A tourism team who are attempting to make Perthshire the nation’s tourist capital for cyclists have completed the first phase of mapping the region’s off-road moorland gravel tracks.
The Perthshire Gravel project has logged and promoted hundreds of miles of traffic-free, off-road cycling routes across Highland Perthshire for varying abilities of rider.
Plotting the topography for tourists has been Highland Perthshire Cycling, a charity set up to promote, encourage and enable more cycling in Highland Perthshire for both locals and visitors, along with Bikepacking Scotland.
Last winter, the charity received grants from the rural Perth and Kinross LEADER Programme and the SSE Griffin and Calliachar Community Fund totalling £25,000.
So far, a string of routes have been mapped out across the region’s estates, starting from Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Aberfeldy, Rannoch station, Blair Atholl and Comrie.
Hundreds of residents and traders were consulted with to ensure the very best local secrets were included.
The routes fall into four difficulty categories, with some suitable for all fitness and skills levels and others reaching expert difficulty, where the path can travel 25km from the nearest services.
Also finalised is a 206-mile four stage multi-day “bikepacking” trail, encompassing the very best of what the region has to offer all on one bicycle.
The routework came following collaboration with Bikepacking Scotland in what the organisation say has been its biggest project to date.
Perthshire Gravel was launched on the theory that Highland Perthshire’s stunning landscapes, away from fast moving traffic.
These rural trails can be cycled carte blanche due to there being no trespassing laws, had the potential to draw in enthusiasts from around the world.
All that organisers say was missing was a structured set of maps, highlighting the maze of grouse hunting and farm trails that weave through hills and glens.
The first phase of these maps have now all been published online and are accessible free of charge.
Mike Stead of Highland Perthshire Cycling said: “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.
“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.”
Bikepacking Scotland’s Markus Stitz added: “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.
“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.”