A guest blog from Mike Murray at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews
Scotland has lots to offer, from exploring the Scottish Highlands, amazing craft beers, beef, seafood and a cheeky whisky after a long day riding.
Scottish trail centres can be ridden all year round. Mountain biking enthusiasts from around the world come to Scotland to take advantage of the open mountain paths, steep climbs and the dare devil drops through the forest.
Not to mention the break taking landscapes. If you can ride fast here, then you will have the skills to tackle any trail. We will now look at some of the most recognised Scottish mountain biking trails.
Kirroughtree may be hard to pronounce. Its even harder to reach. However, it’s definitely worth it. Situated in the southwest corner of Scotland.
If you feel like you have driven to the middle of nowhere. If you keep driving you will reach Kirroughtree. A rocky, and rooty single track through the forest. Home to one of the longest black listed loops in Scotland called Black Craigs.
The fast flowing, rocky terrain, and technical features will test your mountain biking skills. One of the biggest highlights of Kirroughtree is the well-known “McMoab stabs” that are based on Utah trails.
The climate and scenery in Scotland are quite different. Kirroughtree is one of the seven stanes mountain biking destinations.
The drive to Glenlivet is breath taking. Home to the world renowned Glenlivet whiskey that is definitely worth trying after a day at the trail. Glenlivet trail can be found in the heart of the Glenlivet estate.
One of the main benefits of the Glenlivet trail is that it's designed for mixed abilities. The technical parts are optional, and allow you to build up your confidence at your own pace.
Situated on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, well-known for its ancient woodlands visited by walkers and backpackers.
Glenlivet has two incredible trail loops. The single-track cuts through the forest with some extraordinary landscapes that makes the climbs fade from memory. After a day at the Glenlivet trail, a visit to the distillery at the Glenlivet estate is highly recommended.
Laggan Wolftrax is situated in The Highlands. Most well-known for its rocky black trail, Ayres rock, that tests the bravest mountain bikers.
The red loop has upper, and lower sections that allows you to get a quick exit if it gets too much. Its near Fort William and is worth a visit, or a quick pit stop at the Dalwhinnie distillery for a refreshment.
There is a small shop called Bothy Bikes that offer bike hire, servicing, or purchasing a mountain biking necessity. A great place to ask any trail related questions.
Comrie Croft is situated in Perthshire and has won many awards for the unique trail and offering on site accommodation. It offers a 12-mile network of single tracks with a variety of blue, red, or black trails.
One of Scotland’s best berm filled trails that have technical, rocky or rooty single tracks.
A really good trail for all the family. There is a skills park and a full-sized pump track. Facilities at Comrie Croft include an onsite shop and a café. Guests can choose between a hostel bed, camping, and Nordic katas.
Glentress – (Tweed Valley)
Glentress has over 55 miles over single-track loops alone. The busiest trail centres in the UK, with over 300,000 visitor per year. A brilliant trail centre to take the family as there is a trail for all abilities.
The Glentress trail has long, but not too technical trails. Ideal for tackling on a sunny day. The views are truly stunning.
For less intense trails, the GT Red and Blue lines are definitely worth trying. The Spooky woods is one of the most ridden trails in the UK, offering tabletops, descents and pure speed.
Situated 22 miles south from Edinburgh, it is easily accessible. There are lots of natural trails to explore and it offers a true mountain biking haven.
Innerleithen (Tweed Valley)
Only a short ride from Glentess. However, it feels like you have landed in a different world. The downhill trails at Innerleithen are renowned for being the best in the UK. No wonder why British mountain bikers do so well on technical World cup courses.
Innerleithen has a mix of natural and endure trails built by Dick Hamilton, cutting through the forest and offer steep drops. There are plenty of options for riders of different abilities.
A new uplift service was created in 2018, known as Adrenalin Uplift that operates Monday to Friday. You might want to try the Cresta Run; a hand-built trail. Offering you a twisty, tight and rooty trail.
Golfie is only across the road, it’s a perfect way to test your biking skills on the challenging steeps and roots.
Fort William is one of the most famous mountain biking trails in Scotland. Hosting the UCI DH World Cup sixteen years ago, witnessed by an amazing 20,000 mountain biking enthusiasts. The weather changes as often as the trail changes- you can expect four seasons in a day.
In addition to the technical trails, there are many family friendly trails for all abilities.
Scotland is brilliant for taking part in some open mountain biking. You can ride anywhere as long as it’s done in a reasonable manner. Sticking to well-designed paths and not damaging the land, or conflicting with other road users.
