‘Home Is Where The Trails Take You’, a new film from Bikepacking Scotland and filmmaker Markus Stitz, documents a gravel bikepacking journey through the Cairngorms to meet the people that call the National Park home. Featuring Sally Devlin and Calum MacGregor from Aviemore Bikes, Toni Vastano from the Old Post Office Cafe Gallery, David Keegan from Bothy Bikes, Annie Armstrong from Wild Braemar, Richard Watts from Cyclehighlands, and Nash Masson from Ride Scotland, the film captures the strong connection between local people and businesses in the Cairngorms National Park, the activity of cycling and the surrounding natural environment.
The Cairngorms National Park is home to one quarter of Scotland’s native forest and 25 percent of the UK’s endangered species. Half of the Cairngorms has been recognised as being of international importance for nature. The new 165 mile (266 km) bikepacking route, which was designed by us in partnership with VisitCairngorms, follows old military and drovers roads through the UK’s largest area of high ground, regarded as climatically, geomorphologically and biologically the most extensive ‘arctic’ area in the UK. The project was supported by the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project and National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scotrail and Schwalbe.
In 2023 Scotland celebrates not only hosting the UCI Cycling World Championships, but also 20 years of enabling adventure through the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Giving access rights over most of Scotland’s land and water makes places like the Cairngorms exceptional for gravel and mountain biking. Mark Tate, CEO of Cairngorms Business Partnership, comments: ‘The new route travels through some really special places for nature, making it even more important that we take the responsibility that comes with our right of responsible access seriously and enjoy and care for this special place together.’
While the Cairngorms are home to four of the five highest mountains in Scotland, there are no extreme climbs and descents on the route, which is suitable to ride on gravel and mountain bikes. Several businesses along the route offer bike hire and bike-friendly accommodation. The Cairngorms National Park Loop starts and finishes in Aviemore, with frequent Scotrail train connections to stations in the north and south, as well as with the Caledonian Sleeper to and from London.
Following the Speyside Way the route passes Kincraig and Kingussie, before crossing on the Gaick Pass over to Dalnaspidal, and following a section of Sustrans National Cycle Route 7 to Blair Atholl. From there the route passes the three Munros of Beinn a’ Ghlò to Daldhu, before continuing on the Cateran Trail to Spittal of Glenshee and over Scotland’s highest road, the Cairnwell Pass, to Braemar. The journey continues through Ballochbuie Forest, one of the largest continuous areas of Caledonian forest in Scotland, past Balmoral Castle to Ballater and on to the highest village in the Scottish Highlands, Tomintoul, and the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world. The last section of the route follows the SnowRoads scenic route to Grantown-on-Spey and the Speyside Way through Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten back to Aviemore.
‘Home Is Where The Trails Take You’ is available to watch for free on YouTube here, subtitled in English and German. The bikepacking route and shorter itineraries, which have been developed in partnership with local bike shops, can be downloaded on the VisitCairngorms Ride With GPS site here.