots on the loch shore to stop for a picnic, as well as many bars, cafes and restaurants in the small villages you pass through, including The Clubhouse at Cameron.

Download the route card

Cycling Breaks in Loch Lomond

If you’re travelling from afar and looking to explore more of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, our self-catering lodge resort on the banks of Loch Lomond is the ideal destination. Our accommodation options include lodges, bungalows, cottages and apartments, and sleep up to 8 people. Within our resort you’ll find an award-winning Spa, two golf courses and two restaurants to help you relax and rejuvenate after a day of cycling.

Mountain Bike Hire

Here at the Cameron Lodges resort, we offer both full day and half day bike hire. Find out more about our bike hire rates here.


Toddler Cycling

Teaching Your Toddler How To Use A Balance Bike

Teaching Your Toddler How To Use A Balance Bike

Spring is the perfect time to teach your child how to ride a bike, making sure they are ready to enjoy the great outdoors during the summer holidays! Long gone are the days where kids would learn to ride a bike using a set of stabilisers, then learn again to go without stabilisers.

These days, children are able to learn how to balance themselves and steer their bike using a balance bike, two important skills for mastering riding a regular bike, making the transition from starter bike to regular bike much smoother.

In today’s blog we cover the basics of teaching your child how to ride a balance bike. If you have any experience of teaching your child to ride a bike and want to share any tips with us, please tag us @cameronlodges on Twitter or leave us a message on our Facebook page.

What is a balance bike?

So what is a balance bike and how does it differ from a normal bike? Side-by-side, the main difference is that a balance bike doesn’t have pedals or a chain set, two mainstays of any regular bike.

Balance bikes are a replacement for tricycles and bikes with stabilisers. As they’re meant for toddlers, they’re smaller than regular bikes and have fatter tyres which help stabilise the bike. Most balance bikes have at least one brake, however, at first most kids will try and stop themselves using their feet. So top tip number one, choose their footwear wisely! We don’t want their brand new trainers getting ruined on their first outing! You should also consider safety, so stay away from open-toed sandals, crocs, or any other kind of footwear where part of the foot is exposed.

How do they work?

Pedalling, steering, balancing, braking…cycling requires a lot of different skills and a lot of coordination to master! Balance bikes focus on teaching kids the two most important of these skills – balance and steering.

Balance bikes allow children to push the bike along with their feet at first, before learning to push off and glide along with their feet off the ground.

Is a balance bike better than a regular bike with stabilisers?

Isla Rowntree, triple British cyclo-cross champion and founder of Islabikes, a leading manufacturer of balance bikes, summarises in an interview with Cycling Weekly why balance bikes are better than stabilisers at teaching kids how to ride a bike:

“[Stabilisers] are not actually a great way to learn to ride. A bicycle steers by leaning, you lean it to the right and the handlebars fall to the right, you lean it to the left and they fall to the left. Stabilisers hold the bike in a rigid, upright position – so when a child learns to steer with stabilisers on the bike, they’re actually learning to steer a tricycle.

Instead of learning to steer by leaning, they learn to steer by turning the handlebars, and pushing their bodyweight away from the bike, to stop it toppling over. When they come to ride without the stabilisers, they’ve then got to un-learn what they’ve been doing and learn something different.”

What age is a balance bike suitable for?

Balance bikes are suitable from toddler age upwards. As long as your child can walk, there’s no reason why they can’t begin to learn a balance bike, however most bike manufacturers state from age 2+. Brands including Yvolution have designed a balance bike that’s suitable for younger kids aged 18 months +. Their Y Velo Junior Balance Bike has a double rear wheel for added stability when the child is younger, but the second wheel can then be removed when they gain confidence.

Is there an upper age limit to using a balance bike? In general, kids up to 5 years old can enjoy riding a balance bike, however most children will move on to a regular bike by age 4.

How to choose a balance bike

With so many options on the market, how do you choose a bike that’s right for your child?

Given that your little ones will likely use the bike over a two year period and they will grow a lot in that time, adjustability is key. Most bikes come with adjustable seat and handle bar heights and most bike manufacturers measure using a minimum inside leg measurement, as opposed to age. As well as height, you should find a bike that is no more than a third of your child’s weight.

Safety is key and some bikes offer a steering limiter, which means that the front wheel and handlebars won’t be able to spin fully round. Another important safety factor is whether or not your child can reach, and pull on, the brake.

How much does a balance bike cost?

Like any other product, you can get low (<£50), mid (£50-£100) and high-end (>£100) price points. Factors which affect the cost of the bike include its features e.g. weight, material and tyre type, whether it comes pre-assembled or needs to be built at home, and the brand itself.

The Independent wrote a great balance bike review in October 2018 which ranks the UK’s most popular balance bikes in a top 10 list, taking into account factors such as price, brand and features.

How do I teach my child to ride a balance bike?

As with any bike, before you begin, make sure the tyres are firm, the saddle is stable and the brake works. Teaching your child to ride a balance bike can be split into five main areas –

  1. Getting on / off the bike
  2. Braking
  3. Moving
  4. Balancing
  5. Steering

 

  1. Braking

Before your child gets on to the bike, it’s useful to teach them how to use the brake (if, of course, your chosen balance bike has a brake) so that they know how they can stop themselves if they feel they are going too fast (plus it will save those shoes!).

Start by having them walk alongside the bike, hands on the handlebars. Ask them to gently pull the brake lever until the bike starts to stop. Repeat this exercise as many times as possible for your little one to become comfortable with braking.

