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84. Glentress

start: The Hub car park, Glentress
distance: 37 km
OS map: 73

Glentress route mapA super route which finishes with a fine technical downhill on the purpose-built Glentress trails. The only downside is a 1.6km stretch along the main road which can't easily be avoided, though it might be possible to work a route along the banks of the Tweed.

[update: there's now a purpose-built cycle/walking route linking Peebles and Innerleithen. For the most part, it follows the old rail bed with a new bridge being built to cross the Tweed. There's a link trail starting directly opposite the entrance to Glentress on the main A72 and it leads down to join the cycle route]

Start from the main car park at Glentress - cycle shop and cafe if required - and head east along the A72. Turn in to the Cardrona estate and pick up the quieter road to Traquair along the south side of the river. Pass the Bear Gates entrance to Traquair House, the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland. The gates were locked in 1744 after Bonnie Prince Charlie departed and they will remain locked until there is a Stuart King is restored to the throne...

Follow the road into Innerleithen and take the road for Heriot at the far end of the main street - you're actually following NCR 1. The road cuts through the middle of Innerleithen Golf Course so watch out for flying white things.

After about six km from Innerleithen, take a left turn up the valley towards Leithen Lodge. It used to be that you got shouted at by the factor here, but the new Access Code seems to have done the trick and I'm not aware of any problems. Pass the lodge and eventually the tarred road turns to track. Just before Williamslee at (312 437) you need to take the track to the laft and heading uphill.

Bad news: you've now got a climb of about 350m or well over 1000ft up to the mast at Dunslair Heights. Good news: the track is good and the gradient is really not as desperate as you might have thought. More good news: the views just keep getting better! Eventually you'll come to trees; you're heading north at this point. Go through the gate and take a turning heading SW at (292 439). This will bring to the mast at the top of the hill. Just a few yards before reaching the mast, there's a turn to the left and this is your way down.

Catch your breath for a few minutes and consider the options. Anyone using the Glentress trails should be aware that singletrack trails are one way and no one is going to thank you if you go the wrong way! Forest tracks however can be used in either direction. The routes are graded blue, red and black - blue is the easiest and black the hardest. They should be well-signed but it can be a bit confusing if you haven't been before.

We're not going to attempt to describe the intricacies of the routes but will just make a couple of points. Whichever route you take isn't going to be downhill all the way back to the car park and there are one or two gentle uphill sections. Likewise, all routes will be mostly singletrack but they will use the forest tracks to connect different sections. Look out for the signs and if you get hopelessly lost just head downhill on one of the wider forest tracks until you get your bearings! Most of all, though, these trails are superb fun so enjoy!

Whichever route you take you'll end up back in the car park so treat yourself to coffee and a snack at the Hub Cafe - of course, if you're really keen you'll probably want to go back up and do it again!

Glentress is part of the 7 Stanes network and is a popular destination which can get quite busy at weekends. There are a number of organised events so you might want to check a couple of websites before planning your trip.

john b, galashiels

Download GPS data in GPX format.
NB: the GPS data just takes you to Dunslair Heights - it's up to you which route you choose to come down...;-)

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