"Will you go back with gravel rash??"
Loch Lomond and Trossachs’ best kept secret
For cyclists who love ‘gravel’ riding, the Duke’s Gold gravel tour slingshots you into one of Scotland’s most magnificent areas of natural beauty – the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park where there is an abundance of great gravel and mixed-terrain along forest tracks, fire roads and dirt single tracks.
We love anything that means more folk are out having fun riding bikes in the dirt (or grit). Riding gravel bikes combines so many of our favourite things – mountains and spectacular locations – and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is one of the most magnificent locations of them all.
Combining the off-road capability of mountain biking and the lightweight, efficiency of road biking – take the tracks less travelled with us for exhilarating discoveries amidst Scotland’s hidden forests and glens. The Duke’s Gold gravel weekend break takes place in one of Britains most magnificent areas of natural beauty. Here, you will access a huge trail network, wild places on predominantly smooth gravel surfaces – forest tracks, fireroads and dirt single tracks.
With Balmaha and the award-winning Oak Tree Inn on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond as our base for the weekend, this little village with a huge heart is surrounded by a network of trails and tracks that a weekend is never going to be enough – we have a hunch you’ll be back for more.
This gravel tour breaks down all the barriers and throws away the rule book blurring the lines between mountain biking and road cycling. Join us!
- Type of TripGravel
- Technical Grading to
- Endurance Grading to
- How Long? 2 nights / 2.5 days riding
Here’s what you can expect
- The best gravel routes in the majestic Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park handpicked by our local gravel expert guide
- Professional Guide – expertly trained, hugely experienced but most of all great fun and with a wealth of local knowledge to share!
- Cosy B&B accommodation in the award-winning Oak Tree Inn in the centre of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park (Friday and Saturday).
- Scrumptious, hearty cooked breakfasts (and lighter and gluten-free options too) to set you up for the day
- Complimentary toastie and cup of tea/coffee at The Station Cafe (Aberfoyle)
- Comprehensive logistics support including first aid and mechanical assistance throughout your trip
- Detailed pre-departure information
- Trip photos
- Join the trip in Balmaha
2020 Trip Dates
- April 24th to 26th
12:00: meet at the Oak Tree Inn for a light lunch and meet the rest of the crew before saddling up for a short shakedown ride to whet your appetite for what is to come – two more days drinking (and eating) up the splendour of the Trossachs, often considered the Highlands in miniature!
After setting up the day nicely with a brew and a hearty breakfast, we venture deep into North Dukes country for some of the finest Trossachs Grit. Following in the footsteps of the legend of Rob Roy McGregor himself and his arch advisory the Duke of Montrose, we take a journey through the Great Trossachs Forest.
Mile upon mile of Forest trails and lochside singletrack we show you why this place is now regarded as the gravel capital of Scotland. Plenty of miles and smiles in the legs, it’s back to the Inn for some local ale sampling and to recharge.
A very different feel, heading south into the Lochard Forest with magnificent views of Ben Lomond and beyond. Long smooth gravel roads will have us knocking out the gravel miles and rewarded with some of the longest and most eye watering descents in the area. Finishing up with arguably the most scenic lochside trail in Scotland! We all have our favourites but you’ll just have to make your own mind up on that one.
Will you go back with gravel rash??
*The itinerary provided for each trip is representative of the types of activities contemplated, but the route, schedules, itineraries, amenities and mode of transport may be subject to alteration without prior notice due to local conditions, circumstances or events.
We want you to pick the right bike trip in Scotland for your fitness and technical ability – it helps ensure you’ll be riding with people of a similar skill level and can ride at the pace you want to ride at.
We’ve developed a trip grading based on our experience riding the terrain that features on our trips, as well as meeting and learning from riders from all over the world and understanding their expectations.
Please read the following guidelines carefully to ensure you pick a mountain bike holiday in Scotland suited to your skill and fitness. If you are unsure if a trip is right for you, please contact us.
This trip will be enjoyed by riders at technical levels 0 – 2. The goal of the Technical Rating is to understand the ability of the rider as it pertains to obstacles, conditions and trail design. This means it has nothing to do with your physical endurance, but is instead strictly a measure of your technical ability. Making sure you accurately rate your technical ability will ensure you have an exciting ride, while remaining within your ability level to keep you safe.
You have never ridden a bicycle off-road before. You have no mountain biking or gravel skills. Maybe you are a roadie, or you have some mountain biking or gravel riding friends that want you to have as much fun as them and keep pushing you to come out riding with them. This will be your first introduction to the world of mountain biking, gravel riding or bikepacking.
