Leave the car behind, catch the ferry and have an adventure in Dunoon

Wild About Argyll has teamed up with Bikepacking Scotland and Calmac Ferries to promote a series of car-free walking and cycling adventures for various abilities, starting at Dunoon Pier and Benmore Botanic Gardens.

Dunoon is the jewel in the Firth of Clyde, very close to Scotland’s biggest city Glasgow. Situated on the Cowal Peninsula, the seaside resort is a gateway to the great outdoors, with an abundance of walking and cycling adventures accessible easily by public transport from the ferry pier.

Local businesses are embracing the opportunities the great outdoors offer, like Jon Smith from the St Ives Guesthouse explains: ‘Ìf you love the great outdoors, if you love friendly people, this is a place to come. We have got everything: Forests, mountain bike trails, boating, fishing, botanical gardens; nature at its finest.’

Bikes at Puck’s Rest, a Dunoon Guesthouse which caters to bikepackers.

The Rail and Sail Ticket, a joint offer from CalMac Ferries and ScotRail, makes travelling on public transport simple and encourages people to leave their car at home. With a combined ticket for train and ferry travel, which can be bought at staffed stations, online or on the train, it is the perfect opportunity for a spontaneous escape to Scotland’s Adventure Coast and the opportunity to get #wildaboutargyll without a car.

Jenny Tough, an Edinburgh-based adventure traveller and endurance challenger, who has recently taken part in the Dunoon Dirt Dash, is excited about the potential of Rail and Sail: ‘I am very passionate about human-powered endurance challenges and encouraging others to explore this beautiful planet. At the same time I feel strongly about protecting our wild places. Offering people good alternatives to ditch the car and spontaneously have an adventure to explore their own limits is a great idea.’

The stunning scenery around Dunoon.

Steve Bate MBE, adventurer and double Paralympic Champion, has been to Argyll twice in a year and loves the opportunities Dunoon offers for cycling:  ‘Argyll is a fantastic part of Scotland to be explored. I have enjoyed cycling the Dunoon Dirt Dash recently after finishing this year’s road race season, which allows me a week or two of downtime. I love going on adventures when most pro riders put their bikes down. It’s great to encourage people to have an adventure close or far away from home. Dunoon’s setting and the easy access by ferry and train makes it even more tempting to return soon.’

The campaign features a short film showcasing the area and the opportunities Dunoon offers. Joanne Craven, an Edinburgh-based game designer, enjoyed working with FoSho Video from Glasgow on the film to promote the Rail and Sail offering: ‘The best thing about Dunoon is the ferry. Because even though you’re not going very far, it’s actually very easy. You feel like you’ve properly gone on holiday.’ 

Riders enjoying the inaugural Surly Dunoon Dirt Dash, a two-day bikepacking event taking place in and around Dunoon. Image: Neil Hanna

After a short or long day in the outdoors, Dunoon has plenty on offer to relax and great choices to stay overnight. A stroll down the promenade and the Victorian pier is highly recommended, or a visit to the historic Castle Mound and the museum. Browsing the local shops and galleries can be great fun, and local cafes and restaurants offer plenty of opportunities for lunch and dinner. 

Six walking and cycling adventures are currently featured on the Wild About Argyll website. They include a walk through Puck’s Glen, a walk from Dunoon to Bishop’s Glen reservoir and a walk up Beinn Mhor. The cycling routes include the Dunoon Dirt Dash bikepacking route, a road bike loop around the Cowal Peninsula and a mountain bike ride around Loch Eck.

Rail and Sail tickets are also available to Arran, Bute, Cumbrae and Mull can be booked at calmac.co.uk/railandsail.

Bikepacking Scotland works with Highland Perthshire Cycling at a new Gravel Trails Project across Highland Perthshire

We are delighted to work with Highland Perthshire Cycling, who have secured a grant of £9,835 from Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, match funded with £15,000 from the SSE Griffin and Calliachar Community Fund.

Starting in November 2019 and running until September 2020, the Perthshire Gravel Trails Project will deliver a network of gravel routes passing through the Highland Perthshire towns of Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Aberfeldy. The trails will be suitable for riders of different abilities and will be complemented and connected by a long-distance bikepacking route.

Community consultations and an online survey will form the first phase of the project. The consultations will be held on 10 December at 7pm in Dunkeld, on 11 December at 7pm in Pitlochry and on the 17 December at 3pm in Comrie and 7pm in Aberfeldy. More information about the community consultations can be found at www.perthshiregravel.com/community, where local businesses, interested groups and individuals can also sign up to an email newsletter about the project. The online survey is available at www.perthshiregravel.com/survey

The project will be led by Highland Perthshire Cycling Trustee Mike Stead, with the assistance of Project Manager Kat Brown. The routes will be designed and promoted by Bikepacking Scotland, follwing in the tyre tracks of the Wild About Argyll Trail, Dunoon Dirt Dash and Capital Trail.

Mike Stead commented: ‘Highland Perthshire is criss-crossed with many estate roads and forestry trails of varying quality and length. Some are only suited for mountain bikes, whilst others are suited for gravel or all-road bikes with fat tyres, which are the sort of bike increasingly used for long-distance multi-day cycling. Worldwide the trend is for people to use wider-tyred gravel bikes for cycle touring, as they open up the possibility to use unpaved roads and paths, to get closer to nature and away from motorised traffic. This project will increase visitor and resident participation in off-road cycling opportunities, it will increase local business income through accommodation, food and other visitor spend, and finally it will increase awareness of Highland Perthshire as a holiday destination.’

