Thanks to the 7-Stanes project, there are some top notch MTB trails which are definitely worth checking out. And even more being developed as we speak. For now, you definitely want to check out the Hardrock trail at Dalbeattie, near Dumfries. The 29km of trail includes swooping singletrack through forest, rocky technical bits, thrilling slabs, and good views out to the sea.
Here is the link to the Dalbeattie info. There is a downloadable map too, although the trail is well enough marked that you can get away without it. The trailbuilders have done a great job at Dalbeattie. One good feature is that all the hard bits have chicken runs round the side, so you can go with people of differing abilities and still all ride together without some people getting bored and others killing themselves.
Click on any of the pictures below for a full size version....
The singletrack is superb, and infinitely varied. One moment you could be heading uphill on smooth track through tall ferns, then a minute later its winding its way through a beech forest, followed by a rocky section through and over big granite lumps. Then suddenly you are on a loose and rocky downhill.
There is good wildlife too. When we were there, there were loads of butterflies everywhere, one even landed on my handlebars as I was riding uphill and flew off again, and plenty of dragonflies. I tried in vain to get a good dragonfly photo but they just move too fast to get close enough.
Absolutely top quality piece of terrain. The slab is preceded by the short rocky rollover of the qualifier, which is quite good fun in itself. But the main action is the 12m slab of steep rough granite. Just to add some excitement there are some diagonal grooves threatening to grab your front wheel and whip you off to the side. When we went there on a saturday afternoon there were a bunch of walkers hanging around with video cameras waiting for some wipeouts!! The best line is on the right hand side, easy approach, and longer and steeper. Five seconds of fast paced thrills! Whichever line you take, please don't fall off - its a long and very abrasive way down to the bottom....
After the slab, you could be forgiven for thinking that the remainder of the trail is a bit more sedentary. Not so! Next on the agenda is some delightful rocky singletrack heading up to a bit of a plateau, with views down to the sea and all the way across to Cumbria, followed by the Terrible Twins - more slab action on two baby versions of the big slab, with a short gap in between them. Then the trail winds through Spooky Wood, dense and gloomy pine forest, just the sort of place you would expect to meet the Blair witch. If you make it out of the wood alive, then there is the freeflowing downhill of Jacobs Ladder, with carefully crafted stonework on the high speed banking at the bottom.
Well worth a trip. And once all the other venues are open, you could spend a whole week in the area. The various slabs alone are worth the trip, quite a unique feature for UK MTB'ing.