Route 78: Scotland’s cycle-tourism opportunities showcased in Caledonia Way video

Sustrans Scotland‘s  transformed cross-country cycle route – the Caledonia Way – is celebrated in a new video in which Route 78 highlights Scotland’s cycle-tourism opportunities.

The national cycle network is a serious achievement and one that could not be better attuned to extending both access and awareness of the heart of Scotland’s nature and attraction.

The Caledonia Way Route 78 will be launched officially later this year when its upgrading is fully complete.

This programme of upgrades to a route which stretches all the way from Campbeltown to Inverness is scheduled for completion this spring.

Work done has included:

  • constructing traffic-free paths for walking and cycling between Oban and Fort William – which began in 2007 and will be concluded this spring;
  • upgrading the Fort William to Inverness section of the route – the Great Glen Cycle Way – which was completed by Transport Scotland in October 2015.

In advance of the official launch, Sustrans Scotland has launched a video which shows off the scenery which can be enjoyed along the route – and introduces some of the communities which it connects.

The route adds to Scotland’s National Cycle Network, which Sustrans Scotland has estimated brings in several hundred millions of pounds in spending from cycle tourism and home users. Sustrans’ figures show that in 2014 the estimated spend of tourists on the National Cycle Network was £126 million; while the value of home-based spending on the activity in that year was £249 million.

John Lauder, Sustrans Scotland’s National Director, says: ‘The new and improved Caledonia Way will be a fantastic addition to Scotland’s cycle-tourism offer. Given Scotland’s growing National Cycle Network and breath-taking scenery, it’s not hard to see why cycle tourism and leisure tourism are valued at hundreds of millions of pounds. The Caledonia Way will make a fantastic addition to this growing industry.

‘The route will also enable local people to get active by making those everyday journeys by bike – whether it’s the commute to work or school, a trip to the shops, or to visit friends.

‘Our great new video highlights Scotland is a must-visit destination for cycle-tourism – and for people here in Scotland a reminder of the fantastic cycling and scenery on their door-step.’

Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport & Islands says: ‘This new route will bring multiple benefits to rural communities in the area and will help promote active travel across the country.

‘I look forward to seeing this route, including the Great Glen Cycleway, becoming one of our flagship routes and welcoming record number of bike users to the area.’

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, says: ‘From the tranquillity of Campbeltown to the ‘outdoor capital of the UK’, the completion of the Caledonia Way improvements will allow our visitors to experience the beauty of Scotland’s undulating west-coast landscape on two wheels.

‘Scotland is world-renowned for being one of the best destinations for cycling tourism and this final stage in improvements presents a huge opportunity for the local visitor economy to grow.

‘From restaurants to accommodation providers, businesses can capitalise on this year-long leisure pursuit as we encourage visitors to ‘get on their bike’ and explore our stunning country.’

A plea for the wild

The Caledonia Way video can be viewed online here. It’s well worth a look and genuinely does heighten interest in taking the two-wheeled ways around the glorious national cycle network Sustrans has been building.

Everyone will see views that they would have liked to se included – and we’d mourn the absence of the strength and untamed beauty of Westport Beach near Campbeltown – with surfers – but what is there in the video is varied and breathtaking in its own right.

Tourism promotions cannot help themselves but paint in bright primary colours and present the relatively manicured –  so this does make Scotland look a tad Hollywood via a particularly Victorian sense of the picturesque.

This excludes the sense of bare wildness and the beauty of the unmanaged. In this the video suggests more of the ethos of cycling for softies than is actually the case in the demanding topography of this country.

Fellow addicts of the BBC’s Countryfile will recently have seen the redoubtable Ellie Harrison cycling up the Pass of the Cattle above Loch Kishorn, against strong winds and rain -with little between her and that heartstopping dry valley hundreds of feet below. That was wild Scotland, that was unforgettable – and somehow she kept going.

Scotland is always spectacular but it is a tough and demanding country as much as it is a sweet and responsive one. There are rewards in both.

It would be good to see a national tourism agency that was unafraid of the tough and celebrated it. It is often the route to the seriously unsurpassable nature of this place.

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