|Scotland - Mountain Bike Trail Review with Map and Pictures|
Description - Scotland has been on the Hitlist for far too long and I can finally check it off. We had an excellent 11 day adventure that included some great riding, hiking and general tourism. Although the information was a bit more scarce on the rides to the north we decided to focus on a clockwise loop starting at Fort William, heading to Skye, then Inverness, Aviemore and finishing the trip of in Edinburgh.
Although the thought of riding in Skye sounded like an epic idea, after doing some research I certainly was not feeling the riding scene there. So we decided to mix it up and do some hiking there which was nothing short of amazing. The mountain bike routes in Skye sounded long, grueling and way to hike a bikey for me.
Logistics - We needed lodging, rental car, bike rack and rental bikes. Nevis cycles was able to hook us up with a pair of full suspension chubbies for 11 days with a "disjointed" pick up and drop off. They met us at Lagan Wolftrax at the end of our trip so we could avoid extra driving. If you do rent bikes, make sure you have them switch the front and rear brake !! Everything is backwards in Scotland!
1 - Nevis Range (Fort William area): Day one with zero.zero sleep we arrived at our B&B hours too early. Oopsy. So to kill some time, why not check out Nevis Range just 15 minutes away. Unfortunately The chairlift was closed for the season so we focused on the XC trails. We did a bit of 10 under ben then the "warmup trail" Broomstick. Trail was not marked very well for a ride center, but managed to find our way. Broomstick blue was lame, started on singletrack, then you loose tons of vertical on a paved path, then ride back up singletrack. Yes we took it in the correct direction. Singletrack was great, but all in all I would skip that one. Pretty cool skills area at the base and we did sample the lower DH trail that is supposed to be insane top to bottom. Amazing scenery. Not a bad warmup ride, and the weather even cooperated. Lessons learned - Blue Trail = Beginner, not intermediate. Red is like intermediate with easy features, black was expert with some expert features. I give this place 3.5 Stars based on a very limited sampling.
2. - Kinlochleven (South of Fort William): SuperMega rainy day ride. Found this on trailforks without much info, just suited up with rain gear and headed out. Started on Red trail and decided it was the wrong way up, found the paved road uphill, past some abandoned hotel. Climbed way up to some stellar views and descended the grey mares trail that was pretty gnarly, gullied, flowing with water. Some water crossings and a bit of hike a bike. Ended out being a decent adventure ride, but I would opt for something different in the future.
There are many other trails in the network but I would rate our loop 2.5 stars, but with some bonus scenery
3. Learnie Red Rocks (North Of Inverness): Really nice singletrack on the easier side but some nice flow and variety. We rode everything which ended up being 13 miles. Blue climb started with nice singletrack climb though lichen laden trees - Blue Loop was more open with some nice views and good flow. Black had some insane rock work with some expert options, tighter singletrack with a bit of sidehill exposure. Orange was my favorite, berms tables and drops - we did two laps :))
- 3.9 stars - good times, want more orange trail.
4 - Golspie - Highland Wildcat - (About an hour + north of Inverness) - This was an epic 9ish mile ride that starts in a Car Park in downtown Golspie. Trailhead was easy enough to find via map and a very nicely constructed singletrack winds through the forest, and then above treeline up to the summit. Above treeline there are some very cool technical rock lines, really fun uphilling. Last stretch of the climb is a fire road where we were greated by a nice rainbow and a stiff headwind. At the start of the wildcat descent there is a wind shelter and a quick out and back to the enormous statue overlooking the town. 360 degree Views were amazing. The descent was crazy fun and more lasting than I would have expected. Great mix of rugged trail, drops, rollers, swoops and features. Closer to the bottom the trail turns into moss lined singletrack with some easier jumps and drops and finishes with a pretty worthy log ride or 2 :))..
