Scotland is one of the world’s leading destinations for mountain biking. Not only is the terrain ideal, but the breathtaking scenery is the perfect backdrop and the number of expertly-designed trails appearing all over the country is growing rapidly.
There is an infectious enthusiasm for the sport in Scotland, which was named a mountain biking ‘global superstar’ by the International Mountain Bicycling Association in both 2005 and 2006. Top destinations include:
- Fort William – famous the world over in mountain biking circles thanks to the Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup, which was first held in 2002 and attracts up to 17,000 spectators, and the 2007 Union Cycliste Internationale Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, which attracted more than 40,000 visitors over six days.
- The Isle of Arran – known as ‘Scotland in miniature’, it offers deep glens, magnificent mountains and stunning beaches.
- Glentress – Scotland’s biggest and most popular mountain bike centre and the unofficial hub of the sport in Scotland.
- Golspie – the Highland Wildcat trails on Ben Bhraggie include the longest freeride descent in the United Kingdom.
- Kirroughtree – mountain biking at the tougher, more epic end of the scale that is worth the two-hour drive from Scotland’s central belt.
- Learnie – the Red Rock trails north of Inverness criss-cross intricately and at one point are so tight that sections have been cut out of trees to allow handlebars through.
- Lochgilphead – the Fire Tower trail includes big climbs and thrilling descents along with views of the islands of Jura, Scarba and the Gulf of Corryvreckan.
- Pitfichie – has hosted events in the Scottish Downhill Association race series successfully in the past and is perfect for more adventurous mountain bikers.
- Carron Valley – the most central mountain biking trails in Scotland, with Glasgow and Stirling only a 20-minute drive away and Edinburgh and Perth only 40 minutes away.
- Drumlanrig – Unique in Scotland in that it offers dedicated trails on a private estate.
- Innerleithen – primarily a centre for downhill riding, but also has a serious, challenging cross country route.
- Balblair – has a fun route for competent bikers and a challenging route for experienced riders, with sensational views over the Kyle of Sutherland.
- Cairngorms National Park – ideal for those who like their mountain biking raw and adventurous.
- Pollok Country Park – three circuits set in the heart of Glasgow and ideal for all levels of mountain biking.
It would be wrong for cycling enthusiasts to dismiss Scotland as nothing more than a playground for mountain bikers. There is no doubt that mountain bikers will feel right at home, but those who prefer a more sedate pace can enjoy Scotland’s fresh air, unforgettable scenery, wildlife and unique cultural heritage. Cycling allows time to explore the country more closely and at a pace that suits.
There’s no need to be king of the mountains to cycle in Scotland either, as plenty of easy routes can be found. Glasgow to Loch Lomond, off-road round Edinburgh, the East Neuk of Fife with its fishing villages and sea views, the Speyside Way and the Trossachs can all provide easy routes suitable for the whole family.