Built to Last – A new film from Bikepacking Scotland set in the Cateran Ecomuseum launches seven new cycling itineraries in Perthshire and Angus

Filmed on locations featured in seven new and six existing cycling itineraries in the Cateran Ecomuseum, Built to Last is the latest film from round the world singlespeed cyclist and founder of Bikepacking Scotland Markus Stitz. The 10-minute documentary featuring Bob Ellis, founder of the Cateran Trail, Neil Tuer, owner of Alyth Cycles and Jane Wilkinson, willow weaver at Special Branch Baskets, with music from Dave Macfarlane, launches seven new cycling itineraries designed for road, mountain, gravel and touring bikes as part of Travel for All Our Tomorrows – which aims to develop new regenerative tourism experiences in the Cateran Ecomuseum.

Built to Last is available now on YouTube

The Cateran Ecomuseum is a museum without walls, close to the cities of Perth and Dundee in Scotland, both accessible by a new electric bus service from Edinburgh. One of a growing number of ecomuseums worldwide, all its sites are outside. Community led, it empowers local people to take an active role in preserving the objects, sites and cultural practices they value. Providing over 20 pre-designed cycling and walking routes that reveal the hidden heritage of this little known part of Scotland, the museum’s website also offers visitors to design their own routes around its 130 sites of interest.

Travel for All Our Tomorrows, a campaign to position the Cateran Ecomuseum as one of Scotland’s premier car-free holiday destinations, was funded through Smarter Choices Smarter Places by Paths for All, Cairngorms National Park, NatureScot, Perth & Kinross Council and Thomson Charitable Trust, together with the Cateran Ecomuseum’s own directors.

The itineraries developed by Bikepacking Scotland, for mountain bikes, gravel bikes, road bikes and touring bikes, can be downloaded as GPX files for free on the Ecomuseum’s website www.cateranecomuseum.co.uk. They range from 8.3km to 109km and feature a variety of points of interest like stone circles, standing stones, historic churches and wildlife reserves along the way.

Markus Stitz, creator of the new cycling routes and director of the film, comments: ‘Climate change and the impact of my actions on future generations is something that concerns me deeply, and I would like to offer people positive alternatives to our very car-focussed culture. For me travelling by bike has had a massive positive impact on my life, both for my own physical and mental wellbeing. I understand that changing our habits will take time and depend on good alternatives like the electric bus service I used to get to the Ecomuseum from Edinburgh. But as Jane wonderfully puts it in the film, we can make a small difference and can be part of a better history in the future. 

In my eyes we need to be more mindful about what impact we have on our planet and future generations, so that beautiful places like the Cateran Ecomuseum will inspire generations to come. For me the joy of cycling doesn’t depend on the latest innovation in cycling. It depends on a connection with people and places, and the Cateran Ecomuseum has provided exactly that for me. I came to visit for the first time in March 2019, and the idea of making a film about this part of Scotland has been on my mind since then. Clare Cooper, who’s amazing drive and vision has helped me turn an idea into a tangible outcome, invited me and I have returned many times, mostly on my bike. Being able to share the routes I enjoyed through the project and portraying people like Bob, Jane and Neil, people that make the Cateran Ecomuseum such a special place, made this one of the most rewarding sustainable tourism projects I have worked on.

Travel for All Our Tomorrows will also work with local communities and businesses in the Ecomuseum area during 2021 to promote a new family friendly cycling event and one new temporary outdoor arts installation. All routes and more information about the Cateran Ecomuseum can be found at cateranecomuseum.co.uk, Facebook @cateranecomuseum, Twitter @CateranEco, or Instagram @cateraneco

Watch the Q&A session about the routes, film and sustainable tourism

Explore your Boundaries – A short film highlighting the joys of winter cycling around Scotland’s Capital

With a new film Edinburgh-based Markus Stitz and Mark Beaumont encourage more people to enjoy winter cycling in the future. Filmed on a newly created gravel bike route, which follows the local authority boundary of the City of Edinburgh, and additional locations close to the Scottish Capital during January and February 2021, Explore your Boundaries is a short documentary that highlights the beauty and challenges of exploring places on two wheels in snow and ice.

