The Perthshire Gravel Trails Project will deliver a network of gravel routes passing through the Highland Perthshire towns of Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Aberfeldy, suitable for riders of varying abilities. These shorter routes will be complemented and connected by a long-distance bikepacking route starting and finishing in Dunkeld.
Highland Perthshire is criss-crossed with many estate and forestry trails of varying quality and length. Some are only suited for mountain bikes, whilst others are suited for gravel or all-road bikes with fat tyres, which are the sort of bike increasingly used for long-distance multi-day cycling. Worldwide the trend is for people to use gravel bikes for cycle touring, as they open up the possibility to use unpaved roads and paths, to get closer to nature and away from motorised traffic.
Whilst there is an abundance of trails across Perthshire and growing interest in cycling them, there is no unified, authoritative guide that facilitates a visitor or resident to easily do so. This lack of clear information and planned routes prevents visitors or residents from making choices to plan a holiday visit or venture out beyond known local trails.
Even for experienced off-road cyclists, the time and effort required to plan a route, and the inherent risk that the surface may not be suitable, that bridges may not exist or that facilities may be closed, means only the most enthusiastic do so. This excludes many people, local or visitors, from enjoying Highland Perthshire in a healthy, carbon-neutral way.
Highland Perthshire Cycling wishes to use the Perthshire Gravel Trails Project to encourage many more people of all abilities to explore our countryside by bike, safe in the knowledge of a planned, risk-free route with full awareness of their options and alternatives should plans need to change.
The project will be led by Highland Perthshire Cycling Trustee Mike Stead, with the assistance of Highland Perthshire Cycling Project Manager Kat Brown. The trails and bikepacking route will be designed and promoted by Markus Stitz, who has developed a number of long-distance cycling routes in Scotland like the Wild About Argyll and Capital Trail.
Highland Perthshire Cycling is aiming to achieve the following objectives through delivery of the Perthshire Gravel Trails Project:
- Increased visitor and resident participation in off-road cycling opportunities
- Increased local business income through accommodation, food and other visitor spend
- Increased awareness of Highland Perthshire as a holiday destination
The work will commence in November 2019 and finish in September 2020. The trails will be available in the end of May 2020.