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Backpack & Budget

Bike and Ride Through Scotland

February 04, 1996|LUCY IZON

Economical packages for exploring Scotland this spring and summer are being offered by the Scottish Youth Hostel Assn. for travelers who want to tour independently or in a group.

The SYHA has a network of 80 budget accommodation facilities throughout the country. Each offers low-cost lodging in dormitories. The hostels either have meal service or provide kitchens.

Packages include seven days of unlimited coach travel with Scottish Citylink, enabling travelers to explore the mainland and the Isle of Skye--a rugged west coast island, 50 miles long, where Gaelic is still widely spoken. Explore Scotland packages also include six vouchers for overnight accommodations in any of the SYHA facilities, plus a SYHA handbook and map, and an Explorer ticket that is valid for free entry to many historic monuments and castles (including Edinburgh). Travelers also receive a Scotpass discount card that is honored for reductions on goods. The cost is $197. You can travel between April 1 and Oct. 31.

If you want a do-it-yourself package for rail travel through the Orkney Islands, you can consider the Scottish Wayfarer programs.

These packages are available for eight or 15 days. They offer unlimited travel by rail (second class) throughout Scotland and sailings on most of Caledonian MacBrayne's West Coast Ferries, plus one-third off P&O's Scrabster-to-Orkney sailings. You also get seven or 14 vouchers for SYHA accommodations, a SYHA handbook and map, and a Scotpass discount card. The eight-day version is $260, the 15-day package is $413. You can travel between April 1 and Oct. 31.

The SYHA also organizes walking, wildlife and cycling programs that independent travelers can join. The cycling adventures include the services of a guide, self-catering accommodations and all ferry travel. Bike rentals are available.

You can island-hop and cycle through the inner and outer Hebrides for a week for $228. This tour starts on the Isle of Skye and includes ferry travel to Harris, plus exploring at North Uist and the Isle of Raasay. The average distance covered is 35 miles, but on one day the distance totals 50 miles. Groups will departon May 25, June 22, July 13, Aug. 24 and Sept. 7.

For wildlife enthusiasts, there are seven-night packages that include all meals and the services of an experienced guide.

On Islay, famous for bird life and known as the Queen of the Hebrides, travelers stay in the same hostel and go out on daily tours to explore the coastal scenery. Trips depart June 22, July 13 and Aug. 10. The cost is $351.

Or you can can explore the geology, archeology and wildlife of the west coast islands of Skye and Raasay. Travelers are based at Kyleakin hostel. Tours depart April 13, June 3, Aug. 3 and Sept. 7. The cost is $352.

Groups will set outFor further information, contact SYHA National Office, 7 Glebe Crescent, Stirling, FK8 2JA, telephone 011-44-1-786-451181, or contact Hosteling International (800) 444-6111.

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