The 7stanes centre at Ae, is in a large forest beside a tiny village north of Dumfries. Here the emphasis is on fun - where the trails can safely be described as gorgeous.
The Forest of Ae - named after the tiny village it sits beside just north of Dumfries - has been a popular downhill venue for many years. With the construction of the 24km red-graded Ae Line and more recently some easier green and blue-graded routes it's now a plum spot for cross country riders too.
The Ae Line is notably different to the other red routes in the area. The influence of downhill mountain biking in the design is obvious: there is a huge emphasis on fun, with numerous jumps and drop offs, none of which are as dramatic or as thrilling as the final section of single-track descent known as the Omega Man.
The green and blue routes are gentler in nature and keep close to the valley bottom on wider, less challenging trails.
The red grade Ae line begins with a very nice section of uphill single-track, known as Rab's Slippy One. This provides a calm, almost zen-like introduction to Ae - albeit with a couple of abruptly steep sections that threaten to shatter the calm. But it's not really typical of Ae, because some of the subsequent sections have a surface of angular rocks, while others are hard-packed with huge table-tops offering riders the opportunity to gain some serious air, or just roll cautiously over the top!
There is some serious climbing, too, using a mixture of single-track and forest roads. But there is comfort in the knowledge that what goes up must come down - and it does several times as you drop into and climb out of a series of river valleys.
Some high, exposed, if bizarrely named, single-track - Granny Green Luv, Bran Burn Bash being two examples, lead deep into the forest. Eventually you reach The Edge, a spectacular stretch of single-track that takes you along an exposed bluff with an airy drop to the river on one side, before plunging into the dark forest, swooping down near the end thanks to some fast bermed corners.
But it all builds nicely to the climactic final downhill sections - the aforementioned Omega Man. A long, spectacular trail that drops back to the car park via numerous bermed corners, tabletops, jumps, double jumps and some serious drop-offs that might not be best approached at top speed. Take the black option if you want it really big. As if that isn't enough, there's the optional log ride at the end; it's very long and very skinny!
Ae is also a well-established downhill centre, with a competition downhill course some 1.6kms in length and featuring the infamous 22ft Coffin Jump. During events it finishes with the 20ft Field Drop, and the whole course takes the top downhillers only about three minutes!
For those wanting to develop their skills, there is a downhill skills/freeride route called "The Shredder". This provides a route down the same hill but with less intimidating features than the real thing.
Now with a bike shop (complete with bike hire) and cafe, Ae is developing into the complete mountain bike trails centre.
Green - Ae Valley Trail, 9km
Blue - Larchview Trail, 13.5km
Red - The Ae Line, 24km
Orange - Downhill Course, 1.6km
Orange - 'The Shredder', 1km
Kirkpatrick's Cycles 01387 254011
Ae Bike Shop and Cafe 01387 850541
Grierson & Graham Ltd 01387 259483