Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Terrific video highlights gravel cycling routes on Scotland’s ancient drovers’ trails

Short film accompanies launch of Perthshire Gravel website from round-the-world cyclist Markus Stitz

A short film highlights a new, 331-kilometre gravel bikepacking route through the heart of Scotland that follow the country’s ancient drovers’ trails, once used by farmers to take their livestock to market, a journey that a couple of hundred years ago could have taken several weeks.

The release of the video from Bikepacking Scotland accompanies the launch of a new website, Perthshire Gravel, that looks at the history of the trails and also provides a guide to off-road riding in the area.

The man behind them is single-speed round-the-world cyclist and film-maker Markus Stitz, who comes from Germany but has made his home in Scotland, and besides telling the story of the ancient drove roads, they also highlight the region’s history.

> Edinburgh cyclist rides round world on singlespeed bike

Commissioned by Highland Perthshire Cycling, the film was funded by Rural Perth & Kinross Leader Programme 2014-2020, SSE Griffin and Calliachar Community Fund.

The new gravel bikepacking route one of 11 different itineraries – many starting and finishing in locations accessible by train, making them suitable for day trips – that can now be downloaded from the Perthshire Gravel website, with individual routes ranging from 12 km to 120 km.

Stitz said: “Designing the various routes made me aware of not only the rich history of Highland Perthshire and the Tay Valley, but also of the huge variety of landscapes that can be found across the area.

“I sought to use the story of the cattle drovers to draw parallels with the adventurous spirit of bikepacking nowadays, while showcasing the immense beauty of the area, not just for cyclists.

“I hope the new film and the route network will encourage more people to explore the area and will also give locals new ideas to experience their immediate surroundings,” he added.

> Video: Wild About Argyll with Markus Stitz

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment

8 comments

Avatar
growingvegtables | 3 years ago
5 likes

I'll just drop this in  wink.

Memories of riding, 50+ years ago, over some of the drove roads across The Mounth (between Deeside and the Mearns coast).  [Exaggeration ... a lot of carrying!]

Long before MTBs and gravel bikes and the like.  Just a bog-standard BSA with a three-speed Sturmey Archer hub.

Happy days .

Avatar
IanEdward replied to growingvegtables | 3 years ago
1 like

Quote:

Exaggeration ... a lot of carrying!

Sounds like all the bikepacking I did years ago, there was a reason I ended up just leaving the bike at home and going hiking instead!

That's why I'm enjoying gravel so much, the very name sort of pushes you towards routes that have a very high likelihood of being rideable...

Avatar
IanEdward | 3 years ago
3 likes

A general point related to the discussion below, I think a lot of gravel bikes come ill-equipped for the sort of exploratory track bashing the video promotes.

I'm lucky that I have a 2x11 drivetrain and 40mm tyres, but was out with friends on 1x drivetrains and 'racier' gravel bikes and they struggled, spinning wheels and losing traction.

I think a huge amount of Scottish stuff should be ventured into with a bike equipped for the more rugged end of gravel, lower gearing (e.g. lower than 40x42...) and the biggest softest tyres you can run, with some tread!

I'm now looking at some of the routes I want to ride later in the year and wondering if I should just take my 29er hardtail with some faster rolling tyres...

Avatar
Glov Zaroff | 4 years ago
2 likes

Looks nice, but he's cycling on estate fire roads. The remaining drover 'roads' in Perthshire are mostly tiny wee, barely walkable paths sandwiched between dry stone walls (when they've not been trashed/reclaimed by farmers) and in the summer you can be up to your armpits in tall grass. Even the MTB guys leave them until winter. I should know. I've got miles of them behind my house! The real cycling is on single track which is fine for all sizes of tyre. 

Avatar
kevvjj replied to Glov Zaroff | 3 years ago
0 likes

I'm assuming the 11 different routes have actually been ridden and tested on a gravel bike and therefore don't include those you describe as unrideable.

Avatar
Glov Zaroff replied to kevvjj | 3 years ago
1 like

kevvjj wrote:

I'm assuming the 11 different routes have actually been ridden and tested on a gravel bike and therefore don't include those you describe as unrideable.

I'm sure they have. My pedantic point is that drover roads hardly exist anymore in Perthshire and Angus. What remain are minimal traces and barely rideable, even on a MTB. They're the domain of the ambler and the dog walker. This chap seems to be riding around on the fire tracks/shooting tracks of estates which are fine for cycling on gravel bikes. 

Avatar
KiwiMike replied to Glov Zaroff | 3 years ago
6 likes

Hi Jimmy, I've worked with Markus for two years to make ths happen, so have some insight  1

Where the drove roads existed there are often now well-formed tracks used by estate vehicles or sometimes public roads - good examples being from Kirkmichael to Glen Tilt up Glen Fearnach (gorgeous estate track, as per video at 5 minutes), Rannoch to Bridge of Balgie in Glen Lyon (Ah-Maz-Ing gravel road, not in the film), Ardeonaig to Comrie (as in the film - awesome gravel road),  and from Amulree to pretty much anywhere else - mostly rideable with 40mm+ tyres and a positive attitude.

The drove roads have been added to greatly of course by estate roads and then with vehicles. But don't be under the impression that this is marketing spin - significant chunks of the routes remain and have been built on over the years, and the surfaces are great for fatter-tyred bikes. Yes every inch of every route has been carefully planned and ridden multiple times. 

We will do more filming, and expand the route network over the coming year.

Cheers

Mike

Avatar
IanEdward replied to KiwiMike | 3 years ago
0 likes

Quote:

Ardeonaig to Comrie (as in the film - awesome gravel road)

Oh hello, Ardeonaig to Comrie all on gravel you say? The nearest direct route I could find followed the Rob Roy Way up what looked liked grassy hiking paths, then heatherbashing for 2km, then descending hydro tracks down to Loch Lednock. 

Is there a more continuous line?

Either way, It's on my list to try...

Edit: also, thanks for this post, mention of Kirkmichael took me back to my first attempt to find the 'Lost Road' from Loch Oisineach Beag to Kirkmichael, but that was pre-satellite imagery. Just revisited on Google Map and have spotted the path I didn't find on the ground 12 years ago! Worth a revisit...

Latest Comments