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Mountain biking in South Scotland

Head north for a mountain biking break at a 7stanes forestry park

Published on March 1st 2011.

Mountain biking in South Scotland

If you’re looking for a great way to keep fit, or simply fancy stretching your legs this spring, mountain biking is a perfect way to spend the weekend. At the 7stanes biking centres, it’s possible to cycle through some of the most gorgeous Scottish countryside – from the heart of the Scottish Borders, to Dumfries and Galloway.

The 7stanes are seven mountain biking centres spanning the south of Scotland. The unusual name comes form the Scots word for stone (stane), and at each of the 7stanes locations, there's a stone sculpture reflecting a local myth or legend.

Whether you are a serious mountain biker, or a family with young children, nobody will feel excluded at 7stanes. With cafés, shops, bike hire and showering facilities available, experiencing a day out cycling is easy and enjoyable for the whole family.

The trails are graded by colour in varying levels of difficulty, familiar to anybody who has been to a ski resort, with the easiest ‘green’ routes that are fine for beginners, to more challenging ‘black’ routes that require more advanced fitness and technical ability. 7stanes also offers training sessions with skilled riders to help you hone your skills and build your confidence.

And with all this just three hours drive from Manchester, it’s ideal for a short break, particularly as there are so many great places to stay and eat close by. Hotels range from the luxury Aston Hotel Dumfries, to campsites, bed and breakfasts and hostels. The website www.eat-sleep-ride.com makes it easy to find somewhere that suits you.

The 7stanes sites are owned by the Forestry Commission, so even if you are not an avid cyclist, there are plenty of walks, play areas and other facilities so you can make a weekend of it. Each site offers something different, so you can ride through some of Scotland’s most beautiful forests, past stunning lochs, along rocky paths and boulder causeways, and down woodland trails.

And the best bit? Entry to all the sites is free.

The seven 7stanes sites:

Newcastleton, the closest 7stanes site to Manchester, is just past the Scotland-England boarder. It boasts a skills area with all ability loops and features, and is an excellent place to practice your skills before heading out onto the routes proper. For those looking to stretch their legs a little more, the recently upgraded 6km Caddrouns Blue trail is just the ticket and the 16km Red Route offers a fantastic ride for more experienced riders.

Ae, is less than three hours from Manchester but ride its entry-level trail up to the Water of Ae and you’ll think you are in another world. This site in particular is a great place to try your hand at downhill riding, with both entry level and more challenging downhill routes on offer.

Glentress and Innerleithen
Just over three hours drive from Manchester is the award-winning Glentress and Innerleithen, probably the best biking centre in Britain. Glentress has brilliant trails of all grades, from a beginners skills area and easy green routes to a more challenging red run and a 30km black route with over 800m of vertical climbing making up a truly epic ride. And to help cyclists of all abilities, there is a Bike Patrol on hand to provide local knowledge, bike repair and emergency assistance.

Innerleithen, situated just a few miles south east of Glentress, is home to some of the UK's finest downhill and freeride trails, as well as a cracking red-graded XC route. There’s also an uplift service for anyone who’s not keen on pushing their bikes to the top of downhill rides.

Mabie forest, the original mountain biking venue in the South West of Scotland, lies just a few miles south of Dumfries. Simple routes that are a great introduction to mountain biking, mostly on peaceful forest roads in striking surroundings, make it easy to spend a full day there.

With its coastal setting and the lack of any big hills, Dalbeattie has a relaxed feel, but the riding is far from dull – the outcrops of rock and fine views make sure of that. There’s a broad range of trails on offer but it’s the granite rock that defines the riding here. It's the black-graded sections, however, that get people talking at this site.

Kirroughtree is a favourite family venue with a wide range of trails. It’s less than four hours drive from Manchester, and there are some great places to stay in the surrounding area if you’d like to explore Galloway at the same time.

Finally, you can discover the wild heart of Galloway at Glentrool with a wide range of riding experiences, all of which start and finish at Glentrool visitor centre. Glentrool is great for less experienced riders, as all their tracks are beginner or intermediate level. These include the Big Country route, which unlike the other 7stanes trails, is all on minor public and forest roads without any single-track. At 58km it's a challenging but rewarding day out.

To find out more and plan a 7stanes weekend break, click here.

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