Some see it as utterly mad, others beg to differ. Either way, there’s no denying the liberating feeling when you set off on a mountain biking expedition. Scotland is a particularly appealing place for such shenanigans. Nowhere else will you experience such fresh air, the abundance of wildlife, mysterious lochs, or such perfect scenery. Here, we round up the most desirable spots to go mountain biking in Scotland.
Magnificent and enchanting, Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders is a mountain biking utopia overflowing with opportunity. With multiple options regarding trails and varying grades, meandering your way through this haven is a dream. The trails, each as fabulous as the next, have been extensively thought out and offer vast, sweeping descents and riveting downhill drops. A stone’s throw away from the renowned Red Bull down-hill and cross country trails in Inverleithen and a swift cycle from Peebles, this is the kind of place worth getting lost in. The numerous activities, biker friendly accommodation, dining options and breathtaking scenery and lochs make this spot stand out.
Most definitely one for the biking bucket list, the Nevis Range, a fairytale of trails surrounding the majestic Ben Nevis, was crafted to be traversed. After all, Leanachan hosts the Mountain Bike World Cup Cross Country and the notorious Witch’s Trails contain routes from the World Cup and World Champion trails. Newbies need not worry, as the Nevis Range also caters to those a little less experienced, from cross country routes to hardcore mountain bike trails. Overflowing with challenges and surreptitious trails, many spots require a certain level of expertise. Possessing a confident sense of gumption also helps when tackling the more slippery and technical areas.
Soaking up the serenity of Clatteringshaws Loch and exploring the swathes of mystical scenery of the Galloway Hills is the best kind of therapy. This forest park is a perfect place to bring your bike to embark on a spontaneous bout of adventure. Although an ideal spot for those perfectly happy to conquer easier trails, there are some cracking sloped climbs and exhilarating descents. The visitor centre also happens to be a prime location for snacks if taking flasks seems unappealing.
A shining example of Scotland’s many personable glens, Glen Tanar is inundated with exceptional biking terrain. Situated in the dancing shadows of Mount Keen, this spot contains countless tricky mountainous routes. Besides, what’s mountain biking without the fun challenging part? The Deeside Railway, a converted cycling track, has an indescribable presence, spilling into mystical parts of the Caledonian Pine forest. The pièce de résistance is the concentric route which features Black Moss and the Water of Tanar, and old paths which once played host to tribes of cattle heading for market. Intense bikers should tackle Mount Keen and thrive on the arduous ascent and sublime emotions once completed.
Part of the globally celebrated 7 Stanes mountain bike venues, Forest Of Ae is a resplendent example of Scotland’s scenery and overall contagious vibe. This forest resembles an artist’s palette containing a kaleidoscope of colours. From countless graded trails and a wonderfully intense downhill part to intense surprises suited to deftly skilled bikers, don’t let the simple name fool you— the trails are perfectly enthralling.
Situated in the Borders and another trusty member of the 7 Stanes, Newcastleton is a hidden gem and grossly underrated. A prime spot for witnessing the raw, ineffable beauty of Scottish wildlife and riddled with history, this forest boasts undulating trails of varying degrees, making it perfect for when the whole family is involved. Those hoping for secluded tracks devoid of unwanted biking traffic will flock here like a cyclist to the Tour de France.
Legendary and graced with intrigue, Cathkin Braes is a must for any avid cyclist. With breathtaking views and notably challenging trails suited to highly experienced and seasoned fanatics, this stunner of a sanctuary was built especially for the mountain biking portion of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Trekking across this internationally famed terrain is the kind of stuff dreams are made of. The highest point in Glasgow, Cathkin Braes is 200 metres above sea level and free from any facilities, which only adds to the thrill of the adventure.