Markus Stitz, the first person to ride a single-speed bicycle around the world, and Mark Beaumont, the Guinness World Record holder for the fastest circumnavigation in 78 days and 14 hours, are both Edinburgh residents. Teaming up to film Explore your Boundaries’ was inspired by encouraging people to see familiar and local areas in unfamiliar ways, showing how great adventures can happen from your own front door.

Mark Beaumont comments: ‘When you ride somewhere in perfect conditions, define that as the summer and the sun is shining, it’s a totally different thing than the grit and the resolve that it takes to then go there in the depth of winter. I often think as a cyclist that there are a number of motivations. People want to do exercise and want to feel healthy, but for me there’s also the other side, which is just the sheer experience of exploring places and those memories. And that’s not necessarily about wellbeing in terms of fitness. As much as I can sit indoors and do circuits or get your miles in on the turbo, I can’t feed the soul in the same way unless I actually get out and ride.’

When the second lockdown was announced in Scotland in the end of 2020 the two cyclists created a collection of routes, named ‘Explore your Boundaries’, ranging from 30 to 315 miles (48 to 505 km), using the boundaries of Scottish local authorities as guidance. The routes are free to download on this site and on Mark’s and Markus’ Komoot profiles. The idea for the film was born when both rode the Edinburgh city boundary on 2 January, completing 68 miles (110 km) in about 10 hours and documenting the journey with stills and video footage. 

With Scotland’s Capital mostly covered in snow from Christmas until the mid of February, Markus used the opportunity to capture the winter landscapes: ‘The last time I remember experiencing that much snow in Edinburgh was in 2010, shortly before I rode from Edinburgh to Germany. That journey introduced me to the joys of cycling in winter. Since then I love going out there and enjoying the elements, and this winter proved to be a perfect opportunity for that, and sharing the elation in a new film.’

While cycling in winter can be at times challenging, for both it is highly rewarding. As Beaumont puts it: ‘There’s definitely a kid inside me that loves ending up in quite tricky places and just creating those memories through big night rides, or being out in the snow. It’s about having fun with that concept of a bike ride, not just thinking I’m going out to get fit or I’m going out to train. It’s about trying to explore familiar places which are quite close to home, but you’re joining them up. And that’s when the best adventures happen.’

Unhurried – Our new film celebrates the experience of bikepacking Scotland coast to coast on the John Muir Way

In our latest film Unhurried’ Bikepacking Scotland founder and filmmaker Markus Stitz documents his trip on the John Muir Way, one of Scotland’s Great Trails. The film reveals a unique coast to coast journey through Scotland’s varied landscapes, history and heritage, during which Markus reflects on one of the great advantages of travelling by bike: being able to slow down and connect more fully with your surroundings.

Unhurried is now available to watch on YouTube.

The John Muir Way links Helensburgh in the west with Dunbar, the birthplace of John Muir, in the east. Using a combination of the waymarked walking and cycling routes, we have produced a recommended bikepacking version, which you can download as GPX on our website here. The route passes through Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, and provides a journey of contrasts and the chance to connect with nature, taking advantage of the green spaces that link coasts, villages, towns and the capital city, Edinburgh.

What to pack on your first bikepacking adventure? Find out more.

We have already developed a number of long-distance cycling routes through Bikepacking Scotland, including the Wild About Argyll Trail and the Go East Lothian Trail, which both use sections of the John Muir Way. The new film has been created in cooperation with the Green Action Trust, a charity focused on environmental and regeneration outcomes for Scotland, which manages the route.

A short teaser to start planning your next adventure.

Here are some of our highlights from the route, which is also fabulous for day trips and microadventures.