5 reasons to go mountain biking in Scotland this summer
Scotland was made for mountain biking. Through hill, glen and forest you’ll find trails, tracks and bike parks, not to mention the most breathtaking scenery imaginable
It’s no secret that holidays are just a little bit different this year. You might have been planning a two-wheeled assault on the Alps or Pyrenees, or even further afield, but in truth there is a mountain biking paradise on your doorstep. Thanks to a varied topography, mild summer climate and plenty of bike-friendly accommodation, there’s so much to be explored, whether you’re planning to hit some serious trails, or are just looking for the perfect outdoor family getaway.
Find out just some of the reasons why you should take your bike to Scotland this summer, and do make sure to check all the places you plan to visit are open before booking anything.
01. Mountain biking for all abilities
There truly is something for everyone, from purpose-built trails to natural, wild routes among the great landscapes.
Families and adults looking for an introduction to the sport can hire bikes here and get some introductory tuition to the sport at an excellent range of mountain biking trails, centres and parks with well-maintained pathways and manmade jumps to practise on. Once you’re ready you can get on with the matter in hand – having fun and enjoying an adventure!
Are you already a keen rider? Scotland is home to undulating trails with amazing climbs and descents on both double and singletrack. Many of Scotland’s trails are natural and 'rustic' ancient paths and 'passes' where you can choose your own route through this wild and rugged landscape.
02. World-class facilities
Trail sites and mountain biking parks in Scotland offer a range of graded routes so you can easily select one that suits you or find the right route for your family or group.
At cycling or outdoor centres such as Callendar Estate in Falkirk you can hire a bike, get some tuition and even join a mountain biking guide on one of the easier trails.
From Balblair in the north east Highlands to Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, Forestry and Land Scotland manages some great forest tracks and trail centres for you to explore on two wheels. At Cuningar Loop, a woodland park to the east end of Glasgow, kids can get to grips with the basics and also enjoy other fun activities such as exploring the adventure playground and climbing in Scotland’s first outdoor bouldering park.
Moray Monster Trails is another Forestry and Land Scotland site and it has over 20km of routes with three moderate trails to choose from, as well as some trickier tracks if you’re up for something harder. Brush up your technique in the skills area before you set off.
Bike parks also cater for the more experienced rider and provide some of the most technical park riding to be found in the UK. At sites such as Glentress and Kirroughtree, two of the remarkable 7stanes mountain biking centres in the south of Scotland, Laggan Wolftrax near Kingussie, Glenlivet and the world famous Nevis Range in the Highlands, you can really test your skills to the limit.
03. Natural trails
Outdoor access in Scotland is exceptionally good, which explains why the country is such a hit with mountain bikers, and means that there is an impressive array of natural routes to experience. Keeping to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code will help to ensure that mountain biking in the Scottish wilderness can continue well into the future.
If you’re an expert who’s really looking for a challenge then you can’t get much tougher than the Sluggan near Aviemore, an 18km natural route with a steep climb, great views and a thrilling descent – what more could you want?
The Isle of Arran also offers a staggering number of wild mountain biking trails for its size. They are mostly rough and ready and require skilled handling of your bike as well as your map! Some can be tackled by novices too, such as the 10km Castle Route that circles Brodick Castle and skirts Glen Rosa.
Routes in the Scottish Borders include the 20km Gypsy Glen near Innerleithen, which offers a tough cross-country ascent through the heather and bracken, with lovely views from the summit of Kirkhope Law.
04. Different regions, endless possibilities
Scotland is home to some of the most diverse landscapes in the UK, and each offer a different biking experience. For example in southern Scotland, you’ll find 7stanes. Across Dumfries & Galloway and the Borders, seven world-class mountain biking centres span seven locations. ‘Stane’ is the Scots word for stone and at each 7stanes centre you’ll discover a stone sculpture reflecting a local myth or legend.
In central Scotland, discover the mountainous scenery of the Arrochar Alps on the Great Loin Loop in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, or have an island adventure on the challenging and varied terrains of Arran. In the north east you can enjoy the climbing trails along the River Tummel to Pitmedden Forest in Highland Perthshire.
Unsurprisingly, the Highlands are full of incredible opportunities. Nevis Range near Fort William, Highland Wildcat Trails in Golspie, Sutherland, Glenlivet Estate and Laggan Wolftrax on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park are just some of the amazing locations where you can hit thrilling trails.
05. Plenty of places to stay
Scotland is packed with bike-friendly accommodation, some of it in utterly spectacular settings. But whatever your budget, you’ll be sure to find the right place for you. With facilities such as secure storage, drying areas, route maps and bike servicing equipment, these bike-friendly accommodation options will help you to relax and get on with having some serious off-road fun.