5 of the Best Family-Friendly Walks & Cycles in Inverness
Want to get away with the family during the holidays? A Highland break in Inverness is just what the doctor ordered, with lots of family-friendly activities and gorgeous scenery to help you forget all about your everyday stresses. After you’ve explored the historic town centre and the many kid-approved attractions in Inverness, one of the best things you can do is getting some gentle exercise together as a family, taking in the beauty of the Highlands.
That’s why in today’s article we’ll talk about some of the best family-friendly walks and bike rides in and around Inverness. We’ll also talk about where you can rent bikes in Inverness. Need some advice for taking the kids out on their first longer bike ride? Check out this guide by Cycling UK. Now, without further ado, here are five great family-friendly walks and bike rides in Inverness.
Family-friendly walk: The Ness Islands
Just outside the city, along the River Ness, sit the pretty Ness Islands, smack-dab in the middle of the River Ness. Offering a nice bit of peace and quiet within easy reach of the major attractions, these wee islands connect to the mainland via bridges and its forested paths illuminated by fairy lights make for a popular walking and running route. Listen to the river roar around you as you spot cute dogs being walked and try to name all the different trees you see.
Walking around both islands makes for an approximately 3-mile walk that takes about an hour to complete, though you can shorten it easily by being tactical about where you cross bridges. You can also combine your walk with a visit to the nearby Whin Park or extend your walk or bike ride along the Caledonian Canal – see below.
Family-friendly Walk and bike ride: Caledonian Canal
The Caledonian Canal connects Inverness on the east coast of the Highlands to Fort William on the west coast. It’s an incredibly scenic route and cycling any amount of its 60-mile length is guaranteed to offer a relaxing, family-friendly bike ride. Start from Tomnahurich Bridge and travel southward on the eastern side of the canal. The road is almost completely flat and there are no cars, so it’s a very safe option even for inexperienced riders.
You can turn back at any point, but four miles in, you’ll come to the Dochgarroch lock gates. Here, you can cross the canal and cycle back into town on the opposite side. Keep in mind, though, that the path here isn’t as well-established as on the other side, so the easier and safer option is simply to retrace your route on the eastern bank. Alternatively, you could stop off at the new An Talla visitors centre for a delicious lunch, tempting treats and carefully selected Highland gifts. The visitor centre is part of the Loch Ness by Jacobite group. After you’re back at Tomnahurich Bridge, why not stop at the nearby Bugh Park for a bit of a family picnic or a visit to the play park or leisure centre?
Family-friendly walk: Craig Phadrig
This forested hill is situated on the western side of Inverness, offering a gently ascending walk through the woodlands up to the treeless, grassy hilltop. This is was once an Iron Age Fort, potentially built atop the remnants of an ancient volcano, and later acted as the headquarters of a powerful Pictish King. Only the earthworks remain visible to this day, but they act as a powerful reminder of past civilisations.
But perhaps the best thing about climbing Craig Phadrig are the amazing views it offers across the Beauly Firth and Inverness itself. Forestry and Land Scotland has two recommended routes up the hill, both of which take about an hour.
Where to rent bikes in Inverness
When it comes to bike hire in Inverness, you have a couple of options. Ticket to Ride is located at the Pavilion within Bellfield Park and offers road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes as well as kids’ bikes for hire. Their staff are also some route suggestions suitable for your ability levels and interests.
Inverness Bike Hire is located in the city centre and rents out hybrid bikes only. They’ll be happy to borrow anything you need, like padlocks, rain macs and paper maps for your cycling adventures. Slightly north of the city centre, Highland Bike Rental offers both hybrid and mountain bikes as well as kids’ bikes and electric bikes to help lighten the load.
Family-friendly bike ride: Inverness Bike Park
Okay, this isn’t as much a cycle route as it is a day out with biking, but the Inverness Bike Park is simply too much fun not to feature! Whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced rider, this new facility will have you trying cool tricks and defying gravity. It’s the perfect place to visit for bigger kids who love a bit of an adrenaline buzz!
Located within Whin Park, you’ll have easy access to the many kid-friendly facilities the park offers once you’re done with biking. These include a seasonal miniature railway and boating pond as well as a large play park and a skate park.
Family-friendly bike ride: Culloden Battlefield & Clava Cairns
Want to inject a little bit of education to the holidays? A family bike ride to the historic Clava Cairns and Culloden Battlefield offers just that. Starting from Inverness city centre, you have 5.5 miles ahead of you before you reach Culloden Battlefield, with Clava Cairns a further mile and a half away.
The length of this bike ride makes it better suited for slightly older kids who’ve been on longer cycling trips in the past. For directions, follow Google Maps or try out this 18-mile route – it’s the perfect challenge for teens!
Guided Walks and Tours
If you want a break from making plans with friends or family we can recommend 2 excellent local Tour Companies. They each provide a great selection of local tours and day trips as well – all guided and really great fun. You can just sit back and relax and look out the window – no driving or navigating required:
- Happy Tours – we have worked with Happy Tours and excellent and the well known Cameron at Happy Tours for many years. Cameron is offering bespoke, small group tours a maximum of 6 per group to discover more see here. Tours include Isle of Skye, Outlander Tour, Loch Ness and Culloden, Whisky Tours, Cairngorm Tours and more. You can book online just check out Cameron’s website!
- WOW Scotland – With Gordon Pearson at the helm you are guaranteed a 5 star Visit Scotland rated experience. Tours include Isle of Skye Day Tour, Skye Fairy Pools Tour, Whisky Tour and Castle Tour. WOW offer a fantastic selection of Tours and Private Tours from Inverness and the opportunity to fall in love with the place we call home. Book Online.
Time for holidays with the Palace Hotel & Spa
Need a hotel in Inverness city centre for your Highland getaway? The Palace Hotel is a family-friendly, family-run hotel in the heart of town with easy access to attractions in Inverness and further afield. And when you’re not busy seeing the sights, why not relax in our newly-renovated leisure club? Get silly in the pool with the kids and then relax in the sauna and steam room – it’s the perfect antidote for tired legs and feet!
Book your holiday in the Highlands by calling us on 01463 22 32 43 or email us. Make sure to also check out our seasonal offers page for the best deals. If you’re planning on staying for 3 nights or more, check out our “Best Hols” deal to save a whopping 20%!