Glentrool is one of the 7stanes centres, but for those reared on a diet of man-made single-track trails, it might come as a bit of a shock to discover that such trails, in the main, don't feature here.
Scenic Glentrool has three trail types - the swoopy blue, green family routes and the forest road grade Big Country route.
The blue is moderate in both length and difficulty, with a long and very fast single-track descent, swooping back down to the valley bottom.
Mostly off-road, the purpose-built blue single-track is wider than trails at nearby Kirroughtree and has none of the rocks and roots found there - much friendlier for less experienced riders!
The green trails give easy riding for novices and families, heading out on short loops of forest road, and returning back to the welcoming Visitor Centre.
The Big Country Route aims to attract mountain bikers looking for something different: a long ride over existing forest roads set in some of Scotland's most spectacular countryside. Essentially it offers a touring experience rather than the mountain biking experience many will have come to expect.
The way-marked trail is long. Very long - 58km long, to be precise, and it is undulating throughout, taking in some big, long climbs. This is a ride where fitness rather than technical ability is what matters. It is estimated that it will take between five and nine hours to complete: a long day in the saddle by anyone's reckoning.
The ride sets out from the Glentrool Visitor Centre, which is picture-postcard-pretty, sitting with the forest behind it, beside a bubbling river and surrounded by picnic tables. The centre serves great food, the speciality being a very rare delicacy, the haggis toastie.
The Big Country Route explores a large area of Galloway Forest Park. It is a stunning and a very quiet part of Scotland, and it positively reeks of history. In the woods at the head of the glen, overlooking Loch Trool, for example, Robert the Bruce scored a memorable victory over the English in 1307, opening his campaign of independence. A stone marks the spot. The woodland and wildlife in Glentrool is also considered unusual - it is reckoned to contain some of the oldest oak trees in Scotland - and the area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a European Special Area of Conservation.
Back to the mountain biking. As the 7stanes leaflet says, 'Glentrool is aimed at those who want to get out into the wild windswept places of Galloway. Don't expect mile upon mile of technical purpose-built single-track.' It provides an exhilarating day out - but a different kind of exhilaration.
The route follows very minor roads, where sightings of cars are exceedingly rare - and well-established forest tracks follow the Water of Trool, and then continue south towards Newton Stewart, through the Wood of Cree. On the outskirts of the town veer left on more minor roads to Auchenleck before re-entering the forest on the Old Edinburgh Road. From here a link to the Kirroughtree Black Route is possible making for a very big day out. Keeping to the forest road takes you on to the Black Loch and Poultrybuie hill; then it's along the banks of the River Dee, following this to Loch Dee. From Glenhead the track takes you through Glen Trool and back to Loch Trool and the Visitor Centre, to provide succour after the most gruelling of all the 7stanes rides.
A family green route following forest roads was added in 2008/09 giving the complete family package.
Green - Palgowan, 14kms
Green - Pulnagashel Glen, 6kms
Blue - Green Torr, 9.5kms
Forest Road - Big Country Route, 58kms
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