Tom’s Biking Blog
Hello Hydro Guests!
My name’s Tom, and as Crieff Hydro’s keenest cycler, I’ve been asked to write a guest blog to tell you a bit about Crieff’s surrounding areas – and where’s best to get those legs working!
During my 15 years of working and living in Crieff, I’ve tried to fit in as many bike-related things as possible. I travel up and down the UK to various BMX events, run cycling coaching, write articles for bike magazines in my spare time, enter MTB races around Scotland, and take guests out on guided tours. I’ve built bike-tracks, become a trail leader and am now a Cytec qualified mechanic.
I really do live for riding bikes. It’s my favourite thing in the world (don’t let the wife know I said that!).
So as good a place as any to start, would be here at the Hydro. You’ll find our bike zone in the Hub, where we’ve teamed up with Genesis bikes – a British brand that offers bikes in a style for everyone. Although we focus mostly on the mountain bike side of things – offering a whole host of kid’s bikes, hard tails, 29ers and fat bikes – we also have a few Cyclocross bikes and Tourers for people wanting to take it a bit easier around town.
On our grounds and the Knock we have three different marked routes to try out, blue, red and black, including two red graded bike-park styled tracks for practising your skills on. Beware though, it can get muddy if the Scottish weather starts its usual shenanigans!
A lot of our trails are shared, so please have respect for the other users who may be on them at the same time. Crieff is built primarily on a hill, so even the blue track has a few uphill parts that people who don’t regularly cycle may find an effort, but just think of the guilt-free beers you can have at the end!
If you’re very keen and you’ve got the skills, Comrie Croft trail centre is within cycling distance from our hotel, and was recently given a five out of five rating by MBUK Magazine. This centre has everything a mountain biker could want, including a café, bike shop and some really fun and challenging trails. From blue to black you’ll find something to give you a thrill. I run junior coaching there on a Sunday, so you might see me there too!
As for people who like to get away from it all and want to push their fitness, Crieff has a fantastic set of hills all linked together, mostly by fire track (fire track/fire road are the wide tracks used to stop wildfire spreading, which provide a gap in vegetation and allow clearer access). From Glenturret loch you have a whole host of options, including pedalling towards Comrie taking in the views towards Loch Leadnoch.
You can go higher, to the top of the nearest Munro, Ben Chonzie, to take in the stunning views. Or go right over the back, where it’s possible to pedal to loch Tay (you might want to pack a few supplies if you’re taking on that one!). You’ll need to have an up to date OS map and be able to navigate confidently, but there are many hidden gems to be discovered. Please respect the ground nesting birds at certain times of the season.
For the more relaxed cycle there are various walking paths around Crieff that are very bike-friendly. I do fully suggest a slow pedal along the Lady Mary’s river walk, especially in Autumn when the colours of the leaves are a photographer’s dream. You’ll get to see the remains of the old steam railway track too.
Lagan hill above Lady Mary’s also gives a great pedal, and an even better view of the valley towards Comrie. You’ll see a huge, but very lonely glacier stone perched next to the upper path, and in the distance you’ll spot the old raised part of the steam railway track, snaking its way towards the hills.
I hope I’ve given you a little insight into cycling routes around the brilliant Strathearn area, and if you need a guide, I’m happy to come with you. Just swing by the Hub and book in for a guided tour!
If you end up liking your bike so much that you want to take one home, we can arrange for that to happen too, just speak to the staff if you’re interested!
Hope to see you soon