Cycle routes in Scotland with food
Meals on wheels
To kick off our cycling lifestyle special, Donald Reid surveys a few bike-friendly eating and drinking spots
With its handy bridges and riverside cycle paths, the Clyde is an inevitable focus for cyclists in central Glasgow, so it’s worth keeping in mind that the City Café (0141 227 1010, hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com) in the Hilton Garden Inn on Finnieston Quay is a pretty decent eating spot, be it for breakfast, an al fresco lunch or a refreshment at sundown.
Another place to slake your thirst is the WEST Brewery (0141 550 0135, www.westbeer.com), approachable by various traffic-free routes across Glasgow Green. In the north of the city, Lock 27 (0141 958 0853, www.lock27.com) does the honours with a beer garden adjacent to the towpath on the Forth & Clyde canal.
The Forth & Clyde canal is one route out of the city for those bound for Loch Lomond on the popular Glasgow to Balloch cycleway. With a small Valvona & Crolla delicatessen within Jenners at Lomond Shores, you are at least assured of some gourmet ingredients for a picnic once you get there. Alternatively, pitch up on the first or third Sunday of each month to encounter the Lomond Shores’ farmers’ market (www.lochlomondshores.com).
Follow the canal in the opposite direction from Glasgow and you’ll find a decent watering hole at Kilsyth, where the Boathouse (01236 829200, www.boathousekilsyth.com) is handily placed both for towpath expeditions and the challenges of the Carron Valley mountain bike tracks. Meanwhile, mountain bikers heading into the Trossachs have a number of good eating options in Callander, most notable of which are fish and chip café Mhor Fish (01877 330213, mhor.net) and sister bakery tearoom Mhor Bread (01877 339518) both on the main street.
The Forth & Clyde Canal joins the Union Canal at the Falkirk Wheel, a popular focus for cycle expeditions. In addition to the fairly utilitarian café in the visitor’s centre, there are more substantial options at the Wheelhouse (a sister restaurant to the Boathouse; 01324 673490, www.wheelhousefalkirk.com) and Fratelli Falkirk on Burnbank Road (01324 613311, www.fratelli.info), while the Park Bistro (01506 846666, www.theparkbistro.co.uk) a couple of miles east of Linlithgow is a popular cycle-friendly stop right on the towpath.
Closer to Edinburgh, the canal passes right outside one of Scotland’s most impressive sports facilities, the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (www.eica-ratho.com), where the EICA Café is well-geared to meeting the appetites of hungry cyclists.
Other good day-rides out of Edinburgh include the popular off-road options in the Pentland Hills, where the traditional Flotterstone Inn (01968 673717, www.flotterstoneinn.com) is on hand to provide sustenance. Head east and a pleasant coastal ride will take you to the bar, restaurant and microbrewery in the Prestoungrange Gothenburg pub at Prestonpans (01875 819922, www.prestoungrange.org), while more than a couple of cycle paths lead to the Cramond Inn (0131 336 2035) in the northwest of the city.
More central cycle meanders might take you to the historic Sheep Heid Inn at Duddingston (0131 661 7974, www.sheepheid.co.uk), handily placed for Arthur’s Seat and the Innocent Railway. Finally, Peter’s Yard (0131 228 5876, www.petersyard.com) in the Quartermile development is on the hit list for any city cyclist: not only does it front onto a traffic-free cycle path in the Meadows, but it serves some outstanding cakes, bread and pizza straight from the on-site bakery.
Other cyclist gathering points
Ronde Bicycle Outfitters
66–68 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh, 0131 260 9888, rondebike.com
Not just a bike stop but a bike shop, this is a unique venue to Edinburgh: Gamma up the road sells great coffee as well as selling and fixing bikes, but Ronde throws excellent cakes from Suki Bakes and Cuckoo's Bakery, and Union of Genius soups into the mix.
The Edwardian Kitchen Restaurant
Pollok House, Pollok Estate, Glasgow, 0141 616 6410
Pollok Country Park is home of Glasgow’s Mountain Bike Circuits, with three purpose-built tracks near the Burrell Collection, while National Cycle Network Routes 7 and 75 also traverse the park. The café within grand Pollok House is open seven days.