In Spring 2021 Bike Trossachs, a local community interest company, is set to officially launch Gravelfoyle, the new destination tourism brand for the area, with the prime objective of promoting Aberfoyle as Scotland’s premier Gravel Cycling destination.
The village of Aberfoyle, located on the edge of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, within easy reach of Stirling, Glasgow, Perth and Edinburgh, is already a hotspot for gravel riding. Within just a 12 kilometre radius of the village there is a network of over 200 kilometres of off-road, multi-surface forestry tracks and trails, gravel roads and paths in the most stunningly beautiful countryside.
New waymarked gravel routes
The Spring launch of Gravelfoyle will feature the opening of three new waymarked routes – 10, 20 and 30km – that will encourage everyone from families with an appetite for more relaxed, off-road adventures to weekend warriors keen on a longer distance challenge, to experience the joys and thrills of gravel riding. The three routes, starting and finishing in the centre of Aberfoyle, explore Loch Ard, Loch Chon and venture deep into the Loch Ard Forest.
Bike Trossachs is planning to capitalise on the vast forest network of the National Park surrounding Aberfoyle and aims to develop further interconnecting waymarked routes such as The Lochs and Glens Way and around Loch Venachar, Loch Achray, Loch Katrine and as far as Loch Lomond.
Kerry MacPhee’s local take
Watching with green-eyed envy at friend of ADVNTR Kerry MacPhee’s weekly gravel jaunts in the area, it’s plain to see that there’s an incredible network of gravel roads and trails there.
The magic of Gravelfoyle boils down to two things for me: the variety of terrain and the fact that the wee village of Aberfoyle is at the hub of it all.
You can park up in Aberfoyle and do a gravel epic up a Munro if you wanted. Equally, you can head out for a chilled ride that is kind to you on the climbs. If you want a big day out but your pal can only manage half, you can do a loop together that would bring you back into Aberfoyle and you can head out again and do a completely new route. If elevation is your thing you can knock yourself out but if you just want a chill ride, Gravelfoyle has you covered there too. If you’re feeling particularly Scottish, you can head over to the Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond for a pedal along the West Highland Way or perhaps you’d rather take in the Rob Roy Way.
Once you’re done pedalling, you have a choice of coffee shops and even a bike shop. It’s reassuring to have Aberfoyle at the centre and know you can cut a ride short easily, fuel up on cake if you’re heading out again or get a quick bike fix if needed too. Lastly… the locals! A bunch of rad, friendly folk who love the charm of Gravelfoyle and love to share that love. It’s magic.
The professional mountain biker has put together some of her favourite routes here, which give you a bit of a flavour of what to expect.
A true community project
Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Gravelfoyle. Funding for the first three waymarked trails has come from Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER, Forestry and Land Scotland, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and The Strathard Development Trust, which have all committed to providing support for the future development of access infrastructure.
The village and local community and businesses are fully invested in driving and implementing this project. They are keen to build a diverse community of practitioners to promote cycling participation, infrastructure and tourism in Aberfoyle, with a view to developing local jobs, wealth and encouraging sustainable economic growth.
A product of the Dukes Weekender
The Gravelfoyle brand has been born out of the hugely successful and community backed Dukes Weekender, an annual family friendly weekend cycling festival based in Aberfoyle that encompasses the true spirit of gravel riding: adventure, exploration, wild countryside and the simple pleasure of riding your bike.
Those who had taken part in Dukes Weekender, the Aberfoyle based family friendly cycling festival, in 2018 and 2019 fully embraced the event’s social media hashtag, #Gravelfoyle. They used it widely to promote their own gravel riding experiences over the event weekends and the fantastic riding to be had in the area. It was therefore an obvious choice to use the name for the tourism destination brand.
The success of the annual Dukes Weekender event in promoting the high-quality gravel trails in the local forests has also resulted in a huge increase in cyclists visiting Aberfoyle to ride the local trails over the last three years. It has been one of the catalysts to a resurgence in the local economy and a recent boom for local businesses.
Stu Thomson, local rider and one of the team behind Dukes Weekender, said:
It’s been incredible to watch the explosion of gravel riding along with other areas of cycling in the Aberfoyle area over the last few years. The massive amount of gravel roads and trails available within a short distance of the village makes it a unique and wonderful destination for all levels of rider, especially when you combine it with such a beautiful backdrop of the lochs and mountains of the National Park.
The local community have been massively supportive and the team at Gravelfoyle and Bike Trossachs have some fantastic plans in the pipeline that will bring benefits to all over the next few years. As a local resident and rider of all disciplines in cycling it’s a really exciting time!
Neil Christison, Regional Director, VisitScotland, said:
The gravel riding available in Aberfoyle is world-class, and this development will further the area’s profile as a destination for both novice and experienced cyclists. This comes at an exciting time for cycle tourism in Scotland, just a few years out from Glasgow and Scotland playing host to the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships in 2023.
Last modified: 7th December 2020