As the most successful Olympic cyclist of all time, Edinburgh-born Sir Chris Hoy was one of the standout stars of the London Olympics. And much like the man himself, Scotland has long shown its mettle for two-wheeled adventure – whether it’s a perilous free-wheel down the side of a mountain or a more relaxed jaunt through one of the area’s forests and glens. Here are a few of our favourite Edinburgh cycling trails for some sporting inspiration…
Two wheel thrills
Just an hour or two from Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway have morphed into the ultimate hub for biking enthusiasts, with dynamic new forest runs and extraordinary lochside trails providing the jaw-dropping setting for some of the UK’s most dare-devilish rides.
If you’re a biker with tyres to burn, chances are Scotland’s collection of 7stanes Mountain Bike Trails have what you’re looking for – including all the equipment you’ll need, from state of the art bike hire to guidance on the best routes. Better still, you don’t need to be a Bradley Wiggins pro to explore the terrain and try things at your own pace.
Far and away our favourite though, is Glentress. Just a 45-minute drive from Edinburgh, and built up around the Tweed Valley, this multi-skill space is run by ex-world cup racers. Opened officially in 2002, locals had been using the surrounding forest paths for years, and now thanks to some serious work it attracts over 200,000 visitors a year. Whether you want the beginners green route or the 18-mile physical assault course that is the bonkers – and very steep – black V trail, Glentress has a great, welcoming feel. Regulars like to keep it a secret, but look out too for the night rides: where halogen bike lights create an awesome effect as you zip through the forest after dark.
Though the Borders excel, Edinburgh visitors with a spot of wanderlust should think about hopping a ferry over to one of the islands. Skye arguably boasts one of the UK’s most demanding trails, at Glen Sligachan; it’s a tough going single track but offers the most beautiful views of the Cuillin mountains you’re ever likely to see. Similarly glorious – and far more gentle and family friendly – is the 10km route around Brodick Castle in Arran.
Alternatively, if you want to stay in close proximity to Edinburgh’s city centre, there are a heap of easy-going routes right on your doorstep, including an 11 mile cycle to the Forth Rail Bridge and Dalmeny Estate, and a leisurely bike ride up to the city’s glorious Pentland Hills, with the 4 Reservoir Loop – which starts just a few miles out of the city – highly recommended.
Header photo: A mountain biker above The Butterhole Climb on the Phoenix Tail, a red graded route, at the Mabie Mountain Biking Centre, Mabie Forest, near Dumfires © VisitScotland
Written by Anna Millar
Have you attempted any of these Edinburgh cycling trails? Which was your favourite?