Last week we looked at some of the best Welsh trail centres, this week it’s the turn of Scotland.
Scotland offers some of the most demanding and challenging mountain biking this side of the Alps. With the success of places like Coed y Brenin in Wales during the mid-1990s, the Scottish 7 Stanes project soon followed, and has been a hit with mountain bikers ever since. There are plenty of other trail centres outside of the seven that make up this 7 Stanes as well of course, plus the fact that mountain bikers have the right to ride any trail in Scotland thanks to the country’s forward-thinking approach to roaming laws, all meaning there’s absolutely tons of riding in Scotland.
Here’s five of the best cross-country trail centres that I think everyone should ride on a visit to Scotland.
Think I’ve missed some? Or would you rather ride wild trails? Have your say in the comments section below.Maybe you aren’t a trail centre rider at all? Wilderness only? Let us know either way.
Photo © Andy Lloyd. Kirroughtree
Regularly appearing at the top of ‘best UK trails’ lists, Kirroughtree has a good choice of trials that will suit all ability levels. With a decent skills area and a number of trail options, it’s an ideal place for skills progression. Even the 6km green route is worth riding, and warms you up for the 14km blue trail with rock drops and some good singletrack. But that’s all just preparation for the red and black grade trails, which are real corkers. The red-graded Twister has fantastic flow while the black has the now iconic rock slabs that have earned it the McMoab nickname and countless photos in magazines.
Catering for beginners right through to experts, Mabie’s trails are really nicely built, making it (in my opinion) one of the best places for a ride in the UK. There’s a skills area for honing your essential trail skills, and a good cafe for fuelling up. The red-grade Phoenix is a challenging 19km trail and once you’ve passed that, the Dark Side ‘north shore’ trail is a stern test of your balancing skills.Newcastleton
I first visited Newcastleton when I raced the inaugural 24 Hours of Exposure 24-hour solo event. The trails are a good mix of tough climbs and switchback descents and they’re not too man-made, with a very natural feel. Perfect for racing then, but also perfect for those riders who want a slightly mellower ride without an intimidating rock steps or other obstacles.
This trail centre is best known for The Slab, which is the star of the red-graded Hardrock trail. At 25km distance it’s a good test of your fitness, and will likely take a couple of hours to get around at a leisurely pace. You’ll spend a good deal of time sizing up The Slab and the Terrible Twins, both steep granite rock slopes and both of which make it well worth the visit for something a bit different.
This is probably one of the best known trail centres, which is located in the Tweed Valley. From the car park there’s all the facilities you need to get you going in the morning. As for trails, well there’s everything you could ever wish for; from a skills area to a full complement of green, blue, red and black trails. The blue-graded trail is one of the most fun around and the 18km red trail, which is mostly singletrack, is a real hoot. It’s got everything a mountain bike trail should have, from climbs to jumps, berms and speedy downhills to rocks and roots. And then there’s the 29km black trail with sections like Deliverance to push you to your limits.
Where do you rate to ride in Scotland?