The trails

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7Stanes

The 7stanes are seven mountain biking centres spanning the south of Scotland, from the heart of the Scottish Borders to Dumfries and Galloway (Glentress and Innerleithen count as one). 'Stane' is the Scots word for stone, and at each of the 7stanes locations you'll find a stone sculpture reflecting a local myth or legend.

The stanes are found out on the trails in the forests, in prominent locations near cycling and walking paths. They’re accessible on foot or by horse as well as by bike, and range in size from one to three metres high and from two to six tonnes in weight.

For more details about the stanes themselves take a look at the 7stanes Mountain Biking website

Glentress

Glentress is simply brilliant - located just 24 miles from the centre of Edinburgh and yet a world away. It has a trail for everybody, kids, beginners, experts and pros, even the downhillers like a shot at Spooky Wood every now again. Some seasoned riders might have a moan and groan, but most won’t be able to resist a mince around Glentress at some point.

It is the biggest trail centre in the country and from the surveys in the bike mags and websites it is the best as well. Bikers come from every part of the UK and beyond to give it a go.

A café, a bike shop, the ability to hire any type of bike, great trail building, the Bike Patrol, the atmosphere, the mountain bike rangers, the open access, Spooky Wood, Super G or Magic Mushroom, where does it end?

The trails at Glentress are free to use and are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but ensure you take some £1 coins for parking.

Innerleithen

There were mountain biking trails at Innerleithen long before the official trails that we know and love now. Downhill mountain bike riding and racing started in and around Innerleithen during the early nineties and is still a major venue on the downhill racing scene today.

The trails at Innerleithen range from the orange downhill tracks to the red XC (Cross Country) trail which takes you up to Minch Moor. The trails are not advised for beginners (or at least to non downhill beginners) or families. If you enjoy the red and black at Glentress then you will really enjoy the red XC trail at Innerleithen. 

For the downhillers, Innerleithen has a bit of everything from big drops and jumps to rooty tight sections. A downhiller could ‘session’ the trails at Innerleithen for 1, 2 or 3 days and not go on the same trail twice. During the week it largely involves pushing the bike up and riding short sections or the full length of the trail. On a weekend the pushing can be replaced by an uplift (see Transport) but it basically involves the bike and the rider being driven up to an area approximately 100m (still some pushing to be done) short of the starting point for the downhill tracks. 

For downhilling it is recommended that body armour, full face helmet and a downhill specific bike are used. None of these make going uphill particularly easy and hence an uplift takes away the hard work. 

There are currently no facilities at the trailhead in Innerleithen, other than a big car park.  The trails at Innerleithen are free to use and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but you will need to pay for parking so make sure you have some £1 coins. On uplift weekends or race and event days there is usually a catering van and toilets.  Accommodation, cafés, shops, toilets, I-cycles and Alpine Bikes can all be found in Innerleithen itself.

Innerleithen remains one of the UK’s premier downhill venues and throughout the year there are lots of events here. The Scottish Downhill Association, Alpine Bikes and InnerleithenMTBracing all regularly organise and stage races. Racing doesn’t mean the organisers close off the hill, it just means they ‘tape’ one of the trails for the event and generally take over the car park. The XC trail and other downhill tracks can still be used.

As well as the official trails at Innerleithen, there are some fantastic natural trails and also some great family rides in and around Innerleithen and the surrounding forests.

Uplift

Official uplifts at Innerleithen are available from Uplift Scotland. A day's uplift costs £32/rider. Sign on opens at 8.30am, with first uplift run leaving the car park at 9am (sharp!). The day consists of up to 10 runs to the top of the trails with a leisurely lunch break in between to recharge your batteries.

There is currently no official uplift service at Glentress. 

 

The Natural Option

There is no doubting how good the trail centres at Glentress and Innerleithen are. With these on the doorstep it is very easy to forget that the Tweed Valley has some fantastic natural routes and trails which you don’t have to look too hard to find. 

Trail centres are a relatively new phenomenon and there is a whole new breed of riders who know nothing but the tailor-made trails that make a trail centre. However, for the majority of riders a trail centre is a far cry from the natural trails they know and love. It’s about getting out into the unknown, exploring and navigating hills and trails, rooty climbs, muddy drops and finding that perfect and oh so secret bit of single-track.

There are many and varied routes and trails, a quick check of the OS map opens up an abundance of opportunities for that natural nirvana.

Night Riding

Yes, riders like to do it at night as well! Spooky Wood or Minch Moor is fantastic during the day, however it’s even better at night. A light on your helmet or your handlebars and it opens up a whole new world. It’s not unusual for bikers to be out until all hours or even all night and sleep during the day. 

The trails at both Glentress and Innerleithen are open 24 hours per day and during the winter months it is great to get out in the dark and enjoy the trails.

Routes & Maps

Forestry Commission Scotland produces some fantastic route maps for both Glentress and Innerleithen. These can be purchased at a number of sites in the Tweed Valley or “friends” of 7stanes can download maps from the website.

The trails are graded in a similar way to a ski centre with the option of Green, Blue, Orange, Red and Black. For more information the 7stanes website gives more detail and is well worth a look.

 

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