You are still new to mountain biking, gravel riding or bikepacking but have ridden off-road a few times before and have basic bike handling skills. You are comfortable on a mixture of double tracks and estate roads, and trails approximately 36 inches wide or more that are firm and stable, with mellower gradients, some rocks and roots but nothing too severe. You are comfortable traversing unavoidable small obstacles such as roots and rocks that are up to 2 inches tall.
You have been riding a mountain or gravel bike off-road for a season or two. You have consolidated basic bike handling skills and an appetite to progress to the next level. You are comfortable on a mixture of singletrack and landrover track, on uneven, loose and occasionally steep gradients, with some variation in trail surfaces from rocks to roots. You are comfortable on narrower trails approximately 18 inches wide that are mostly stable with some variability. You are comfortable traversing unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks and logs that are 8-10 inches tall.
This trip will be enjoyed by participants who rate themselves level 2/3 for endurance. The goal of the Endurance Rating is to understand the ability of the rider as it pertains to overall physical endurance. Riding on the road or in “Spin Class” is great and all, but gravel riding and mountain biking is a slightly different animal (ask anyone who has made the switch). The reason being is that the terrain is changing every second, which forces your entire body and your mind to be involved in the exercise process. Plus the ground we can cover on gravel bikes is phenomenal and we want to ensure you have enough stamina to enjoy the rides. This exertion will cause exhaustion to set in a lot quicker than you think. Be sure you read the descriptions carefully because we want you to have fun out there, not think this is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
You are a mountain biker or gravel rider riding once a week, or a roadie riding twice a week or more when the weather is cooperating and some days when its not. You are at an average fitness level, and regularly do other activities that qualify as exercise. You can ride on consecutive days and usually find yourself riding for 3-4 hours per day on the road, or 2 hours per day on the trails, and you ride at a relaxed or moderate pace.
You are an avid mountain biker or off-roader riding twice a week or more, and the weather isn’t a big factor for you. You are at an above-average fitness level, and regularly do other activities that qualify as exercise. You usually find yourself riding for 3 hours on the trails, you’ll ride on consecutive days, and you ride at a moderate pace.
Where we stay during our gravel bike tours of Scotland plays almost as big a part in the overall experience as the trails we ride.
We use a wide variety of accommodation, and for this gravel trip, we think the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha offers the perfect blend of traditional charm, fine food, drink and the warmest hospitality.
Renowned & accredited for great Country Pub Dining, serving superb “Scottish” Cask Marque awarded Ales & selected Craft Beers the Oak Tree Inn also happens to be on the doorstep of Scotland’s finest gravel trails whilst being less than 1hr from Glasgow. Lucky us!
Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Gravel biking in Scotland means you will be hungry (very hungry!) and there are opportunities to enjoy great fresh Scottish fayre and of course a dram or two and a fine ale on this gravel biking trip.
This trip is offered on a bed and breakfast basis.
There will be opportunities for you to buy packed lunch provisions to carry on the rides, or, depending on routes we may enjoy a great cafe stop or lunch at a traditional Inn (your guides will let you know the plan each day).
We estimate a budget of £15 to £20 per person per day is adequate for lunches and refreshments.
Three days riding (shakedown ride plus two full days) the Trossach’s finest gravel trails, expertly curated to make you want more
More beautiful mountains, lochs and glens than you can imagine amidst the national park
Professional Guide/s – expertly trained, hugely experienced but most of all great fun and with a wealth of local knowledge to share!
Two nights twin/double room accommodation in Balmaha at the award-winning Oak Tree Inn
Full Scottish breakfasts to set you up for the day
Complimentary toastie and cup of tea/coffee at The Station Cafe (Aberfoyle)
Full laundry and drying facilities
Secure bike storage
Bike wash facilities
Qualified first aid assistance
Mechanical assistance throughout your trip
Detailed pre-departure information
Trip photo album
Meals and drinks except those stated above (some menu items attract a supplement e.g seafood & steak)
Additional transportation or accommodation should you require it
Additional accommodation before, during or after the trip
Baggage / bike box collection & storage
Single room supplement (if applicable)
Start / Finish Point
Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha
We designed the Dukes Gold gravel tour not to favour one type of bike over another. Any bike with decent off-road tyres and brakes will be perfectly capable on this gravel adventure. Most of you might even have a suitable “Gravel” bike in the garage without realising it. Mountain Bikes and Cyclocross bikes are very well suited and many hybrid and commuting bikes would be great if the tyres have a bit of off-road bite. For those using mountain bikes, we recommend running higher tyre pressures or slightly less chunky tyres (new tyres are not essential!).
