Less than a month ago I set out to explore and ride Kirroughtree (7 Stanes trails), located near the coast in southeast Scotland and home to quite possibly the best technical singletrack trails in the country. It’s a beautiful and scenic drive along the A75 to Kirroughtree from my home in Carlisle, one that makes for a wonderful outing. After about two hours of driving, we had arrived at our destination and I began to unpack the bikes from our wee Ford KA, which surprisingly fits two bikes after some toil and trouble completely disassembling them.
Kirroughtree is a well maintained trail centre with a bike shop and cafe to boot. In 2010 Kirroughtree received the Trail of the Year award from Mountain Bike Rider (UK publication), providing me with further incentive to visit the area. All trails are well marked ranging from easy rolling beginner trails to the more technically challenging intermediate and advanced tracks. There are plenty of choices for all making this area a favourite area among all levels of riders and abilities; including families taking advantage of the children’s play area. I required a few bike tubes, as the universe ensures that I go through tubes like a newborn with nappies, and therefore headed for the shop where they were more than happy to help. Feeling ambitious, my better half and I opted for the advanced 31 km route Black Craig Stats. The trail combines fast flowing singletrack and rocky technical features to test your skills.
We began the trail from the well-marked signposts near the parking lot. The trail starts off with a relatively easy climb followed by a quick singletrack descent down to a picturesque lake. I found several fun little nuggets tucked away along the trail for me to jump, pump and flow. The trail itself was relatively hard packed with gravel and dirt; even with the amount of rain and snow the UK experienced this winter. Half way through our mountain venture, the trail opened up with some epic views of Scotland’s historic countryside; just you, your bike and the rolling hills. Arriving at McMoab, a fun tacky rock section made up of ridges of exposed granite and huge slabs, I was gitty with anticipation. Arrows painted on the rock are in place to guide you through the area. I ventured out towards an optional steep rock slab to get my adrenaline going and to test out the technical sections known to this area. It was a great test and fun challenge to clear this feature; glad I did it.
Following my adrenaline pump, we grabbed some lunch to refuel as energy levels were beginning to run low. After our quick snack, we continued on. Further up the trail we encountered what I call ‘Heartbreak Hill’, and yes, I believe I almost had a heart attack fighting my way to the top of it. Eventually we arrived at what seems to be the highest point of the ride, with parts of the trail still covered in snow. From here the trail offered up some fun technical rocky features for us to navigate. If you carried your speed through this section there was nothing an experienced rider couldn’t handle. Use caution as you’re creeping down the technical rocks, there are a few deep drop offs which require a bit of speed to clean.
Overall we found Black Craig Stats to be a well maintained trail with flow, some technical rock features, berms, nuggets to air and amazing views. McMoab offers a change of pace in the middle of the trail and is a must have experience. The trail has a lot of up and down and the 31 km took its toll on me, so bring plenty of super food for the ride and a beer for when you’re done!