Great British Gravel Rides: Cycling the Wild Trails of England, Scotland & Wales is a new book from Markus Stitz and Vertebrate Publishing. With the help of other gravel cyclists, the book aims to showcase a variety of gravel and trail rides across Britain.
Markus is a Scotland-based singlespeed round-the-world cyclist and the founder of bikepackingscotland.com.
He has curated a collection of 26 routes from Scotland, England and Wales. Each gravel ride is a favourite of the contributing cyclists.
- To buy the book see Adventure Books. I receive a small commission for sales through this link
More about the book: Great British Gravel Rides
The 26 routes are chosen by both male and female riders. Background information about the cyclists is provided, with insight about why they have chosen their route.
Each route has a detailed description, public transport details and attractions to explore, cafe and pub recommendations, plus a list of local bike
shops and bike hire providers.
The routes featured are suitable for a wide range of cyclists, from 20km to 600km.
There are downloadable GPX files for all the routes.
The book is published on July 7, priced £25, and supported by Schwalbe Tyres and Kinesis Bikes. See Adventure Books. Also buy from Amazon. (I receive a small commission for sales through this website, which allows me to fund some of the writing on my website.)
Markus said: “I was curious about the places gravel bikes take us to, but I was even more interested in the people whose infectious enthusiasm makes gravel riding as vibrant as it is.
“I am very grateful for the time and enthusiasm of the people who kindly shared their favourite gravel routes with me.
“Everyone I interviewed and photographed for this book is representative of how colourful and diverse gravel riding in Britain is.”
The book will be accompanied by a feature-length documentary to be released later in 2022.
Markus added: “I tried to produce this book in as sustainable a way as possible. Most of the trips to research this book were done by train or bus.
“Due to time constraints, I couldn’t research everything by public transport and bike, but I made sure that most of the routes in this book are accessible for people who choose not to own a car.”
My thoughts: Great British Gravel Rides
By coincidence, I have recently bought a gravel bike. I live in an area where there is great potential for gravel riding. Once I have built up my cycling fitness, I am keen to head off for a few gravel cycling adventures.
Most likely, these rides will be in Scotland and so when I received the book (I was sent a free copy for an honest review) I turned to the section on Scotland.
Scotland’s rides start with a biggie. A 92km coast-to-coast route from the Kyle of Lochalsh to Beauly. The route is a favourite of record-breaking round-the-world cyclist Jenny Graham and I am confident it’s a fantastic route.
Taking a closer look at the details, I can see why it’s rated as “expert”. The ride heads into very remote locations although the distance – and the total elevation of 979m – seems manageable for a two-day trip. Doing this in a day would test me just now.
In my opinion, it would be better if the distance, terrain, elevation information etc was given at the start of each ride in the book. There is a distance detail on the introductory page, but I headed straight to the end of the ride description to see what else would be involved.
Next up is another experienced female cyclist Naomi Freirich with her ride: In Search of Gravel on the Monega Pass.
This route is 42km and – again I turned several pages to find out more details – has 1375m of ascent. That is a lot of ascent for a shorter route but having read more, it sounds like a superb route in Angus and the Cairngorms.
A Tour of Highland Perthshire is the third ride and it is a favourite of Richard Pearson. The route is another biggie at 99km with a total ascent of 1716m. I would probably split this into a two-day bike packing trip.
In Argyll, gravel cyclist Steven Groom suggests an easy graded 19km ride with 333m of ascent. It sounds like a good one for me to try to get into the swing of gravel cycling.
The Scottish section also has:
- 59km and 516m of ascent ride in the Lomond Hills of Perth and Kinross and Fife.
- 67km and 1131m ascent in the Trossachs, in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.
- Clackmannanshire ride of 29km and 555m of ascent.
- 169km ride with 1760m of ascent in East Lothian.
- 29km and 483m of ascent gravel ride in the Scottish Borders.
- Dumfries and Galloway ride of 82km with 679m of ascent.
Other gravel rides
The book covers Northern England, where there are five gravel routes, and eight more rides in Southern England. There are two rides in Wales. A bonus route by Markus is another Scottish ride of 20km on the Isle of Jura.
Overall, this is a lovely book with lots of detail, useful information, descriptions, personality and great photos.
I don’t know what has happened to rides in Northern Ireland in this book and I’m sure there must be many more in Wales. It does feel like a book that started out as Scottish gravel rides (this is totally understandable when you know that Markus is based in Scotland), then it was expanded to England.
But there is only a nod to Wales, while Northern Ireland has been forgotten.
I wonder if a book about Scottish gravel rides only, then one for England only, then another that covered the whole of Britain would have been a better idea.
The book also offers lots of tips and advice for getting started with gravel cycling. There is information on bike types and tyres, for example. I had no idea there were so many tyres to choose from!
Anyway, in conclusion, it’s a book that I am sure will inspire cyclists to get out and explore on gravel. I will be trying a few of the easier rides first just to see how I cope with a gravel bike on rough terrain and tracks. I’d really like to try the coast-to-coast route, especially after walking from coast to coast recently.