Probably the most interesting mountain bike route in Scotland
Glentress was the first centre to be built for the innovative 7stanes project - 7 mountain bike centres located in the south of Scotland. The other centres can be found at Newcastleton and Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders area and at Ae, Mabie, Dalbeattie, Kirroughtree and Glentrool in Dumfries and Galloway. Glentress however, is the most famous and now attracts over 200,000 visitors per year. Phase one of the 7stanes project is now complete and a second phase will see an improvement in centre facilities and more novice and family-friendly trails being built over the next two years.
Glentress Forest is located on steep sided hills that rise to over 500 metres. It was the first to be established in south Scotland by Forestry Commission Scotland and includes stands of Douglas Fir as well as the more common spruce and larch. There have been guided walks and bike routes here for many years, the more technical routes are a recent innovation. They incorporate trail building expertise from all over the world. The volunteer trail builders go by the name of Trail Fairies, if you live locally and would like to help ask at The Hub. You don't need any experience to help out. It does involve physical work and can be quite strenuous at times, the more people that come along the better!
If you are visiting the forest with children and are looking for something a little less challenging there are two Trailquest Routes which take in some of the historic features of the forest. An information leaflet and map is available at the toilets just before the ponds.
Peebles is a couple of miles from Glentress. There is a good choice of tea rooms, pubs, hotels, shops, B&Bs etc. It has a bike shop and bike hirer. Innerleithen is six miles further east: shops, pubs etc. There is a bike shop here too. Near to Innerleithen are more mountain bike routes in Elibank and Traquair Forest. If cycling to Innerleithen go on the south side of the River Tweed not the A72 (see Road Routes in this website).
The Black Route or V Trail is the most technically difficult of the mountain bike routes at Glentress; at 18 miles it's also the longest. It's no exaggeration to say that this is world class - don't attempt it unless you are an experienced mountain biker or have first cycled over the blue and then the red. The total ascent is 870 metres, it includes over twelve miles of purpose-built single track, flowing descents, steep drops and water splashes. The scenery is pretty good too!
From The Hub the Black Route climbs up a forest road past ponds then turns left, climbing round Cardie Hill. Keep straight on at the high level car park passing between the Skills Loop and the Freeride area. Near a fork in the road the route joins the Soor Plooms singletrack (1). This follows the contour for just over a kilometre then you join a forest road again. This climbs gently then you turn right to the Goat Track (2): 1100 metres with a 40 metre drop - quite technical. After this there's a brief section on level road then you turn right to the tower ride (3). This is a steep climb on a footpath shared with other forest users. After half a kilometre and 70 metres of climb you turn left to a dedicated singletrack: The Kipps (4) for the final climb up the hill. There's a viewpoint at the top and a shelter provided by Helly Hansen.
Now begins the interesting stuff, starting with The Kipps descent, a 50 metre drop. Following this there's the Ginger Beer singletrack climb of 75 metres to the radio mast at 600 metres elevation. You briefly join the radio mast access road then cannon down the Boundary Trail (5). Again this is technical, 2500 metres long, 190 metres descent. By now you are at 400 metres elevation. Join a forest road to travel north-west towards Caresman Hill. At a bend you join The Deliverance (6). This misnamed singletrack shoots down to 230 metres then climbs up again to 360 metres. The descent is stoney and is as usual fairly technical. Following The Deliverance climb the singletrack potters along fairly easily taking you towards Kirn Law.
The descent off Kirn Law begins gently at first but soon steepens up. At first there are some timber trails that need care then you go into a series of zig zags taking you through the trees and ending at a forest road. You are only on this very briefly then you turn left to The Wormhole singletrack (7), a 40 metre drop over 300 metres - this is steep! There's another flat road section then left to the not too difficult Black Dog singletrack, a 25 metre drop. There's another road, a climb this time, then it's left to the Magic Mushroom (8), this crosses the burn a number of times so look out for the bridges. There's a brief crossing of a forest road (right then left) to a further section of singletrack to cross Glentress Burn. Right to road, left to singletrack, over at the junction, then finally zip down Falla Brae and you are home.
The place to meet and eat at Glentress is THE HUB in the forest. This is run by mountain bike professionals Emma Guy and Tracy Brunger. This should be the first place you go even if you don't need something to eat as they offer trail advice, weather information, bike hire and maps. In addition there are spray wash facilities, spare parts and accessories. Leave any car at The Hub or the upper Buzzards Nest car park - if you hit a tree at least someone might realise you're out there! Likewise if you expect to remain in the forest after dark, mention it at the hub. Tracy and Emma have been known to search for injured bikers only to find they were camping.