Final report rounds up the highly-successful first phase of our project

Our final report of the Highland Perthshire Gravel Trails details the different stages of the project and evaluates its success, using the key findings of a route user survey and the feedback of local stakeholders. The report contains key analytics, the press coverage generated and a final summary. It is available to download as PDF for free here.

The project mapped and promoted hundreds of miles of traffic-free off-road cycling routes across Highland Perthshire for varying abilities of rider. It was led and administered by Highland Perthshire Cycling, a charity set up to promote, encourage and enable more cycling in Highland Perthshire for both locals and visitors, and delivered by Bikepacking Scotland. It received a grant of £9,835 from The Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, match funded with £15,000 from the SSE Griffin and Calliachar Community Fund.

Picture: Markus Stitz

Sharon Rice-Jones of The Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme comments: 

‘We are delighted we were able to support Highland Perthshire Cycling with this innovative project. It has created a fantastic online resource which clearly shows the trails which have been expertly mapped and highlights the level of rider each trail is suitable for. These routes are encouraging people to explore rural Perthshire sustainably by bike, which has in turn had such a positive impact on local businesses and accommodation providers along routes, especially in the current challenging climate. Projects like this really contribute to the local economy as well as the health and wellbeing of communities by encouraging and giving people the confidence to get out and explore these beautiful rural places.’

Mike Stead of Highland Perthshire Cycling comments:

‘Highland Perthshire Cycling is extremely pleased with the outcomes from Phase One of the Gravel Trails. Our vision was to establish and promote a network of trails across the region, and we have succeeded beyond all expectations, despite much of the work and launch taking place under challenging COVID-19 conditions. This bodes very well for a Phase Two and beyond, as tourism and public movement returns to normal through 2021. With the generous and visionary assistance of SSE and The Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme funding we have proven the value to local businesses, who will be engaged to help fund and guide the next phase of the project. This phase will extend the variety and number of trails, keeping the public enthused and building opportunities for more riders in more places, thereby supporting more local businesses and enabling residents to benefit further. HPC thanks Markus for his dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm for the project, and we look forward to working with him in future.’ 

Gareth Shields of SSE comments:

‘When the project launched in November 2019, who could have predicted the year that we have faced in 2020. It is a credit to the team behind the Gravel Trails Project that they were able to press on and when restrictions were lifted to encourage people onto the trails. It is great to read people’s feedback after riding the trails and I am sure the team will continue to develop how the trails are presented and used in the coming weeks and months. I hope that in 2021 and beyond more people are able to come and enjoy the wonderful sights and sounds of Highland Perthshire as they cycle around it. I know I will be!’

Markus Stitz of Bikepacking Scotland comments:

‘As yet this was the biggest project for Bikepacking Scotland. It was made possible with the vision and trust from Highland Perthshire Cycling and the generous support from The Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme and SSE as funders. It was also made possible with the engagement of people that call Highland Perthshire their home, either if they live here or have a close association with the area, and the support from the bike industry. The outcomes of the project, detailed in this report, are encouraging. The success of the Perthshire Gravel Trails Project demonstrates that bikepacking and gravel cycling are no longer niche activities. Next to traditional cycle touring, mountain biking and road cycling, bikepacking and gravel cycling can become key drivers to establish a more sustainable, regenerative approach to tourism in Scotland. This approach, driven by working actively with local stakeholders, can provide activities that have very low impact on the environment and add a long-term income stream to the local economy. Scotland is a land with incredible natural assets and a rich history, and Bikepacking Scotland’s vision is to provide people with ideas to harvest this potential. The project has demonstrated that this is possible. I look forward to working with Highland Perthshire Cycling on future phases of the project. Bikepacking Scotland will also build onto the success and findings from the project to work with other areas in Scotland and to promote cycling as a key driver for a more sustainable future.’ 

You can also find out more at the Highland Perthshire Cycling’s Facebook page @HighlandPerthshireCycling, Twitter @perthshiregravl and Instagram @perthshiregravel

Highland Perthshire Cycling secures investment for Gravel Trails Project across Highland Perthshire

Highland Perthshire Cycling is delighted to announce the launch of the Perthshire Gravel Trails Project, which receives a grant of £9,835 from Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, match funded with £15,000 from the SSE Griffin and Calliachar Community Fund.

Explaining the importance of the Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER support Jackie Brierton, the LAG chair, said:

‘The award of £ £9,835.20 towards Perthshire Gravel Trails is one of a number of projects benefiting from the £3.8 million share of LEADER and Scottish Government funds available for the development of rural communities and enterprise in Perthshire until 2020. This is an innovative project which will establish a network of off-road cycling routes across Highland Perthshire, for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Making these areas accessible to all will encourage people to explore their local areas with confidence and will have a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the communities involved, we are thrilled to have been able to support it.’

Starting in November 2019 and running until September 2020, 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. The trails will be suitable for riders of different abilities and will be complemented and connected by a long-distance bikepacking route.

Community consultations and an online survey will form the first phase of the project. The consultations will be held on 10 December at 7pm in Dunkeld, on 11 December at 7pm in Pitlochry and on the 17 December at 3pm in Comrie and 7pm in Aberfeldy. More information about the community consultations can be found here, where local businesses, interested groups and individuals can also sign up to an email newsletter about the project. The online survey is available at here. 

The project will be led by Highland Perthshire Cycling Trustee Mike Stead, with the assistance of Project Manager Kat Brown. The routes will be designed and promoted by Markus Stitz of Bikepacking Scotland, who has developed a number of long-distance cycling routes in Scotland, including the Wild About Argyll Trail, Dunoon Dirt Dash and Capital Trail.

Mike Stead commented: ‘Highland Perthshire is criss-crossed with many estate roads 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 wider-tyred 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. This project will increase visitor and resident participation in off-road cycling opportunities, it will increase local business income through accommodation, food and other visitor spend, and finally it will increase awareness of Highland Perthshire as a holiday destination.’

More information about the project can also be found at Highland Perthshire Cycling’s Facebook page.