More information about the project can be found at www.perthshiregravel.com and Highland Perthshire Cycling’s Facebook page @HighlandPerthshireCycling and on our social channels.

New cycle carriages for the West Highland Line

We received the great news that Scotrail is introducing new designated carriages for up to 20 bikes and large sporting equipment on one of Scotland’s most scenic routes, the West Highland Line.

As part of the pilot, ScotRail is transforming five Class 153 trains which are due for delivery in 2020 and will be gradually rolled into service on the completion of staff training.

This will be a great opportunity to access the Wild About Argyll Trail in Oban, but also to give our West Highland Rover route a go, as the trains will be servicing Fort William, Mallaig and Oban.

The Go East Lothian Trail – a new 63km route that will make you smile!

Good news, we have just added another route to our offer of bikepacking routes in Scotland. This time we created something that is short, suitable if you are trying to get into bikepacking, fun to take your family on and also short enough to get around the route with one charge on an e-bike. The Go East Lothian Trail was developed with funding from East Lothian Council, and the video below will make you want to ride it! Find out more about the route here.

We are at this years Braemar Mountain Festival in very good company!

 

We are thrilled to be running a bikepacking workshop and a guided ride at this year’s Braemar Mountain Festival in the beautiful Cairngorms from Thursday 1 March to Sunday 4 March. And we are event more thrilled that adventure cycling is one of the major focuses of the event in its second year, with a great selection of more guided rides, skills sessions, talks, workshops and film screenings on offer.

Continue reading “We are at this years Braemar Mountain Festival in very good company!”

Wild About Argyll in German and travel feature in Bike Adventure

We are happy to announce that our latest video Wild About Argyll is now also available in German. You can watch the video below, the original English version is available here as well. Thanks to everyone for watching, we are really looking forward to see your pictures and video once you have ridden the Wild About Argyll Trail yourself. Add us on Twitter and Instagram and tag us or use #waat to share your memories!  The route can be found here.

And for everyone in the DACH region, the next issue of Bike Adventure will include a long feature on cycling in Scotland and the Wild About Argyll Trail, find out more on their Facebook Page.

Wild About Argyll – Our new video captures the beauty of Scotland’s Adventure Coast

Argyll and the Isles, Scotland’s Adventure Coast, provides an awe-inspiring setting for bikepacking. With funding from Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-Operative, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland we  have recently added another trail to our routes, and just released the new short film ‘Wild About Argyll’ to showcase the route. At 655 km (407 miles) the Wild About Argyll Trail is a long-distance cycling trail that was designed specifically with gravel bikes in mind.

Continue reading “Wild About Argyll – Our new video captures the beauty of Scotland’s Adventure Coast”

Gravel joy.

To be honest. My feelings about gravel bikes were mixed. Although I am proud that my picture decorates one of the walls at the Radius Brewery in Emporia, the start of the famous Dirty Kanza, mother of all gravel races, I never warmed up to the idea of owning another bike. Drop bars and off-road, this combination only offered limited attraction to me. For me the days of drop bars were gone, and while I sometimes wished for a bit more speed on my Ogre, so far I thought there was simply not enough to make a gravel bike stand out from my trusted rigid mountain bike round the world companion.

I knew that I was wrong shortly afterwards. I worked on a project for Glasgow City Council and it was the first time I seriously thought about the idea of skinnier tires and drop bars again. The interesting thing is that my thinking had nothing to do with bikes, but somehow a rigid mountain bike wasn’t really what I would have expected in pictures advertising city cycling routes. For some reason it felt wrong. Continue reading “Gravel joy.”

The Central Belter

Looking into Glen Ample last night, I couldn’t hide my excitement. I had been here once before, and waited ever since for the right opportunity to return. Today was the day, and I was everything but disappointed. I was happy. After two long days riding trails over and over again, this was the last crucial bit missing to release the provisional route for the Central Belter.

After I returned from cycling around the world it was my dream to create a trail that combines the three great bikepacking loops in Scotland, the Highland Trail 550, the Capital Trail and the Cairngorms Loop. And with the Deeside Trail providing another great bikepacking opportunity in the North East of Scotland, this was well worth including as well.

My aim was to create a route that is perfectly worth riding by itself, including parts of the four trails, but also provides the opportunity to create a mega bikepacking loop, like the Tour Aotearoa in New Zealand. I haven’t added all number up yet, but riding the Capital Trail, Central Belter, Highland Trail, Cairngorms Loop and Deeside Trail in one go will be a journey of more than 2,500km. And one of the best in the world. Continue reading “The Central Belter”

The Reiver Raid – Singlespeed

We like sports grounds, for camping

After the wonderful feedback to our first video of the Reiver Raid, which has now been watched almost 3,500 times on YouTube, this new video is a follow up to give you more of an idea what the route is like. Filmed and edited on an iPhone, it is the first of two videos to describe the route in more detail. We have now ridden the full loop at least twice, made changes, and made more changes, and we are pretty confident that the final route will be one thing – fun! This is why we changed the musical theme a bit from our first video while sending Markus with his Surly Ogre around the course, with one gear.

Continue reading “The Reiver Raid – Singlespeed”