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Glentress Ride Guide: Mountain Biking in Scotland

Guide to Glentress which is the UK’s mountain biking mecca and is home to over 50 miles (80 km) of hand built and natural trails.

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Glentress in Tweed Valley

Glentress is the UK’s mountain biking mecca and is home to over 50 miles (80 km) of hand built and natural mountain biking trails.

If you have a full or half day to spare or even a few hours after work in summer and want to take part in some adventure travel activities to get the adrenaline pumping or just want to enjoy a casual ride with the kids through a beautiful setting then Glentress has something for everyone.

Glentress Mountain Biking Trails in Scotland

Photo by addypope

Getting to Glentress

Situated in the heart of Glentress Forest near the village of Peebles in the Scottish Borders it is only a short 40 minute drive from Edinburgh and 1 hr 15 minutes from Glasgow.

It boasts a huge selection of trails with a variety of different skill levels from the gravel and paved green trails to the expert black graded trails which are not for the fainthearted.

If you have never been mountain biking before then don’t be scared. The Glentress Skills Area is the perfect place to start. It is green graded on a simple, safe and not-too-long loop which allows you to build confidence and practice your riding skills on features that you might encounter on the trails further up. Just tackle what you feel comfortable with!

Been mountain biking before (or just want to watch some crazy people in action)? Then the Glentress Freeride Park is where you want to head. With a variety of features including small, medium and large jumps it gives you a chance to showoff and improve your skills.

Glen tress Mountain Biking in Scotland

There really is something for everyone, which is why you can never get sick of the place as there is always new levels to progress to.

Riding at Glentress

When you arrive you have two options. Start at the bottom car park and start a hard thigh burning 20 – 30 min uphill slog. Or start at the second car park half way between all the trails.

I will never forget my first time there, I though I was doing pretty well when we started at the bottom only to watch as a woman boosted past me exclaiming it was her third time up that day!

Arriving in the second car park you can either take various trails back down, spend some time in the free ride park and skills area or keep climbing to reach more trails.

Obviously the higher you go the better the views. Overlooking the picturesque Tweed valley, sprawling green hills and cute houses dot the countryside. Absolutely fantastic on a rare sunny day in Scotland.

Glentress Mountain Biking Tweed Valley view

Photo by squarehead

The best bit about the Glentress mountain bike park is that there are so many trail options you easily can do a different combination every time you go. Personally I like to ride right to the top then head all the way down to the bottom. That way you get at least 40 minutes of downhill.

Alternatively Cole likes to go up and down several smaller sections a few times to break the monotonous climbs. With all the smooth fast flowing trails merging together there are loads of opportunities to get up some serious speed in a controlled manner.

Our favourite blue trails like “Berm Baby Berm” and “Good Game” flow through the dense forest with small tabletop jumps that you can rollover if you are not that confident and berms to get you around the corners faster.

The world famous “Spooky Wood” red trail has a killer climb before one of the best descents ever. Starting with three rock drops the trails then just flows and flows and flows across open hill country before entering the dense forest below.

The Hub at Glentress

The Hub at Glentress where you can enjoy a cake and coffee after riding - Photo by Tuftronic10000

Glentress Facilities

Not only is the biking awesome but the facilities are superb too. There is a new café, plentiful car parking, an excellent bike hire store and a first aid center just in case all located at the brand spanking new Glentress Peel. For more info check out the local Glentress Forestry site with all your trail maps, guides and directions.

All these amenities give Glentress a great vibe and make for an excellent day out. We love sitting outside the café with a hard earned cake/coffee combo soaking up the atmosphere and listening to all the stories of the days riding.

So next time you are looking for some adventure travel activities, pack a picnic, pump up your tires and get out there!

Adela is one half of the New Zealand Adventure Couple who have been travelling since 2009. She loves the outdoors and has a real passion for Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Surfing (apart from being scared of sharks). She loves food and writes all our food posts. Consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Laura

    February 27, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    It looks magical! I would definitely go for a ride through all these green forests.