  1. Getting on and off the bike

It may be tempting to just lift your toddler on to the bike, however it’s worth spending some time teaching them how to get on and off properly. Getting on and off a balance bike is very similar to getting on and off a regular bike. The key skills to master are leaning the bike and swinging the leg over. Once they have swung their leg over, they should place it on the ground. At this stage, both feet should be flat on the ground, their bottom should be on the saddle and their hands should easily reach the handlebars. If at this stage you think your child looks uncomfortable, consider adjusting the seat / handle bar height.

  1. Moving

Once safely seated on the saddle, hands on handle bars, ask them to walk slowly in a straight line to allow them to get used to the bike and the movement required. While they’re walking, encourage them to look ahead. Top tip: kids can be easily distracted, so it’s useful to have someone up ahead that they can focus on. Your child will naturally go faster as they get used to the bike.

  1. Balancing

Once your child can confidently walk with the bike, encourage them to take longer steps, pushing themselves forward. The aim is to get them to lift their feet off the ground and glide along. Push with the left foot, push with the right foot, then glide! Top tip: a gentle downward slope will encourage them to lift their feet. Once your child has mastered the movements of cycling, re-introduce the brakes. To make it more fun, try playing games where you shout out words like Go / Slow / Fast and Stop!

  1. Steering

Once your child is comfortable with being on the bike and moving forward, it’s time to teach them how to steer. A bike steers by leaning on the handle bars. To help them steer, ask them to lean to the right / left while slightly turning the handle bars. Avoid sharp corners until they’ve built up confidence with gentle curves.

How long will it take to teach my child to ride a balance bike?

Little and often is key, as toddlers will generally only be able to do 30 mins of cycle practice at a time before getting tired, hungry or distracted. All kids learn at their own pace and some may take longer than others to pick up these new skills, but the important thing is that they are enjoying what they are doing!

Here are some tips from some one of our favourite parenting bloggers…

Sam Rickelton from North East Family Fun

“We found taking the kids to a cycle path with a very slight incline worked really well as it helped to give them a little momentum as they were getting started. Also, when you’re moving from a balance bike to their first proper bike, if you remove the pedals and lower the seats for the first few days it will help your children get used to a bigger bike and make the transition from balance to ‘proper’ bike.”

What are the next steps once they’ve mastered the balance bike?

Children usually use a balance bike up until the age of 4 or 5, but again, some kids will progress quicker than others and will be ready to ride a regular bike before their 4th birthday. With the skills they’ve picked up using a balance bike, the transition between riding a balance bike and riding a regular bike will mainly be teaching your kids how to pedal.

Enjoy a Family Cycling Break In Loch Lomond 

Loch Lomond is a fantastic location for all the family to get outdoors and enjoy cycling. Whatever your ability, Loch Lomond has a cycle path to suit! Starting in Balloch and ending in Tarbet, the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path is a 17 mile route which has access to some amazing beaches and picnic spots along the way.

Download the route card from Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

There are other, shorter routes, some of which can be found within the ground of our resort, making Cameron Lodges the perfect base for a family cycling holiday in Scotland.

 

 


Highland Cow

Weather in Loch Lomond Throughout the Year

Highland Coo-1

When our guests are planning their holiday to Loch Lomond, we understand that the weather is a very important factor to take into consideration. There are plenty of jokes about the weather in Scotland, but luckily most of them just aren’t true (honest!). So we’ve put together a post below which gives you an insight into the weather throughout the year here in Loch Lomond and when the best time is to take part in your favourite activity.

Lonely Planet states that it rarely gets too hot or too cold in the Loch Lomond area; we have four distinct seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, each with their own special character and charm (which you can sometimes experience all in one day!) As the saying goes, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’, so it pays to be prepared.

Spring

Spring sees the days starting to lengthen and the average temperatures rising from around 9° C in March to 14° C by mid-May. These months are usually amongst the driest of the year, with just 71mm of rain falling in March and 65mm in May, so they are the ideal time to get out and about and enjoy our stunning scenery.

There are numerous hiking trails to enjoy, or you can hire bikes. Try your hand at fishing or take a ferry trip to Inchcailloch island, part of the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve, which is carpeted with bluebells in April and May.

Summer

June, July and August are the warmest months of the year for Loch Lomond weather, with daytime highs reaching around 19° C and comfortably cool evenings with average temperatures of between 10 and 12° C. The summer is ideal for water sports, including water-skiing, kayaking and swimming and the long light evenings are perfect for whiling away the time fishing on the lochside or riverbank. The summer is also the season for festivals and Highland Games: the Loch Lomond Highland Games and the Luss Highland Gathering are both held in July.

Autumn

September, October and November see temperatures starting to drop back, from an average of 16°C in September to around 9°C in November, but the shortening days bring glowing light and golden and red leaf colours. Autumn is a very popular time of year to visit Loch Lomond, you can take a guided nature walk to spot rutting red deer or enjoy a cruise on the loch. Around half the days during autumn will see some rainfall, but even if the weather is wet there are plenty of fun things to do.

Why not visit one of our local whisky distilleries or enjoy a day trip to the Loch Lomond Sealife Aquarium?

Winter

With snowy mountainsides above the gleaming waters of the loch, the winter landscape around Loch Lomond is hard to beat. Average daytime temperatures range from 8°C in December to 6° C in February and rainfall amounts are around 250mm a month; this may sometimes fall as snow, especially at higher altitudes. In winter, the roads are quiet, so it is the perfect time to go for a cycle ride or car tour, then warm up over a pub lunch by a log fire.

If you are going climbing or planning a hill walk, or even if would just like to know what the weather in Loch Lomond will be like when you arrive, we would recommend checking the Met Office or BBC as these are generally the most reliable.