The 7stanes team has created something special. It's a couple of hours drive from the Scottish central belt but it's worth the effort if you're looking for a mountain biking experience that is at the tougher, more epic end of the scal
This 7stanes centre in the south of Scotland has become a firm favourite with mountain bikers. For those travelling from the Central Belt of Scotland, or from England, it is a little further away than the cluster of 7stanes centres close to Dumfries, at Ae, Mabie and Dalbeattie - but the journey is certainly worth it. What you find at Kirroughtree is a mountain biking experience that is at the toughter, more epic end of the scale.
As you leave the car park there are no long slogs on the forest roads - you are on to tight, curling single-track with almost indecent haste, heading deep into the vast Galloway Forest Park.
The early single-track is gently undulating and twists through the forest - there are no great technical challenges here - but it is unrelenting.
The green and blue routes at Kirroughtree will prove attractive ro the inexperienced rider while the red and black options will delight the more experienced. The Twister is a 17km red-graded route with trails skirting Bargaly Glen. It is also at the more technical end for a red route, with some serious rock steps, chokes, slaps and drop offs. But it is nothing compared to the 31km Black Craigs. This is truly epic, taking you out into what feels like big country.
Leaving The Twister you encounter first Stairway to Heaven, which is closely followed by The Judgement - both have tough uphill tests, with rocks lying scattered across the trail like broken teeth.
Some wonderful single-track and forest roads take you fast flowing rivers and iwth views of the Galloway mountains, leading out to Kirroughtree's piece de resistance: McMoab. With its name taken form the mountain biking Mecca of Moab in Utah, this is a snaking 900 metre section - optional, since the alternative is to carry on up the fire road - of vast slabs of granite linked by huge boulders with blue painted arrows indicating the best line to take across the top of them.
After the aptly named Heartbreak Hill comes Back Craig and Talnotry Hill, an initial snaking climb to a fine viewpoint followed by superb descent. It's classic 7stanes downhill, dropping from a considerate height and flowing neatly through the forest, but with some serious drop-offs - up to two metres - some of which might be worth a look before you ride them. Hansel & Gretel, Hissing Sid and The Jabberwocky bring more flowing trail spiced with technical rock surprises.
And then it is on to the red Twister again, though not for a simple blast back to the car park. Far from it. The last few single-track sections are testing of both physical and technical abilities. If you have any energy left then it may all be absorbed on The Last Tango before the final swooping descent through magnificent fir trees lans you back at the Visitor Centre for welcome refreshments. Bike hire, spares and repairs are also available from the on-site shop - The Breakpad.
The Kirroughtree red and black trails are tough and unrelenting, tight and intricate, the scale is epic and it will appeal to those with a sense of adventure.
Green - Bargaly Wood, 6kms
Blue - Larg Hill, 10kms with Doon Hill Extension, which adds 4kms. Taster Loop, 2kms
Red -The Twister, 17kms
Black - Black Craigs, 29kms
The Breakpad 01671 401303
HDI (Car Care) 01671 404002
Castle Douglas Cycle Centre 01556 504542