Cycling In South West Scotland – Great Routes For All Abilities

If you’re planning on cycling in South West Scotland, the great news is that there are plenty of routes to choose from, whether you want to do a long ride over several days, or just fun rides in safe places with the kids.

Here is a selection of some great routes for cycling in South West Scotland.

1. Mountain Biking at 7 Stanes

The 7 Stanes mountain biking centres are dotted around Southern Scotland, from the Borders to Dumfries and Galloway.  Interestingly the “stanes” are so named as stane is the Scottish word for stone, and each centre has a stone sculpture which reflects a local legend – so make sure to look out for them during your visit.

cycling in south west scotland

Each centre offers a range of biking trails for all abilities.  Here’s an overview of a couple of the centres close to Kippford.

DALBEATTIE Centre near Dumfries

This is the closest 7 Stanes centre to Coastal Kippford and here you’ll find the Heart Cleft Stane – a huge heart shaped sculpture in granite which symbolises the fact that nearby Kirkcudbrightshire was once the centre of Southern Scotland’s granite industry.

There are recommended routes for different abilities.

Ironhash Trail (Easy – 7.2 miles) – A gentle ride on forest roads with a short uphill section, rewarded by great views over Dalbeattie.  Great for beginners and kids.

Moyle Hill Trail (Moderate – 8.7 miles) – Slightly more challenging as there are rocky sections and some uphill climbs – but the views over the Urr estuary make the challenge worth completing.

Hardrock Trail (Difficult – 15.6 miles) – hard by name, hard by nature!  You’ll cycle along miles of single track, starting with The Slab – a steep section of granite which is bound to thrill as you whizz down it. There are also some optional trickier sections if you want to push your skills to the limit.

For more information and a map of the Dalbeattie 7 Stanes bike trail map, visit the Scotland Forestry website.

MABIE Centre near Dumfries

This is about 17 miles from Coastal Kippford and offers a range of trails from easy to an extreme downhill section only recommended for mountain bike experts.  Keep an eye out for the Ghost Stane – a spooky, female shaped 2.25 ton sculpture made from white marble.

Big Views Loop (Easy – 5 miles) – a pleasant ride with manageable gradients and fabulous views over the Nith Estuary and Solway Firth.

Woodhead Loop (Moderate – 6.3 miles) – slightly harder than the previous trail and based on forest roads and easy singletrack.

Phoenix Trail (Difficult – 11.9 miles) – great for those who like a challenge!  The route goes cross-country on natural trails and singletrack, and has some rocky obstacles and tight berms.

For more information and a map of the Mabie 7 Stanes bike trail map, visit the Scotland Forestry website.

For further information about all of the 7 Stanes centres, the Scotland Forestry website provides all of the details.

2. National Cycle Route 7

This 601 mile route runs from Sunderland to Inverness, with the Carlisle to Glasgow stretch passing through Dumfries and Galloway – this is known as the Lochs & Glens (south) cycle route.

cycling in south west scotland

Cyclists can join the route where ever they wish, and go as far as their legs will take them!  For example you could join the route at Dumfries and head out to Cargenbridge along the old railway line.  The route then follows country roads to Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright, and close to the coast towards Gatehouse of Fleet.  Then you’re on to Newton Stewart and the Galloway Forest Park.

That may be far enough for amateur cyclists, but if you’re looking for a far bigger challenge, the whole Carlisle to Glasgow route, at 214 miles, may be more your thing!

For more information about this section of the National Cycle Route 7, visit the Sustrans website.

3. Circular On-Road Cycle Routes

The internet is awash with routes for cycling in South West Scotland.  Route You has a great selection of routes, with the added advantage that they can be downloaded to the Route You app on your smartphone.

Here are details of a couple of good routes.

Along Glenkiln Reservoir And Up To Dunscroe

A 33.4 mile circular bike ride on roads with low traffic.  It takes you as far north as the small village of Dunscroe and has some tough climbs along the way.  The route goes close to the Glenkiln Reservoir and the Glenkiln Sculpture Park – but you won’t find many sculptures there as the majority were removed after one was stolen in 2013.  However a nice, albeit slightly challenging, road based cycle route.

Route details can be downloaded to a number of apps.  Click here to see more.

Through Villages to Annan Castle

A 27.9 mile circular route that takes in a few villages, as well as Annan Castle.  There’s a long uphill section in the first 9 miles, but then it’s downhill to the castle and beyond.  Why not stop off and admire Annan Castle which was built in the 12th century by the Brus family, Lords of Annandale.

Route details can be downloaded to a number of apps.  Click here to see more.

The South West Coastal Route

cycling in south west scotland

This 49.3 mile circular route takes you from the centre of Dumfries out towards Southerness where you’ll have stunning views of the sea. The route onwards to Dalbeattie is quite flat, but there are some uphill climbs to reach Castle Douglas. You then head back to Dumfries on an old military road.

As you can see there are literally hundreds of routes for cycling in South West Scotland. All you need to do is to decide if you want to mountain bike on trails, or visit local villages and landmarks via country roads. And of course, be realistic about your abilities so you don’t get half way through a circular route and realise you don’t have enough energy to get back to where you started.

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Coastal Kippford (aka Kippford Holiday Park)