If you don’t feel confident navigating Scotland on your own you can contact a mountain biking guide.
One of the main benefits off going with a local mountain biking guide is taking advantage of their local knowledge, and make the most out your time out on the trail. They will make sure you get to see some amazing views.
What to expect at the Trail Centre
Visiting a trail centre is a brilliant way to hone your mountain biking skills in a safe and controlled way. However, they can be intimidating when you first arrive.
When you arrive at the trail carpark there is normally a charge for parking. Don’t forget to pay as it will be going towards the general up keep of the trail. You will see people looking hardcore on expensive bikes. However, don’t be intimidated as everyone had to start somewhere.
The majority of trail centres will have trail grading to help you pick a trail that best fits your ability and personal preference.
Green – easy and family trail. Most commonly fire roads or bike paths. Normally fairly short and are ideal for first timers
Blue- beginner trail. Similar to green trails. However, there will be more single tracks, climbs and longer trails. You might find a few mellow rocks, berms and roots to get your MTB juices going.
Red – intermediate trails. For more advanced riders. You will find more single tracks, more technical, tricker drops and descents. The majority of red routes are still rollable.
Black – expert trails. They consist of technical climbs, steep drops and big jumps. Momentum is your best friend when tackling tricky trail.
Pro Line – For the professional, for crazy mountain bikers with large drops and jumps. If it your first time at the trail. It may be worth keeping well away.
The majority of trail centres have a bike shop to get some basic necessities. Some include bike hire, servicing and maybe some refreshments. It may be good to check the trail website for the particular facilities at the trail. If you have any questions regarding the trail the bike shop is definitely the place to go.
If you’re thinking of visit a trail for the first time don’t forget the basic necessities for a day of mountain biking- a tube, multi tool, snacks, water, bike bump and waterproof clothing. Check the weather so you are prepared for the unpredictable British weather.
Spending a lot of time at the trail you will come across other mountain bikers with different ability levels. If a fast rider comes up behind you move over to the side safely. On the other hand, if you want to get past someone give them a polite wave to let them know your intention.
We hope you have enjoyed the article on “The Best Mountain Bike Trails in Scotland" and found it more helpful and informative. You may like to read our comprehensive Beginners Mountain biking guide at Road and Mountain Biking Reviews. .
All mountain bikers remember their first time. Riding across different types of terrains, rocks and across rivers can be exciting and fun. However, it can also be daunting and terrifying. With practice it gets easier and a lot more fun.
There are a few tips that every mountain biker wished they knew when starting out. Here at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews we have put together a few tips to help a mountain biking enthusiast take their skills to the next level.
A mountain bike is designed for tackling technical terrain. The best thing to do, is let the mountain bike do its job. Staying relaxed and staying loose will help the mountain bike move beneath the rider. The more complex the terrain, the more room the mountain bike needs. When riding downhill, a rider should think about pushing up arms while pushing out their legs.
Learning to allow the bike to move beneath them will allow the rider to float over most obstacles. Having a relaxed grip of the handle bars will help the relaxation of the elbows and forearms.
Momentum can be a mountain bikers’ best friend. Maintaining momentum or holding speed can be beneficial for a rider to cover technical terrain with more ease. Reducing the speed can sometimes make certain types of terrain much trickier. A rider should try and maintain speed whenever they can. However, only as long as they feel safe and in control of the bike.
Do not forget to switch your body weight. When climbing, a rider should lean forward, and try to keep the centre of gravity over the back wheel. On a downward trail, the rider should go in the opposite direction. Positioning the body in the correct way will allow the rider to move through the climb or descent much easier.
A common mistake by mountain bikers is to pull on the brakes. Mountain bike brakes are designed to modulate the speed with one or two fingers. Change the pace of the mountain bike before the turn, rocks or technical will allow the rider to have a better control of the bike.
If the rider feels like they are going too fast, use the right brake for the back brake. The bike may skid, but at least there is less chance of the rider going over the handle bars. Spending some time becoming familiar with the brakes will allow the rider to learn how to control the bike and how it responds.
The majority of entry level mountain bikers think that they have only two settings. Locked and not using the brake. When the brake is locked, the rider gets less control. The most power comes from the front brake. The rider should be careful not to use too much braking power. When a rider is descending, learning to feather the brake will help the rider control the bike.
Now that a rider has got familiar with the brakes. The rider should spend time getting to know the gears on the bike, so they can change the pace of the bike to the riding conditions they are faced with.
