Aberfoyle, a small village north of Glasgow in Scotland, is aiming to become a hot destination for gravel cycling in the United Kingdom.
As part of a joint project between ‘Gravelfoyle’ and ‘Bike Trossachs’, a new tourism brand for the area, three brand new waymarked gravel routes opened around the village today which. it's hoped, will mean the ‘Gravelfoyle’ project develops into a ‘mecca’ for gravel cyclists in the United Kingdom.
The hashtag #Gravelfoyle became popular on social media after a local cycling-festival, with visitors to Aberfoyle and local riders using it when sharing photos and videos of their adventures in the area. The hashtag skyrocketed in popularity, and with more than 1,000 shares across Instagram, it was the obvious choice to become the name of the new project.
The routes created by the tourism partnership are 10, 20 and 30 kilometres in length, and take riders through the genuinely beautiful landscape around Loch Lomond and through the Trossachs National Park, one of the best places for gravel biking in the UK.
All three of the new routes start and finish in the centre of the village of Aberfoyle, including sections deep within Loch Ard Forest, taking in the area around the nearby Loch Ard and Loch Chon.
The organisers say the aim of the routes is to encourage riders of all ages and abilities to get riding, with the hope that users will then base themselves in Aberfoyle for the duration of their rides.
The new routes aren’t the first time that gravel cycling has been encouraged in Aberfoyle. In 2018, 2019 and 2021, the village hosted an annual gravel cycling festival, the highly-successful ‘Dukes Weekender’.
The local community-run event encouraged families and other riders to the area in west Scotland.
Stu Thomson, one of the founders of the ‘Dukes Weekender’ event explained that this is an exciting step forward for both the village and the local area.
He said: “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 waymarked 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 in the UK."
Only missing in 2020 due to the global pandemic, the 'Dukes Weekender' was initially organised by local cyclists but is now run and organised by Bike Trossachs.
The success of the ‘Dukes Weekender’ event sparked an economic upturn for local businesses in Aberfoyle, with several pledging their support to the ‘Gravelfoyle’ trails project. Various other local Scottish organisations have committed to funding the project, including Forth Valley and Lomond Leader (FVLL), Forestry and Land Scotland and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.
Jason Clark, cycle tourism officer for Forth Valley and Loch Lomond Leader (FVLL) said: “FVLL is delighted to support the development of these trails around Aberfoyle with a significant funding contribution. It’s an exciting and ambitious project which will enhance Aberfoyle’s reputation as a gravel riding destination and cycling hub for all, bringing significant economic benefits to both local businesses and communities.”
The three new waymarked routes are reportedly the first in the United Kingdom, and Kenny Auld, head of visitor services at Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park said:
“Aberfoyle is already a great destination for all types of cycling and these three routes highlight the best of the forest road network with amazing views of Ben Lomond and Loch Ard. With the three waymarked loops of 10 km, 20 km and 30 km there are routes for everyone. The routes provide a fantastic opportunity for people to leave the car in Aberfoyle and explore Loch Ard Forest by bike and we encourage everyone to give it a go.”
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