Our take on the various permutations available. A cyclo-cross bike will offer light weight, fast rolling and an aerodynamic advantage over a mountain bike whilst the comfort and smoothing out of the trail by fatter MTB tyres and suspension will certainly help on occasions and you could well benefit from the improved handling of a MTB elsewhere too. You may even be the owner of one of a new breed of gravel bike which combine elements of Cross and MTB. They are not essential for the Dukes Gold gravel tour but they are awesome.
If you prefer not to travel with your bike, or you’d like to try something new, we have access to some great gravel bikes from Scott, Cube and Focus.
If you’re interested in hiring a great gravel bike for your weekend cycling break, we have fantastic deals from our retail partners – available from £50 per day – so please just ask or add this option to your trip on the booking page
If you’re hiring a bike, for your safety and comfort we always recommend bringing your own helmet and pedals
Groups & Individuals
We welcome solo travellers (in fact most of our guests travel solo) but did you know that if you’re making a group booking (2+ riders) you’ll automatically save money at the checkout (up to 18%) whether you’re booking for a club, colleagues, friends or family – whoever’s in your tribe.
To secure a booking, we require a 25% deposit when the reservation is made, with the balance payable within 60 days of your booking commencement. For bookings made less than 60 days before booking commencement, full payment is required at the time of booking.
Our guides are fully trained and qualified to the highest standards required to operate in the environments where our trips take place.
Scotland is a beautiful but wild place. When you pay for our services, you’re paying for the reassurance that we know our way around the mountains, how to read people, the local conditions, logistics, fix mechanicals and always have a another ‘plan A’ up our sleeve.
As well as being extraordinarily great human beings (as standard!), all our guides hold, as a minimum, the Mountain Bike Leader qualification and emergency outdoor first aid qualifications. We believe these to be the most robust and rigorous qualifications in the business and the minimum standard for running trips like ours in Scotland. They’re not easy to come by but your enjoyment is our main concern.
An adventure wouldn’t be an ‘adventure’ without a degree of risk. It’s our job to manage those risks so you have the best time possible. As well as substantial field first aid kits, your guide will be packing (or distributing among the group) essential group emergency items including mobile telecom’s, VHF long-range radios, emergency survival shelters, and extra emergency clothing and supplies.
Speaking of guides – we operate with the highest ratio of professional guides to clients in the industry. The current regulations permit one guide per group of eight. We don’t always agree this is acceptable. We’re a lot more comfortable with at least two staff per eight clients, and a maximum group size of eight in the sensitive mountain environments we run our trips. Sure, we might not be the most profitable outfit in the industry but we strive to be the safest.
We employ robust late back procedures, and every trip is fully risk assessed. Daily. While no one can guarantee a 100% safe trip, we do everything possible to minimise risks. And long before we depart we ensure the trip is suitable for you – none of this one size fits all approach – it simply doesn’t work.
Only one thing matches our desire to enjoy Scotland’s amazing outdoors and that’s our commitment to contribute to sustainable adventure tourism in Scotland.
We operate ‘small footprint’ bike adventures to minimise any negative environmental impacts of running our business. We are often asked about running large group trips in remote, sensitive locations but in line with our safety and environmental policy – that’s not really our forté. There are other outfits who operate this way, but we’re in it for the long haul and without preserving and managing the environments we hold so dear – we don’t have a business in the long run.
As well as being members of the key environmental organisations in Scotland, we encourage our clients to consider their interaction with the environments they are riding wherever possible. We also make use of local hospitality, products and services to ensure our trips contribute economically to the rural environments we enjoy so much. We took another small step in the right direction recently by becoming members of ‘1% for the Planet’. But we must always do more.
Consumer Financial Protection
Our Consumer Financial Protection insurance protects your money. This is in fact a legal requirement but not every adventure company even knows this and some choose to ignore it. Why? Because it’s expensive and complicated to become fully insured in this way, and not every application is accepted. Ours was. Your money is safe with us.
Tour Operators Liability
Did you know that in the UK it’s us, the tour operators, who are liable for all aspects of your gravel bike holiday package in Scotland? That’s why we have ‘Tour Operators Liability Cover’. It’s always worth asking your supplier if they have this insurance and you are properly protected. You need it and they should have it.
We work hard to maintain high professional standards but you probably wouldn’t know it because we’re having way too much fun most of the time. Ten years on it still puts the biggest smile on our faces when our clients take time out to tell us how much they enjoyed their bike trip in Scotland. See what ‘Our Clan’ have to say about their bike holidays on Google and via our trip reviews.
A good, strong gravel/cross tyre with decent tread if you’re on a gravel bike, or, for MTBs we’d go with a lightweight xc tyre