The Black Route
The Glentress Black Route Stats
Grade: Black - Severe
Estimated Time To Ride The Route: 3 - 5 hrs
The Glentress Black Route is a long, technical ride that includes epic climbing and thrilling descending.
The route starts from the Peel Car Park, climbing up on the same forest road and singletrack trail that’s used by the Red route. The trail splits from the red route shortly after the Buzzard’s Nest Car Park.
From the Buzzard’s Nest car park, follow the forest road. Go past the turn off for the red route (on the right) and continue on the road towards the first section of dedicated black-graded singletrack: the boneshaking Soor Plooms, an undulating section that hugs the hillside and eventually deposits you back on a remote forest road. Carry on the road towards the Goat Track.
The Goat Track
More technical again, the Goat Track is rough and rocky with steep drop-offs and loose, stoney descents, including the challenging Stone Chute. As you follow the contours of the hill, keep an eye out for the viewpoint on your left. At the end of the section, you’re back onto forest road, heading towards Tower Ride and Kipps Loop.
Tower Ride and Kipps Loop
After more steady forest road riding, you join a section of the route which heralds the start of a long stretch of climbing that takes you up to the highest part of the trail. It begins with the Tower Ride, where the trail veers steeply upwards on a climb that requires low gears and lots of strength.
After the Tower Ride, the singletrack becomes more gnarly at Kipp’s Loop as it heads into the forest, finally emerging on a hillside high above the Tweed Valley, with spectacular views which just get better as you continue climbing. It’s a long climb, 2.5km in total, on a trail that cuts up the hillside in hairpins.
Finally, the viewpoint, with wooden shelter, provides an ideal and stunning spot for a rest. But don’t relax too much: the climbing isn’t over yet. Gather yourself for tackling Britney Spears and The Mustard Snake.
Britney Spears (hit me baby one more time)
Britney offers a brief blast of downhill singletrack, steep and fast with bermed corners, and deposits you at the foot of another climb, The Mustard Snake. This leads up to Dunslair Heights and the TV mast – and what seems like the highest point for miles in every direction.
After the TV mast, the trail follows the forest road for a stretch, then you’re back onto the singletrack at the Boundary Trail.
This stony singletrack trail cuts around the edge of the forest, dipping in to the trees and back out for a total of 3.4km. This is a classic cross-country trail, up and down and challenging all the way. The surface is very rough in places and the exposure is at times rather intimidating, suggesting caution as a spill off the trail could be a long one.
Another shelter at Leithen Door is a good place for a breather if you need it, before the trail corkscrews down a steep hill to bring you back on to a forest road, and then on to the mouth of Deliverance.
To climb or not to climb?
At this point, if you want to miss out most of the Redemption Climb (see below), you can opt to continue on the forest road, rather than riding Deliverance. Follow the road for about 1.5km, passing the exit of the blue-graded Betty Blue (on your right) and then around 500m later look out for the entrance for rejoining the Black route on your left. A short descent here brings you back on to the trail around three quarters of the way up Redemption Climb.
Deliverance and Redemption Climb
This is a strength-testing, 5km loop that initially drops down into the valley, over loose, rocky trails, crossing a couple of small bridges and the Hope Burn on the way. Once you’ve crossed the burn, the trail runs parallel to it for a while then swings right, round the foot of Green Hill, to the start of Redemption Climb.
The trail gains 130m in height over the course of this long, leg-sapping ascent. There are a few switchbacks to negotiate, leading you to a viewpoint at Green Hill. From here, the trail continues along the side of the hill and bears round to the left, heading towards Kirn Law, where the trail climbs again, gaining another 40m of height.
You’ll finally emerge at Ewok Village, where the last of the shelter huts provides a welcome rest stop after the rigours of the climbing.
Ewok village and Double X
Unfortunately at the moment the timber features in Ewok Village have been removed as they had reached the end of their lifespans.
For now, follow the trail as it winds through the trees, heading for Double X. Crossing the road, the entry to Double X is by a technical, twisting descent over log-edged steps leading to more log features and log skinnies.
The Bitch and the Worm Hole
These sections contain some of the most technical riding on the route; The Bitch is very steep and rocky and has some tight turns that will test your bike control and nerve. The Worm Hole has an intimidating rock step entry and its dark confines are twisting and slippery.
After The Wormhole, the trail largely shares with the Red Route on the return home. The final section at Falla Brae is a fun descent featuring a short black-graded option which leads back to the trailhead at the Osprey Car Park.