4.5 stars - epic - awesome, little low on mileage, but high on vertical & fun. I see they do have plans to expand this trail system :)))
5 - Glenlivet - SingleMalt Track (thanks Mr Conti ;) ) : We started the day with a scenic 50 minute drive from Aviemore that was suggested by BothyBikes (great shop). Arrived at the ride center to find a Cafe' with pump track and riders getting ready in the pay to park lot. After getting the bikes ready and tipping back a fancy cappuccino we headed out on Blue, which was awesome fun in the first 200 ft ! Nice switchback climb to view, then killer flowing descent that just milked the vert for every ounce of fun, small features but just perfect warmup. We took the fork to red which starts with a Long fire road climb with tid bits of singletrack mixed in. Top of the climb is an amazing 360 view with of course a nice rainbow in the distance. The red trail descent was littered with nice optional 2 footers, swoops, tables for miles. End of Red you do need to climb back up some road, then some blue trail, but the finish on blue singletrack back to the Cafe' was Mint. I think we found the Rockland of Scotland.
4.75 stars - The flow, the fun, the views, the Cafe' - It could use more variety I guess. There are 2 options - Blue, or Blue + red, but it makes for a great day of riding, with time to do post ride sightseeing. Glen Livet distillery is not far away hint hint...
6 - Laggan Wolf Trax (south of Aviemore) - Our last day to ride we are sticking with a highly recommended trail center that we scoped out the day before. All climbing is done via Dirt Road and had a nice easy pitch. First trail we hit was upper red which was fantastic. Singletrack with more natural rock than previous trails, but still lots of small features and big flow mixed in. Manufactured drops, berms and some swoops. Ends on dirt road, time to climb again, crazy cool views to the left of farm country. Pedal back up to lower red we saw a really cool roller just off the road. Hmmmmm. Lower red was dam fun, mix of rock and buff, fun fast lines, killer optional 35 ft roller. Lower Lower red was the best with some super buff swoops, drops, lil jumps. We did that line twice. Finally we hit orange which is code for stuntry in scotland BTW. Orange was good but not great. Maybe I am being over-critical, but not all of the features flowed nicely. Big ass berms, and tables was the theme. I think the tables could use some fine tuning, but still half were very flyable. The cool thing is that the features in scotland are kind of setup like you are at a bike park, but they are still tight singletrack. If you look at the pinkbike map of Laggan there are some trails across the street too !!
4.25 stars - Great mix of trails, Cafe', lots of fun and flow. Orange could be better, but still fun.
Pinkbike trail forks APP was the best for mountain bike navigation.
ViewRanger App and walkhighlands website great for hikes. Hiking routes are not signed, at all. You need to do some research, even for very popular hikes.
You can Pre-load regions into google maps for navigation in case cell coverage is spotty.
You do not exchange money at the bank. You do it at the Post office, or WHsmith
Setup bike rentals at all of the mountain bike trail centers ahead of time and avoid the need for roof rack and locking bikes.
Not all restaurants allow take out - aka "take away"
Bring a good rain coat, rain pants. We did our trip in late september and it was 1/2 rain, 1/2 sun, moderate temps 50's. August might be a better time to go since the DH lifts will be running.
Lock your bikes. Someone tried to steal our rental bikes from our car at some point. Luckily they were cable locked to the bike rack. Probably just someone that saw an opportunity, Scotland felt like a very safe place to be.
If you are looking for a good central home base, I would pick Aviemore. Central to many rides.
Car Park = where you park your car to ride, and expect to pay.
Bike Hire = Bike Rental
Haggis is tasty, read about what it is after your trip.
|Elevation Change Feet -|
|Disclaimer: Caution - Use this map at your own risk. Bikerag.com and affiliates will not accept responsibility for an personal injury, property damage or trespassing while using this map. Trail users shall obey all signs, and always obtain permission from the land owner to use trails for any sporting activity. Permission to use trails should not be assumed. This map simply contains topographical information and trails that existed at one time. Trails shown maybe be missing, not accurate, closed, overgrown etc....|
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