Two new MTB book guides for Scotland
Scotland boasts an amazing network of mountain biking routes and trail centres. Two new mountain biking guide books reveals some of the best places to ride. I asked the authors to pick some of their favourite routes from their own books. You can read the full article here or below.
Magical mountain biking in Scotland
Scotland is acclaimed worldwide as a mountain biking hotspot and now two new books reveal dozens of fantastic routes to explore.
The Cicerone guides describe 46 of the best mountain biking routes in Scotland, from lowlands to Highlands and on the islands.
Mountain Biking in West and North West Scotland is written by keen rider Sean Benz.
The partner book focuses on Southern and Central Scotland and is penned by Peter Edwards, of Glasgow.
Detailing everything you need to know to hit the trails, the guidebooks include 1:50,000 OS mapping, route profiles and descriptions.
There is also information on navigation, tools and maintenance, safety and equipment, as well as local accommodation, bike shops and trail centres.
Sean said: “Scotland is well known for its great trail centres but there is also an abundance of wild trails that crisscross the countryside.
“With our right of access laws, the country is open for exploration by mountain bike.
“And for such small country, there is a diverse landscape, with each region offering a unique landscape and challenge to the rider.”
Peter agrees and adds that Scotland is hard to beat as a mountain biking destination because of the “sheer range of routes” and an “incredible sense of space and wildness in hills and glens”.
Sean and Peter have picked some of their best-of-the-best routes.
Where: Morvern peninsula, north-west Highlands
Start/finish: Aoineadh Mor, Cleared Village car park, near Loch Arienas
The northwest tip of Morvern is rarely visited with most people heading for the ferry across to Mull. It’s a stunning area with the views extending over to the Isle of Mull and the Ardnamurchen peninsula.
The route gives two tough climbs with well-earned descents but without rocky technical terrain.
The final descent requires a little route finding. And look out for old mileage posts on the track from Doirlinn to Drimnin, which was built in 1880 as part of a poor relief project.
Tour of Ben Damph
Where: Torridon, Highlands
Start/finish: Loch Torridon Inn
A good track from the start heads west along the shores of Loch Torridon on what was the old road. Near Balgy the route leaves the coast and picks up a track that heads along the shore of Loch Damh, initially following a well-graded track.
At the end of the track is a cottage where the route becomes singletrack. This section can be very wet even after a few days of dry weather.
At the end of the loch the route swings east and heads into the heart of the Coulin giving a tough ride in its upper reaches.
The bealach is a beautiful place with a lochan and stunning views across to Beinn Alligin.
It’s a superb technical singletrack down to the Allt Coire Roill and on through the woods to the A869. It’s then a final descent to the Torridon Inn for a well-earned drink.
The Postman’s Track, Harris
Where: Isle of Harris.
The pretty fishing village of Tarbert is left via the road to Scalpay. After a short steep section of road climbing, the route breaks on to a hard-packed track. This follows the shores of Lochannan Lacasdail to climb steeply to the head of the glen.
At the top of the climb there are stunning views across to the east coast of Harris. A grassy descent leads down to Loch Mharaig where a very steep road climb starts through impressive mountain scenery. A very fast descent on the road leads towards the remote community of Reinigeadal.
Before Reinigeadal there is a track on to a spectacular section of singletrack that hugs the hillside high above the sea giving superb riding.
The trail drops to a small bay where a strenuous hike and bike ensues to a small pass. All that effort is rewarded with a wonderful descent on a rocky pitched trail back to Tarbert.
Lowther Hills loop
Where: Dumfries & Galloway
Start/finish: Sanquhar station.
The route follows the Southern Upland Way for a section and visits Scotland’s highest village, Wanlockhead. There is a lot of climbing but there’s also a lot of great descending.
A serpentine (traffic-free) road climb to the top of Lowther Hill might make you think you’re tackling a stage of the Tour de France, but any such illusions are dispelled once tarmac gives way to grassy track again.
The route follows a variety of farm tracks, paths, lanes and minor roads and the whole experience is enhanced by the expansive views and splendid scenery along the way.
The Tweedsmuir Hills
Where: The Borders
Start/finish: Car park on B7062 in Peebles.
This magnificent route takes in a swathe of countryside to the north, west and south of Peebles using a mixture of old drovers’ tracks, paths, forestry roads and minor roads.
A “free range” alternative to the nearby Glentress and Innerleithen trail centres, this route is based on the Natural Tweed cross country route featured in the 2012 incarnation of the Tweed Love mountain biking festival.
This is a long, tough ride that is best suited to the summer months as the route passes through a couple of farms and some of the paths are used by horse riders, creating the inevitable mud bath after wet weather.
You’ll need to have your navigation head on as route-finding can be tricky at times, but the splendid trails and magnificent scenery more than compensate.
Find details of these routes and many more in:
Cicerone Mountain Biking in Southern and Central Scotland by Peter Edwards
Cicerone Mountain Biking in West and North West Scotland by Sean Benz.
Buy from www.cicerone.co.uk priced £15.95 each.