Blessed with world-class trails and scenery to rival anywhere in the world, plus welcoming accommodation and whisky in abundance, the Scottish Highlands are hard to beat.
Picking just one mountain bike riding destination in Scotland is too tough, so we’ll run you through our 5 areas to check out for your next mountain bike trip in Scotland.
Packed with towering mountain peaks, coastal scenery to blow you away and slick, rocky trails, Torridon has rightly earned its place in the bucket lists of many mountain bikers. These remote mountains offer steep hike-a-bike’s and endless, techy, single track descents, as well as Highland hospitality at numerous pubs. If we had to pick one trail to ride from this epic area, it would be ‘lollipop’ starting at Annat. Start by climbing 700m in one hit, before descending into Achnashellac, a truly breathtaking trail in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. After a short blast along the road, return to the trail from the other side and if you’ve timed it right you’ll be blessed with a singletrack descent into the sunset. Bliss.
BIG mountains in Torridon
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is a magical place, set just off the coast of mainland Scotland, and the largest island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Rammed full of scintillating trails and scenery to match, Skye is one of our top riding spots in Scotland, for the sheer beauty of the place as much as anything. Our favourite trail is a point to point (made all the much easier with our guided Torridon and Skye Epic Ride Tour with private transport) that first drops down to the beach at Camasunary before threading through the glen beneath Cuillin Ridge on wonderful singletrack. There’s even a handy pick up point at a local pub, just to round off the day nicely.
Aviemore & the Cairngorms
Perhaps a bit of a cop-out, but this area just has too many epic trails for us to pick a favourite. The Cairngorms embody the Scottish Highlands’ rugged beauty at their best. Singletrack amongst the granite and heather or rooty, loamy single track in the pine forests in the foothills? It’s a tough choice to pick between. The Lairig Ghru offers dramatic mountain scenery and technical challenges, or alternatively, the Inshriach Forest has countless fun, singletrack trails to play on.
Trails through the Heather and Gorse in the Cairngorms
A true adventure out into the Scottish wilderness, this trail offers long climbs and long descents. Not the most technical, but one that will live long in the memory due to its remote nature and rugged wilderness, complete with a river crossing towards the end and an optional swim in the Falls of Tarf - you’ll have earned it!
Devil’s Staircase & the Ciaran Path, Glencoe
Trips to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without a certain amount of hike-a-bike - it’s part of the charm! This trail starts with a big climb up the Devil’s Staircase, a tough start to a mountain bike trail, but all the effort is worth it for the descent. The initial section to Kinlochleven is fast and full of fun, with some nice tech thrown in for good measure. The trail really comes alive at the Ciaran Path, a flowy singetrack full of tech sections to keep everyone on their toes. Following a clamber back over Glencoe, the trail ends by descending the Devil’s Staircase, making that initial climb more than worth it!
Scotland - The Place to be for Mountain Biking
Scotland is a playground for mountain bikers, with epic trails to be found all over the country, from cross country to downhill racing at the infamous Fort William world cup track and EWS round in the Tweed Valley, Scotland truly has it all for mountain biking. Mountains, glens, lochs, forests - the landscape caters for every style of riding. There are plenty of bike parks across the country, as well as chairlifts at Fort William and Aviemore, giving riders the closest feeling to smashing laps in the alpine resorts like Pila and Morzine. Scotland is unique to the rest of the UK with its Freedom to Roam act, essentially meaning that mountain biking is allowed across virtually any land in Scotland (other than private gardens and land used for growing crops). This opens a vast network of paths and hiking tracks that may otherwise be inaccessible, making Scotland one of the best places to mountain bike in the UK.
What Makes Scotland so Great for Mountain Biking?
BIG MOUNTAINS! Scotland is home to 282 mountains exceeding 3000ft (approx. 1,000m), as well as the tallest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis. Ben Nevis is located in the Nevis region, just 7 miles from the bike shattering world cup track at Fort William. In 2022, Fort William hosts the UCI World Cup Downhill race on 21-22 May 2022.
Scotland also has epic views, as the mountains rise straight from the sea, giving the whole place a dramatic atmosphere that you’ll struggle to beat anywhere in the world. Scotland also has a vastness unlike most of the UK, with seemingly endless space to explore.
Unspoilt rugged landscapes covered in purple hues, stunning coastlines and warm hospitality. What isn’t to love about Scotland!