Video & Photo Story: The Best Hand Cut Trails in Scotland, Perthshire

Nov 18, 2021
by Scott Laughland  

I'm super excited to share episode 1 of my first ever short film series aptly named, 'Scotty's Scotland Showcase!' In this first episode, I visit Perthshire and showcase the region's diversity through riding locations, Dunkeld, Comrie Croft and Aberfeldy. The hills here are rolling rather than being mountainous but that doesn’t hold the region back, it’s got some of the best MTB trails in Scotland.

Dunkeld as a location is steeped in race history, having held various regional downhill and enduro races. Now, it’s a popular trail riding destination and it’s the community that have developed its vast network of trails. There are 4 main hills surrounding the village all littered with trails and each have their own style, no two trail are the same. It’s famous for natural, steep and hand cut trails that are rooty, rocky and challenge any rider of any ability. Dunkeld is a special place to me, it’s where my love for MTB’ing started - I’ve got so many memories of riding here. I competed in my first ever SDA race here and did it on a hardtail which looking back is pretty wild, it was and still is a gnarly track! Over the last number of years with the popularity of riding natural hand cuts trails increase, I’ve seen it first hand grow to be popular riding location.

Comrie Croft is a natural trail centre offering a blue, red and black plus a skills park. It’s rideable year-round, thanks to its rocky base and the centre offers bike hire, a shop with servicing, a cafe, camping on site and a farm shop where they sell the veg they grow on site. Aberfeldy is a developing bike park that offers a good mix of riding, from blues to blacks all the trails are lovingly hand built and cared for by the local riding community. It's Perthshire's newest location and I'm super excited to see how it continues to develop!

A Dunkeld special, rocks, roots and in the trees - this is one of my favourite trails, Eastpoint.

It was the first time I'd seen the forests like this, there were huge ferns everywhere.

It's got a kinda jurassic feel to it.

I mean look at the greenery, you can barely even see the rider.

This is the top of Dunkeld's Rake and Ruin, huge views over Perthshire before dropping into a loose shale.

Coming out of the tree-line and heading for the ruin.

The forest floors around Perthshire are just stunning.

Views out of the trees and right over Perthshire.

Does it get any more quaint? Dunkeld itself is full of loads of amazing independent shops and cafes.

Views right down to Dunkeld village from The Rudder, on this trail you'll be steering with the rear.

Aberfeldy's, Blue View and you can see why.

Dropping into Aberfeldy's, Shredo.

Abberfeldy Shredo
The berms certainly go well.

Abberfeldy Shredo
The dirt here is absolutely incredible, we had it in primo conditions.

Abberfeldy Shredo
The trail features some of the best turns I've ridden in a while, it just works.

Aberfeldy Top of the World
Perthshire's famous for it's big trees but Aberfeldy's going to become famous for MTB'ing.

Aberfeldy Top of the World
Triple through the trees on Top of the World.

Aberfeldy Top of the World
One of the things that gets me about the 'Top of the World' trail is as you descend, the trail style significantly changes. Here in the lower section, we're now in a loamy malchy forest.

Aberfeldy Top of the World
Look at that beautiful hand cut trail.

Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters
My other favourite thing about Aberfeldy, the Glen Lyon coffee shop.

Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters
All my post ride needs covered.

I'm creating the entire series carbon neutral. All the emissions will be offset, each episode will have a slightly different story line around sustainability and the advertising revenue generated from viewership will be split across planting more trees in Scotland and the local trail associations.

In this episode, my sustainability focus is on supporting locally owned independent businesses and the 3 locations we're riding in have many. It's important that we as MTB'ers support these businesses, are seen as valued customers in the communities and this will help us to continue to develop and grow the ever emerging trail network in these locations.

