Markus Stitz is once again doing his best to persuade us to get out and ride a very long way on a gravel bike. This time, he’s in the Inner Hebrides, where there are beaches, gravel… and whisky distilleries. Ah, now you’re interested!
The new Bikepacking Argyll’s Islands route maps a 496km-journey (308 miles) connecting the Isles of Mull, Jura, Islay and Bute on a mixture of gravel tracks, singletrack, cycle paths and roads. The route also makes great use of ScotRail’s Highland Explorer, which provides space for up to 20 bikes, including tandems. The newly introduced train carriage offers a bike-friendly train connection between Glasgow and Oban, where the new route begins. Bikes travel free on trains and all ferries along the route.
For new bikepackers and gravel cyclists Bikepacking Argyll’s Islands offers a wide range of accommodation and incentives to stop. Experienced cyclists will find plenty of opportunities to extend the route or combine it with other established trails.
Markus comments: ‘When I arrived from my 34,000km-trip around the world with a small boat in Port Ellen, I instantly fell in love with Islay. I returned a few times since, and was delighted when I had the opportunity to work with Wild About Argyll and CalMac Ferries to map a new bikepacking route across the lesser frequented islands in Argyll. It complements the existing Wild About Argyll Trail, which has been enjoyed by many cyclists since its launch in January 2018.’
‘For me, boarding a ferry to an island is the perfect start to a bikepacking adventure, and this route includes some of the most scenic ferry journeys in Scotland. Different from other routes I mapped, this one features quite a few road sections. Most of them are really quiet and enjoyable, like the Long Road on Jura. A gravel bike is the perfect bike to cycle the Bikepacking Argyll’s Islands route. What I really like about it is the combination of great cycling, culinary offers and accommodation. And there are plenty of opportunities to unearth Scotland’s history in places like Kilmartin Glen, which has the most important concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in mainland Scotland.’
The Bikepacking Argyll’s Islands route, divided into eight day itineraries, can be navigated by downloading the GPX-files for free on the Bikepacking Scotland website at www.bikepackingscotland.com/argyllislands.
More information about Wild About Argyll can be found at www.wildaboutargyll.co.uk.