Vertebrate Publishing sent me this gravel rides guidebook by Ed Shoote for review. It lists 28 rides in Scotland, all tailored to be able to be ridden on a gravel bike.
Although I haven’t ridden any of the exact routes in this book I have ridden extensively in the Borders region around Peebles on both MTB and Gravel bike. This experience will give me an insight to check if what is written in the book reflects what is actually there on the ground.
The map pictures in the book are clear and detailed but you probably won’t want to take the book with you on the ride, happily though Ed includes a link in the book to GPX files for all the routes. If you use a GPS device this makes following the routes easy. Some routes are right out there though so it’s always good to take a back up paper map of the area to avoid embarrassment!
All the routes are also graded on a “gravel scale” from 1-5 which reflects the whole route including size of gravel and the technicality of the route. Each route has an introduction that describes the local area, the amount of climbing and distance, what to expect and tips on the best place to park if driving to the start.
There is a list of local bike shops and places to eat on the route or at the start/finish.
There are some stunning pictures in the book and these are really inspiring. However the sky is not always blue and the sun doesn’t always shine in Scotland so it’s well worth reading Ed’s introduction where he writes about recommended kit to wear or take and what to do in an emergency.
I mentioned at the beginning that I’d ridden parts of the routes in the Peebles area, some of these are included in the “Four forests and a wind farm in the Tweed Valley” route and I can say that Ed has got it spot on from the type of gravel, the climbs and fun descents and I also agree with his café recommendations too!. Even though this route doesn’t journey far from the town centre you do get that “out there” feel. Perfect for a gravel bike the area just begs for exploration. Ed’s route could be used as a starter and added to by the rider. This option is enhanced by Scotland’s enlightened access laws.
Gravel Rides Scotland is an excellent book that explores some of the best gravel riding the UK has to offer, the addition of downloadable GPS files is just the icing on the cake. This comprehensive guide is inspiring and makes you want to drop whatever you are doing and go exploring. Just don’t read it at work as you’ll get told of for staring out the window and dreaming about your next adventure!