Glentress, nestled in the Tweed Valley of Southern Scotland has developed a reputation as THE trail centre to visit with routes to suit all abilities, an award-winning cafe and bike shop (with hire bikes available) and post-ride facilities such as showers and a bike wash. The trails are graded from Green to Black, providing a plethora of riding options for the whole family. There’s a Freeride Park in a state of constant development and improvement and a Skills Loop to help novice riders progress to the next level.
Arriving at The Hub In The Forest, there are loads of riders hanging around the car park; people arriving back from their rides, a smile on their face from the final ripping descent to the cafe; riders saddling up to head out onto the trails; families sat in the sunshine on the cafe veranda, plates of cake in front of them.
As with most trail centres, the routes start with a climb away from the cafe and car park at the trailhead. This used to be one long fireroad grind but the constant development of new trails here has provided a lovely undulating singletrack trail through the woodland, beautifully engineered in that it never really feels like a climb but you pop out onto the fireroad much further up! At the top of the climb is the Buzzards Nest car park, location of the Freeride Park. It’s here that the gravity boys and girls congregate, big bikes and body armour the order of the day as, further up on the hillside, the wide bermed trails and wall rides catapult the riders over the drops and jumps.
The beauty of the marked routes here is that, once you get to know them, they’re interchangeable and riders will frequently mix and match, combining the best bits of Black and Red, perhaps climbing back up for another run down one of the other descents available. At “only” 29km, the Black route doesn’t sound intimidating but the relentless arm-pounding descents, the technical climbs and the feeling of isolation combine to make it an epic day out. No matter how many riders are hanging round the car park, once out on the trails it’s rare that you’ll see more than a few dozen others except at the popular gathering spots such as Spooky Woods, a grin-inducing section on the Red route of jumps, berms and drops which riders will often spend several hours riding and re-riding, honing their lines, gaining confidence and speed with each run.
The longest climb on the Black loop is known as the Tower Climb. Steep at first it soon heads into tree lined switch-backed trail which once again do a great job of masking the actual height gained, maximising the fun without inducing that sense of despair most riders get when faced with an interminable climb! It’s actually quite a technical section, the tight bends and rock-strewn singletrack combining with the gradient to create a challenging climb. Before you know it you’re out above the tree line, climbing round the hairpin bends to arrive at the highest point on the route by a wooden shelter which provides an ideal rest spot with some stunning views over the Tweed Valley.
Further on round the route at the radio mast on Dunslair Heights the trail divides, following either the Black out round the edge of the woods or heading downhill into the woods to pick up the Red route at the Spooky Woods playground. The Black route throws in optional extras such as Redemption, a loop of a long descent, liberally sprinkled with bermed corners, drops and bridge crossings followed by a gut-wrenching but ultimately satisfying climb back out. Or if you’re pressed for time you can bypass it and pick the trail up further on. Clever huh? With the end in sight, the fun factor is turned up to 11 as the trail heads downwards, split by fireroad transitional sections to allow the arm-pump time to ease. The first section heads into optional North Shore, rough hewn wooden structures providing a challenge to the brave but with the ever present chicken runs round the side for the less foolhardy! At the bottom the trail is shared with the Red Route as tracks towards The Hub converge, short whoopy sections with an occasional sharp climb, sections to allow easy overtaking and all constructed with the expertise born of long experience to maximise the grain of the land and give a real flow, flattering your skills as a rider and often feeling faster than it actually is. There are options towards the end to climb back up to the Buzzards Nest car park and take one of several descents back down, the Black, Red and Blue combining and splitting, flowing seamlessly down the hillside. The easier Blue option fits in nicely as either a gentle day out for the more experienced rider or an introduction to the rigours of mountain biking for a relative novice. The well-designed combination of Routes on the way back in allows novice riders to experiment with harder grade features or alternatively an easy spin back down if the day out has been a bit tiring! Meanwhile, the separate Green Route is ideal for families with kids on tagalong bikes or who are just getting started out on their own. If you plan your day right at Glentress there’s often time for a ride in the morning, lunch at The Hub then a different option in the afternoon, either following the marked trails or heading off to explore the surrounding areas (see the http://www.singletrackworld.com/trailguide/uk/southern-scotland/peebles/ Route Guide for more information).
Loads more information about everything that Glentress offers including Skills Tuition Days, bike hire, cafe opening times etc plus details of forthcoming trail work and developments can be found at http://www.thehubintheforest.co.uk
Where to stay?
If you want to be as close to the trails as possible, the Glentress Hotel offers dinner, bed and breakfast options for not too much money. There are a host of bike friendly hotels (such as the Green Tree Hotel) as well as bed and breakfast providers in Peebles itself together with the Rosetta campsite for those on a tight budget.
For self catering with the option of getting your dinner made for you, www.innerhaven.co.uk offers accommodation for up to six people and is run by keen mountain bikers, Andy and Aneela McKenna, they can offer local knowledge on both the man made and natural trails in the area.
Peebles is well served by places to eat from several hotels on the main street through to dedicated eateries such as Francos (great pizzas) and the ubiquitous Indian, The Prince of India, both of which are located on the main street.
Other Trail Centres
Glentress is 5 miles from Innerleithen, 50 miles from Newcastleton and 65 miles from Ae.