Destination: Ae, Dumfries and Galloway
The shortest place name in the UK and, if you play the new rules that allow proper nouns, a great one to get rid of tiles at the end of Scrabble, although aa, a type of volcanic lava, is another cracker.
Anyway, I digress. Ae is only 20 minutes from the M74 motorway but still has a real wilderness feel. There’s a bit of something for most types and abilities of riders and the Ae Line trail is best described as cross-country on steroids.
How to get there
Follow the A701 north out of Dumfries towards Moffat. Turn left after 10 miles onto a minor road, signposted Forest of Ae. The centre is on your right just after Ae village.
Sat Nav: DG1 1QB
There are currently no toilets onsite and unfortunately the main cafe is now closed but there is a mobile cafe on Thursdays and Saturdays and there’s plenty of good eating in nearby Dumfries.
The Scots do green trails so much better than the fire road dawdles you get south of the border. The 9 km Ae Valley trail is no exception and, with at least a third of it twisting but broad and well surfaced singletrack, it’s genuine fun for the whole family.
The 13.5 km blue grade Larch View trail shares its singletrack with the Ae Valley trail and, to be honest, isn’t really a step-up in level. Still family friendly but a bit of a let down for a Scottish blue.
Next is the infamous 24 km red grade Ae Line. Humorously named after the jumpy A-Line run in Whistler, the final downhill section, Omega Man, is a free-ride-esque fun-fest. There are rollable options all the way down but, if you like air beneath your wheels, you’ll love it and probably end up, like many, pushing back up and riding it again.
You’ve then got the two downhill runs. First is the Shredder. With easier options for every obstacle it’s a novice friendly run but with more than enough interest to satisfy more experienced downhillers.
The imaginatively named Ae Downhill is a different proposition. Steep, rocky, rutted and ending with the infamous 20ft field drop, it’s not for the faint hearted. Check out the Uplift Scotland link to save your legs a bit.
Parking at both the old cafe car park and the Naze car park is £3 per day.