30 September 2022.

Stirling, Cycling & Mount...

With miles of routes ranging over the flat expanses of the Carse of Stirling and tougher more testing roads leading into the hills that bound it, Stirling has proved a popular spot for road cycling for many years.

However, little is known of Stirling as a mountain biking destination except by a privileged few of the mountain biking fraternity. Probably because the locals have sought to keep this bit of mountain-bike heaven a secret for as long as possible. But of course you can’t keep a good thing quiet for long these days and expectedly Stirling now features in some of the more recently published guide books. And justifiably so!

Whichever corner or side of Stirling you stray from the beginning of an off or on-road trail is never far away. From leafy rural roads and quiet country lanes to natural singletrack through deciduous woodlands and over open hillsides there is a lot of every kind of riding on offer here including some manmade mountain biking trails.

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There is some pretty decent freeride sections in the Mine Woods behind Bridge of Allan. Cambusbarron also scores well here where efforts by local riders have seen the development of some excellent features including jumps onto stretches of north shore followed by drop offs and then more jumps and jumps that fly over existing trails. However, the proximity on some of the landings and indeed during airtime travel to large solid objects – trees – may put some people off.

Downhillers have got to try out Dumyat. It’s a slog up if you’re not that way inclined but the blast down is well worth it. There are actually four routes down one of which can only be described as plunging. It’s actually on a fairly broad grassy Landrover track while the rest are on singletrack that can at times prove sketchy to say the least.

XC - Cross-Country

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There are two sides to Stirling when it comes to off-road action. There are the woods on either bank of the River Allan by Bridge of Allan toward Kippenrait Glen and Dunblane that provide some fast flowing unmarked single track. In the same vicinity and part of the same route if you wish to make it so, is the hill of Dumyat, pronounced dumb-eye-at. This hill presents a tough climb with technical bits and in reverse some swoopy downhill with hairy bits. Other notable areas are Mine Woods where some locals have built some big features, Hermitage Wood situated just behind Stirling University and Sheriffmuir Big Wood that lies to the west of Dunblane.

On the other side of town there is the marvellous Cambusbarron Woods with their numerous tracks running through tunnels formed of Rhododendron bushes. Beyond Cambusbarron you enter the North Third, an idyllic reservoir overlooked by high cliffs shrouded in mixed forest. Between these two places riders can have an absolute ball. There are technical climbs, swoopy downhill sections, cliff-top nail-biters and some HUGE jumps. All are totally natural with the exception of the odd jump. One reporter commented “this is some of the best natural singletrack in Scotland.”

Less than ten miles from Stirling is one of Scotland’s latest manmade mountain biking centres, Carron Valley. Only recently developed it currently has only one trail, the red graded “Kelpie Trails”. It’s pretty short and can be completed in less than an hour. However, there is no limit to how many times you go round it and it can be combined with a cycle to and from Stirling which should add another hour each way. This can also be done as a circular so there’s no need to retrace steps. Carron Valley offers fast flowing swoopy riding with some nice features including a rock garden in a downward direction, a few nice berms and several doubles but nothing too technical. It is hoped that the centre will be developed further sometime in the near future.

The popular cycling resorts of Callander and Aberfoyle are less then twenty and thirty minutes respectively from Stirling by car. From each of these there is also plenty of riding to be had both on and off-road.

Road Cycling

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All around Stirling visitors will find pleasantly quiet country lanes that provide a relatively safe environment for on road cycling. These roads can be found leaving the city in almost every direction. Some of them form part of national and other cycle routes. Others are simply conducive to the sport of cycling. Sheriffmuir to the north provides a testing climb and excellent views over Stirlingshire and Southern Perthshire while the trail west of Stirling leads all the way to Callander and Aberfoyle beyond. To the south another climb is followed with a rapid descent into Carron Valley and views of North Lanarkshire.