Mountain bike trails have a wide combination of terrain, combined with climbs and descents. Learning, how to shift comfortably between gears will help the rider maintain momentum- a mountain biker's best friend.
The majority of mountain bikes have some sort of front suspension, allowing the rider to role over bumps unnoticed. They only work if the rider has them set on an active position. A rider should take a minute to learn how to set their suspension. Be careful, a rider does not want to totally lock their suspension to fully rigid on the trail.
Entry level mountain bikers tend to stare directly on the obstacle or rock they are trying to avoid. The bike tends to go in the direction that the eyes are fixed on. Looking past the obstacle, to the direction the rider wants to go, far down the trail and keeping their head straight will help the rider move with more ease down the trail.
Riding with better riders not only helps push oneself, but it also helps the rider pick up some of the more experienced mountain bikers' riding habits. For example, how they handle themselves on the trail, the mountain bike and prepare for a day out on the trail. These valuables skills can be picked up by watching more experienced riders.
Learning to perform a wheelie or a nose wheelie can be very beneficial for a rider while out on the trail. Pulling a wheelie to get over an object, or a nose wheelie so the rear of a mountain bike misses the object.
Even if a mountain biking enthusiast can’t perform a wheelie, knowing how to take the weight off the bike, will make parts of the trail much smoother and easier to control. Pulling wheelies is much easier with clipless pedals.
Once a rider has explored their local trails, exploring new trails will help the rider sharpen their mountain biking skills and allow the rider to challenge themselves. This will eventually allow the rider to become a better all-rounder mountain biker.
No one becomes a better mountain biker overnight. It takes time and practice. Spending more time on the bike, riding to the local shops, to work or to the local park will improve a rider's riding skills. There may be no need for a monthly gym subscription.
Mountain Bike Groups
Throughout the country there many mountain biking groups that cycling enthusiasts can join. There is nothing more rewarding than spending time with people who share your passion. It is an ideal way of building up a cycling enthusiast's knowledge of mountain biking. A wide range of mountain biking groups are also available online.
Sitting in the saddle
Mountain bikes are equipped with a saddle. However, that doesn’t mean you have to use it all the time. More experienced mountain bikers refrain from sitting in the saddle as much as possible as the riders legs act as the perfect shock absorbers. There’s a lot to absorb. A second benefit of being off the saddle, is that the rider can easily and quickly switch their body weight to help control the bike.
Mountain Biking Attire
Mountain biking attire can vary considerably depending on weather, time of the day and locations. Checking the weather forecast can allow the rider to find out how many layers they should wear.
The rider should refrain from going out in their best clothing and wear comfortable clothing that the rider doesn’t mind getting dirty or damaged. Investing in a pair of padded shorts can be beneficial, with a pair of good quality mountain biking shoes. The rider should not forget about wearing a good quality trail helmet. Studies have shown, wearing a bike helmet can reduce serious head injury by seventy percent.
If a rider is thinking about spending the day out at the trail it’s definitely worth them taking more than their credit card. Having some small snacks and a drink to keep away any dehydration and hunger pains is always a good idea.
Mountain biking can be no fun if a rider is riding on any empty stomach or a dry mouth. Packing an extra tube in case of a puncture can definitely come in handy. Learning how to change a flat will definitely come in handy if a rider is thinking about biking on a regular basis.
Opportunities to Improve
All mountain bike trails are different with a wide range of climbs, descents, terrains and technical parts. Entry level mountain bikers can find it daunting. Taking the plunge on every ride to try something different will improve a rider's mountain biking skills. Always skipping the opportunity over fear will cause the rider not to improve. However, a rider should only take on a new challenge if they feel it is safe to do so.
Exploring a new trail is no fun if you're hearing funny noises as you pedal. Mountain bikes require regular maintenance. One of the best ways of maintaining a bike is getting into a good habit of cleaning it on a regular basis. Cleaning the bike on a regular basis will allow the rider to spot any wear and tear before it turns into a more serious issue.
Taking a few minutes to check over the bike can save the rider from a long walk home. Checking the air in the tires is at the required PSI level as flat tires can cause
the bike to work a lot harder. The required PSI level can be found in the instruction manual.
Testing the brakes by rolling the bike back and forth by gently applying the brake lever. Check that the brake pads have not worn out. Make sure the chain is working efficiently with the relevant lubricant applied.
We hope you have enjoyed our article on Sharpening Up Your Mountain Biking Skills and found it helpful and informative. A guest blog from Mike Murray at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle. Follow my blog on Facebook: