Innerleithen is known primarily as a centre for downhill riding, though it also has a quality cross country route - the 7stanes Traquair XC, a serious, challenging trail that provides yet another option in the Tweed Valley.
Like Fort William, Innerleithen is known primarily as a centre for downhill riding, though it also has a quality crosscountry route - the 7stanes Innerleithen XC, a serious, seriously fun, challenging trail that provides yet another option in the Tweed Valley. The Tweed Valley truly is Scotland's mecca for mountain biking.
The Downhill tracks at Innerleithen are well established, and it is one of the most popular venues for riding and racing in Scotland, if not the UK. Currently there are four main tracks including the legendary 'Make or Break', a wide fast flowing track packed with huge berms, table tiops and doubles, which provides a great introduction to downhill riding. At the other end of the scale is the 'Matador', a full on steep, rocky, technical course with rock drops that require full commitment. In between these extremes are the 'Gold Run', and 'Cresta Run' two technical tracks built in classic Inners style - natural, rooty and tight down through the trees.
All the tracks are graded 'orange' and signed push up paths guide you to the top. If you're feeling less frisky or want to get more riding in, a busy uplift service runs on selected weekends throughout the year.
But back to Innerleithen XC trail. It is a good bridge between the red and black routes at Glentress, in terms of length (19kms), though in places it is more technical than the 29km black route. It is single-track from the car park, curling steeply up through the forest to leave a (pleasant?) burning sensation in the legs.
Onto a more level section, recovery is brief as the route soon snakes off again up the hill, this time with a series of tricky rock steps to negotiate, A fast, flowing contour trail which finishes (with a bang!) in an old quarry provides a great respite from the climbing, but you're soon going up again towards to the top of Minch Moor which sits at 570m. The trail zig-zags slowly up and it can seem like an eternity to get there, but when you do get to the top the 360 degree views are worth all the effort.
Better still are the descents to come. From the summit cairn, a fast flowing trail soon splits you out at the Southern Upland Way. Across here and straight onto another section of singletrack - littered with tabletop jumps, rock drops and bermed corners, this section is one of the best on the route and will definitely get the adrenaline flowing! And you will need it for the next section - Plora Craig. It is a technical masterpiece that starts off across open hillside with tricky rock features, slippy roots and tight turns to negotiate. On an optional black graded section things get even trickier into the trees with rock gardens, steps tight chokes and drops all waiting to undo your good riding! If you don't fancy this, the main trail continues into 'Oh Deer' a beautifully flowing piece of singletrack that's a little mellower but still serves up plenty of rock features. The route concludes with Cadon Bank, a 2km rollercoaster ride of sweeping berms, big drop offs, jumps and massive bomb holes that might even tempt you to ride back up the hill to do it again. It provides an exhilarating end to the day - and a refreshing alternative to nearby Glentress.
Red - Innerleithen XC, 19km (with black options)
Orange - 4 downhill tracks
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