A Pentlands 'Classic' – The Theives Road

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  • A Pentlands 'Classic' – The Theives Road
  • dovebiker

    One bit forms part of the Capital Trail which I rode last year – I didn’t like the bit where you dropped onto the main road at Carlops as it’s a bit narrow and passing trucks attempted to smear me onto the drystane wall!

    Yeah, there was very little to commend the main road section between Flotterstone and Carlops, although the detour past the Nine Mill Burn houses was nice enough.

    Just rode this for the first time at the weekend, it had been nagging me as the last of the classic Pentlands routes I hadn’t ridden.

    Did it as a gravel ride on my Superfly with 40c slicks. Mostly tarmac to Green Cleugh, few km of scree and singletrack, back on the tarmac to Flotterstone, along the road to Carlops, up the first tarmac section of the Theives Road, then onto the landrover track which gradually fades into a grassy quad track, and then into some actually quite nice peaty/sandy/rocky singletrack.

    The bike was starting to just feel a tiny bit out of its depth, the slicks combined with some damp rocks/muddy puddles/wet grass were starting to make me a bit nervous.

    I hadn’t expected the descent to be at all rideable, but it’s actually OK, guess it’s not very wet at the moment. With proper MTB tyres and an ambitious attitude you could probably ride most of the wee ditch crossings, and the grassy singletrack sections in between were lovely, although I couldn’t afford to pick up too much speed as I knew I wouldn’t be able to slow down again (slicks + wet grass.. 🙄 ).

    The final section past the reservoir and up to Little Vantage became a bit more stoppy/starty, the people maintaining the path have done a great job but some of the railway sleeper bridges have been laid in such a way as to make them pretty much unrideable.

    Still, if you’re a veteran of other Pentland’s ‘classics’ and can maintain a sense of humour on slightly broken/boggy descents, it’s definitely worthwhile, maybe combine with the Red Road/Monks Rig climb and descent to improve the tarmac/off road ratio.

    Sorry no pics, it was too damp/drizzly to be getting the phone out too often.

    did it about 10 years ago or so. Remember it being pretty slow going in places due to being boggy. Got to the Alan Ramsay, ordered a burger and a pint of coke and found out I didn’t have enough money to pay for both! A local farmer at the bar took pity on me in my bedraggled state and offered to pay for my pint 🙂 then cycled back across really annoyed as I knew I was going to miss the F1 race on TV…which I really wanted to see.

    It’s funny what you remember…

    Always fancied going back in drier weather to see what it was like to ride dry.

    Premier Icon scotroutes

    Yeah, rather than drop down to Flotterstone, take the Monks Rig path from the Red Road to Ninemileburn. That way you avoid all but 100 metres or so of road.

    The old Bartholomews map shows a track contouring NE along the hills from the Thieves Road descent to Listonshiels. It doesn’t really exist now.

    Also – head in to Leithhead and Buteland off the A70 to avoid the tarmac.

    Premier Icon NZCol

    ^ what he said. Instead of going down green cleugh head up to Bavelaw and over nine mile burn, follow the minor road along to carlops. Once you are over the top of the single track and descended the matchstick road if you bear R on the obvious 4wd it takes you back to basically the bottom of the bavelaw climb by the top of green cleugh (it’s called the yellow brick red, climb up to bavelaw is exponential for obvious reasons !)


    To avoid even more road, climb to Red Gate and then the Kips junction, but instead of following Swoop, or the frankly better Swoop Is Dead (I created the segment so claim naming rights), follow the newly built double track towards Green Law. Break off on single track when the double track veers downhill, summit Green Law and then Spittal Hill, and drop down to North Esk on the stupidly steep access road.

    Tarmac to Carlops, Roman Road towards West Linton but cut off at Stonypath and access the drove road from there. It’s a lot of fun on the right bike, even the approach to the main road. There’s a path from Little Vantage to Kirknewton as well but I’ve not ridden it.

    I’ve ridden that path to Listonshiels as mentioned by scotroutes, it initially goes to Thrashiedean but becomes nothingness for a while afterwards. Good fun in a trudging sense.

    Premier Icon kcal

    I have in the dim and distant past then headed up past Spittal Farm from past Nilemileburn and dropped down to the North Esk reservoir. It’s not the path it used to be though I think (and misses out the Allan Ramsay…)

    I also recall vaguely doing that in reverse in the very diam distant past with Gary et al, didn’t enjoy it much at all but suspect it’s improved now. [ lolz at “Baad Park”… ]

    maybe combine with the Red Road/Monks Rig climb and descent to improve the tarmac/off road ratio.

    Just noting for the record that I had already suggested this! 😀

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