We’ve done four bike and barge trips now, and they just keep getting better and better! If you aren’t familiar, bike and barges are trips where you live on a boat for the duration of trip but then the boat takes you to several different locations for you to bicycle during the day and sight see in the evenings and nights. The boats come equipped with a crew, but for these trips they also include a dedicated cook and at least one full time tour guide. There are many reasons we prefer these trips to standard cruises, but here are a few of them: small boats hold only a small number of travelers; small boats can get into smaller towns and ports than you normally see; the crew to traveler ratio is very good, so you get very personalized service; and because of the focus on biking we get some activity every day and get to see new and interesting places. We can probably think of more reasons, but you get the idea!
Our boat for this trip was the Flying Dutchman. It is operated by a group called Island Hoppers you can find at https://www.inselhuepfen.com/en/cycling-tours/scotland/sail-bike-hebrides. The Dutchman was built in 1903 as a herring fishing boat, but was refitted later on into a tour boat. It has 10 guest cabins, each with a private bath and two single beds. The cabins are pretty small, but have everything we needed including power outlets, full bathrooms with showers, adequate storage, and comfortable linens. We had two tour guides this time, Martin from Germany and Ana from Croatia. They took turns leading our group on the rides and the other guide would bring up the rear in the sweeper position. They were both very knowledgeable about the area and had obviously spent time studying up on Scottish history and the areas we’d be visiting before the trip. They had a contagious enthusiasm about the rides that quickly caught on with the group and made us look forward to each day’s adventure.
Each evening our tour guides would provide a briefing on the next day’s schedule and activities, and give us a map of the biking route. This was always a great opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the areas we’d be visiting. We were on the boat for six days total, and visited two islands and more than a dozen small towns all along the Western side of Scotland. Below are links to a post on each day’s ride.
Scotland Bike and Barge Day 7 – Edinburgh