    • Cole

      February 27, 2012 at 7:20 PM

      I hope you get to one day Laura. Have you been mountain biking before?

  2. Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush

    February 27, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    30 minutes uphill! WOO! But really, I never knew of this network of trails, very cool! And the scenery, unsurprisingly, is just stunning! Good work!

    • Cole

      February 27, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      Scotland definitely has some of the best scenery in the world and it is even better when it is from a secluded mountain biking track!

  3. Stefania May

    February 28, 2012 at 6:00 AM

    Good article I would love to try the park but probably can't fit it in with our tight schedule. We lived mountain biking in jasper with you guys!

  4. Four Jandals Travel Blog

    February 29, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Hopefully we can hire some bikes up in the Highlands when we go 🙂

  5. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    February 29, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    One of my favorite ways to explore an area! I like places that have good bike trails. Much safer 🙂

    • Cole

      March 1, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Definitely safer. Unless you are a bit reckless like me and get all out of control going downhill haha

  6. Laurel Robbins

    February 29, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I've been hiking in Scotland, but never mountain biking, but what a beautiful place to do it!

    • Cole

      March 1, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      Its a fantastic spot Laurel. Where did you hike?

  7. Laurence

    February 29, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    I’ve always wanted to get more into mountain biking but never quite gotten round to it. This looks like it was a great adventure.. maybe I should just get on with it!

    • Cole

      February 29, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      Definitely start mountain biking Laurence. You can escape to so many places! And you don’t have to be that good to do most trails either especially at a place like Glentress.

  8. Cherina

    March 1, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    This looks beautiful! I didn’t realise it was so close to Edinburgh. I wonder if there is a bus down there. Might have to check it out- could be good thing to do while I’m there in April.

    • Cole

      March 1, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      There is a bus down to Peebles which is a couple of miles down the road. You can hire bikes in Peebles then bike out to Glentress along the cycle routes 🙂 Let us know when you come in April!

  9. Bret@ Green Global Travel

    March 1, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    I’ve been mountain biking a few times, but definitely prefer the flat jungles of Mexico to 30 minutes of hills! Kudos to you for giving it a go…

    • Cole

      March 1, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      We go down every couple of weeks and love it! Although jungles in Mexico sound pretty good. What about the heat?

  10. cheryl

    March 13, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    I’m very sure I’d fail largely at mountain biking … but I’d be willing to try it out for sure! And what a beautiful setting. 🙂

    • Cole

      March 14, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      I am sure you would nail it Cheryl. It is literally like riding a bike 😉

  11. Christina (Jandal Road)

    March 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Ah I love Scotland. Pity I never went on a biking tour there. Only took my bike to uni every morning when I studied there. Good to know about Glentress, looks magical!

    • Cole

      March 18, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      It’s a shame that you didn’t make it to Glentress Christina. We love it there and just waiting for the weather to warm up a bit (and for some more sunshine) so that we can start going every weekend again.

  12. S-J

    March 7, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Well worth checking out other 7Stanes MTB centres, Glentress is cool but Kirroughtree is my frave and loads quieter even at the height of summer you’ll hardly see a soul on the trails 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      March 8, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      We have actually been to a couple of the other 7Stanes mountain bike parks 😀 Loved Kirroughtree although wish we had a better idea of where we were going since we only had a day there! We are just lucky that Glentress is only about 45 minutes drive from Edinburgh. Makes it a perfect evening trip after work in summertime 😉

  13. Dan @ A Cruising Couple

    May 5, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Looks beautiful and a looot of fun! We did a 3-day cycling trip but stuck to the roads along the coast of Taiwan. I’d love to give mountain biking a go. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 5, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      Mountain biking is definitely one of the best adventure sports you can do! Especially as most tracks are graded so you are not out of your depth straight away 🙂

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Adventure Travel

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Hammock vs Tent Camping

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Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.

In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!

Weatherproof

Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.

Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.

Setup

For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.

Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.

If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.

Comfort

One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.

If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.

Price

Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.

A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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