Gravelfoyle - Gravel Cycling at the heart of Aberfoyle’s new tourism brand7 December 2020 | By billy1979
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 the latest big trend in cycling - Gravel Riding. Within just a 12km radius of the village there is a network of over 200km of off-road, multi-surface forestry tracks and trails, gravel roads and paths in the most stunningly beautiful countryside.
The Spring launch of Gravelfoyle will feature the opening of three new waymarked routes – 10km, 20km, 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.
Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of the Gravelfoyle brand. 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.
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.
Enda McLoughlin for Bike Trossachs, said: “With the growing success of Aberfoyle as a cycling destination and gravel riding in particular we want to harness the success and incredible offering that this area offers cyclists and create a collective vision for the future of our hometown.”
Neil Christison, Regional Director, VisitScotland, said: “It’s great to see the development of the Gravelfoyle trails, which will offer an exciting new draw for visitors to the region, in turn generating positive benefits for local businesses. The trails will also provide excellent opportunities for wellbeing and responsible travel by connecting people with Loch Ard’s stunning landscapes.
“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.”
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!"
Jason Clark, Cycle Tourism Officer for Forth Valley & Lomond Leader, 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.”
Nick Green, owner of local Aberfoyle Bike Hire, said: "Our shop in Aberfoyle gets busier every year as more and more people hear about the great cycling in the area. We hire bikes to families, couples and groups who want to get out into beautiful countryside without the worry of riding on roads. Visitors always want to know what waymarked trails they can follow. We have participated enthusiastically in the development of the new Gravelfoyle routes because we know they will bring people from far and wide to ride bikes in our wonderful hills and forests."