Scotland covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, and is the most mountainous kingdom in the United Kingdom. (Source 1, Source 2) The Scottish Highlands contain Scotland’s tallest mountains (with a max elevation of 4,409 feet above sea level), and are famed in literature the world over. These rugged mountains reside at a very high latitude, meaning that tree line is at a relatively low elevation. While a max height of 4,409 feet above sea level might not seem like much to riders with a Colorado perspective, these barren peaks offer an intensely desolate landscape–the perfect place for epic mountain bike trails!
As a result of these rugged peaks and the sharp vertical relief, Scotland is the place to mountain bike in the UK. Trail centres abound, along with developed downhill parks and backcountry trails that see little traffic. If I ever get over to Scotland to ride, I’ll probably start with these five trail systems!
Fort William is home to the legendary World Cup downhill track, along with cross country and 4x competition tracks. In addition to the super gnarly and the uber challenging, the lifts here provide access to several other trails that can make for a great time shredding, even if you’re not Danny Hart.
“Riding through Fort William, I convinced my mom to bugger off and let me rent a HT for the day and rode for about 2 hours at this course. Not all of FW was crazy DH, but there were miles and miles of beautiful sculpted trails with fantastic features! It was my first time doing wall rides, tailored rock crossings, small jumps, and just pure groomed MTB nirvana. I was so new to the sport, but it’s still one of my most cherished bike memories.” -Fitch
Glencoe Mountain Resort offers mountain bike trails for all levels, including two downhill trails served by a chairlift. One of the downhill trails is a technical, challenging course for experts only, and the other is a flow trail that can be ridden by most riders. Finally, Glencoe offers an array of XC trails around the mountain as well.
“Glentress is Scotland’s biggest and best-known trail centre,” according to Bike Radar. With over 73km of trails, you can log some serious training miles in this trail system, and you’re purportedly guaranteed to have a trail available to fit your abilities–and it even has some jump lines! However, SunSnowandWater warns below that this trail system may not have good beginner options, so be sure to ride with caution.
“Intermediate to advanced. A lot of technical stuff at all of the 7 Stanes, but it is still fun for an intermediate rider…if you are careful and don’t mind walking sections. Maybe my fav of the Stanes.” -SunSnowandWater
Yet another well-known trail centre in Scotland, SunSnowandWater thinks that there’s definitely “something here for everyone.” With about 68km of interconnected trails, you can pedal here to your heart’s content!
“Fantastic trails, the blue is like a rollercoaster- really fast and great fun, as is the red but more challenging technically, black is reasonably tough – Talnotry Hill is fantastic. All are sheltered from the wind and the rain, and good to do at night.” -Guest
While at least two other spots on this list also offer world-class downhill trails, Innerleithen is yet another excellent spot to shred some DH runs, or alternatively pedal XC if that’s your thing. With so many excellent places to ride DH, it’s no wonder the Brits are so dominant on the World Cup circuit!
Your Turn: Have you ridden in Scotland? Be sure to review the trails you’ve pedaled!