The UK’s first waymarked gravel cycling routes have opened near Aberfoyle, Stirlingshire, in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. A community interest group, Bike Trossachs, is behind the three new trails dedicated to gravel cyclists.
The opening coincided with the pandemic delayed launch of Gravelfoyle, the new destination tourism brand for Aberfoyle.
What is gravel cycling?
Gravel cycling is a relatively new cycling discipline bringing the accessibility, physical benefits and non-technical aspects of road cycling to off-road trails. The landscape is mostly mellow, cross-country trails, rather than technically challenging downhills, more associated with mountain biking.
Gravel bikes are a cross between a road bike, hybrid and hard-tail mountain bike.
From relaxed social rides to remote and demanding endurance racing, mass-participation events to dirt touring, there’s something in gravel for everyone.
At entry level it doesn’t require specialist bikes and equipment.
Gravelfoyle waymarked trails
The 10km, 20km, 30km waymarked routes start and finish in the centre of Aberfoyle and venture into Loch Ard Forest, exploring the areas surrounding Loch Ard and Loch Chon.
The routes have been designed to encourage more cyclists – from families with an appetite for more relaxed off-road adventures to weekend warriors keen to complete longer distance challenges – to experience the joys of gravel riding in the area.
The village of Aberfoyle is within easy reach of Stirling, Glasgow, Perth and Edinburgh, and has become a hotspot for gravel riding.
Within a 12km radius of the village there is a network of more than 200km of off-road, multi-surface forestry tracks and trails, gravel roads and paths set amid beautiful countryside.
The new Gravelfoyle brand is an evolution of a hashtag – #gravelfoyle – initially born out of Dukes Weekender, which is a successful, community-run gravel cycling festival staged in and around Aberfoyle.
Gravelfoyle trails funding
Funding for the UK’s first three waymarked gravel routes has come from Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER, Forestry and Land Scotland, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and The Strathard Development Trust. They have all committed to providing support for the future development of access infrastructure in the national park.
Enda McLoughlin, chair of Bike Trossachs CIC, said: “We have seen an increase in outdoor and active tourism in the area over the last few years, with cycling leading that change.
“We are harnessing this success, and are delighted to be the community lead for this local initiative, providing beautiful and safe routes for locals and tourists, to explore the Loch Ard Forest.”
Stu Thomson, local rider and one of the founders behind the Dukes Weekender, said: “This is a hugely exciting step for the village and the Trossachs area as a destination.
“It’s been wonderful to witness the organic growth of gravel cycling in the area and as locals the first question we’re always asked is ‘where do I go?’.’ Now we have three fantastic routes for visitors to explore, opening up the sport to new participants and further elevating the village as the go-to location for gravel cycling.”
For more info on #gravelfoyle