Produced by Scotty Laughland
Cinematography by Glen Thomson
Photography by Jonny Cook
Graphics by Scott Muirhead
Archive images by Ian Linton

Regions in Article


  • 26 1
 The «planting more trees»-goal should be modified, if it’s one thing you don’t need in Scottland, it’s more industrial fast-growing american sitka spruce plantations. Iit grows fast, spreads, and kills off biodiversity on the forest floor by letting no light through.
It has an environmenral impact totally different from planting birch, larch, pine, and oak. A forest with a variety of differently aged trees has the most biodiversity, but it is seldom financially sound for any landowner.
  • 8 0
 An overpopulation of deer in also problematic (that no one wants to deal with) in a lot of upland Scotland - they eat all the new growth (self seeded native / deciduous trees) and contribute to our upland mono-cultures.
  • 6 0
 All good points, it would be good to know that the trees being planted are for one of the native woodland projects. And large scale things happening too, see for example ...
  • 3 0
 Also should have added ...As a Perthshire dweller, it’s great to see ‘home’ trails being featured. Such great riding to be had here, and really enjoyed the riding in the vid. Good work Scotty
  • 3 0
 @Ynotgorilla @bmxconan Really glad to hear these points being made regarding the use of 'offsetting', it would be great to see riders like Scotty use their platform to educate riders about some of the environmental and land management issues specific to Scotland.

The John Muir Trust recently commissioned a documentary with Scottish climber, Dave MacLeod, to discuss Scotland's lack of montane woodland (National Trust for Scotland has a good article on this for those who are interested). I think a similar conversation from the perspective of mountain biking in Scotland would be a really interesting addition to a series like this.
  • 5 0
 @Jethro1: l'm hoping to work with Trees for Life on this! Right now, I'm chatting to them about the best options and also seeing if there's an opportunity where I can feature their work as a part of the series.
  • 1 0
 Depends if your main concern is 'increasing biodiversity' or 'capturing C02'. for the first one mixed and deciduous forests are better. For the second, I believe you, fast growing trees such as pine plantations, are better
  • 1 0
 @ScottyLaughland: that would be excellent, look forward to that.
  • 1 0
 excllnt introduction of perthshire to a stateside rider like me. we have been tossing around a trip to wales & scotland for a few years now. the fact that I can rent a bike there makes perthshire one of our destinatrions, for sure!
  • 1 0
 I'm not 100% sure how I feel about specific trail names being mentioned in videos and articles? These trails aren't machine built and indestructible. They are sensitive and require responsible access, maybe that's something that could be incorporated into future videos? Exposure isn't always a good thing. But there's no doubt Scotty does an excellent job of promoting the Scottish MTB scene!
  • 3 0
 All valid points and I totally get your opinion, I've tried to be as sensitive as possible. Many have been raced on and all are 'listed' trails on multiple apps that if anyone knew of the location, they'd be able to find with a little bit of research. Episode 2 + 3 both discuss Scottish trail rights and work trail associations are doing. It's worth noting that the ad revenue generated from the series is being donated between planting more native trees to our landscape and the trail associations so they can keep doing what they do!
  • 4 0
 Bit of a hand job making this trails
  • 3 0
 Good to see these gems being celebrated. Refreshing after the usual tweed valley saturation!
  • 1 2
 I have built some 2 km of hand built pump track near Montrose if are looking for some new trials trails build to fit in with the environment, call it environmental sculpture if you like
But built on flood plan of local river & are still ride-able in most weather when not underwater
If nothing else will make a good edit ?
Let me know if would like to ride/ film?
  • 2 0
 His new one is out of Aberdeen too - very well produced!!!
  • 1 0
 Thank you - I had a great team working on this and we're really stoked on the outcome of it!
  • 4 1
 Pick up a spade Scotty
  • 4 0
 He's dug plenty of trails around Stirling in his time.
  • 2 0
 No episode from D&G planned - seems an oversight?
  • 3 0
 There isn't in this season - I choose my 6 favourite locations that I regularly ride at and have personal stories that go with. I've also been working on a series with DMBinS that will be out next year that does feature D & G.
  • 1 0
 This series is awesome. Riding, locations, and filming are all top notch and the sustainability angle is great as well.
  • 2 1
 Great Riding and Vid! Trails and scenery are amazing!
  • 1 0
 On the bucket list, looks unreal
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