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Inspired by a desire to seek out and create adventures closer to home, Explore Your Boundaries became an opportunity for Markus Stitz and Mark Beaumont to see the familiar with refreshed eyes. Together, they mapped 24 Scottish council boundary routes to encourage people to stay active, whether cycling or walking, and to inspire adventures that start and finish at their front door.
‘The thing I love about the Explore Your Boundaries concept is that it forced us to find routes which we never would have looked for,’ explains Beaumont. ‘Often it felt like we were in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and yet if I stopped and thought about it, I was only 25 miles from home. It’s really interesting when you have a project, a journey, which is defined by a route which is not necessarily the trail itself. Straight-lining expeditions have always fascinated me, and in a weird way this felt like a straight-lining expedition, because we were following this predefined line.’
Their new documentary captures their four adventures in Clackmannanshire, East Lothian and Falkirk, undertaken between June and September 2021, and Glasgow, undertaken during COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, in November 2021.
‘Often it felt like we were in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and yet if I stopped and thought about it, I was only 25 miles from home
To create the routes, they uploaded the council boundaries GPX files onto the mapping platform Komoot and matched them with the closest existing pathways.
‘The idea of ‘Explore Your Boundaries’ was born in the second lockdown of 2020,’ tells filmmaker Markus Stitz. ‘We turned the limitation of having to start any exercise within or close to the boundary of our local council area Edinburgh, into an opportunity. We used the council boundaries to map 24 different gravel routes throughout Scotland. From the feedback on social media those routes inspired people to ride their bikes. And they motivated us to get this film project off the ground.’
The routes along the boundaries of Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Falkirk and Glasgow allow cyclists the opportunity to not only to experience the varied landscapes, but also offered them an insight into the historic places they experienced along the way.
‘I can think of so many examples, from this project where I’ve learned different parts of Scotland’s history,’ says Beaumont. ‘They would have passed me by if I was just going out to do a training ride.’