Craik Forest For Mountain Biking
The 30th most popular mountain bike trail in UK.
Saturday 13 August 2016 01:35 GMT
South of Edinburgh, the 36 mile Craik Forest loop starts from the Tushielaw Inn. A fairly long and reasonably strenuous route on minor roads and forest tracks. Part of the route follows an old Roman road which goes through Craik Forest and over Craik Cross Hill.
Start at the Tushielaw Inn. This can be reached from Selkirk by going up the Ettrick valley, from Hawick by going through Roberton or from Langholm by going through Eskdalemuir (in the latter case, though, youd be going over the same ground twice and so might be better to start from Eskdalemuir). The grid reference for the Tushielaw Inn is (303 177). Head for Hawick on the B711 following the Rankle Burn. After five miles or so you ll come to an entrance to Craik forest on the R at (366 157). Theres a cairn here at the place where the old Redfordgreen School used to be - a fairly bleak spot in winter, Id think.
Anyway, head into the forest here. Youll see a small loch through the trees on your L before coming to Kingside Loch. Theres been a lot of clearcutting around here. Another couple of miles or so will bring you to a junction at (330 105). Turn L heading for Craik. There are quite a few marked trails in Craik for cyclists, walkers and horse mountain bike riders. Forestry Enterprise produces a free map which shows them - address on the info page. Youre looking for a trail on the R just before the car park at Craik. There are two close together - you want the second one which is marked for red, purple and green cycle routes. The purple and red routes diverge after a while and its the green one that takes you SW and upwards to what was a Roman signal station on the top of Craik Cross Hill. In wet weather the last couple of hundred or so metres can be soft going. Fine views from the top in all directions - this is the high point of the route.
Now for the downhill push. This is the boundary of Craik Forest but the course of the old Roman road continues ahead and downhill. Push down here - on your L is a clearcut area and youre aiming for where it finishes and forest starts again after about 400 metres. The course of the Roman road goes straight on but when you get to the edge of the trees, go over the fence and theres another downhill push of about 400 metres following what was a firebreak downhill to join a forest track at (304 042). Turn R.
Ignore a track on the L after 100m and continue for a couple of miles to a T junction. Turn L and downhill to some disused buildings at Raeburnhead. From here, head SW to Raeburnside and on to Raeburnfoot and the site of a Roman fort. A bridge over the Esk but it doesnt exist so youre just going to get wet feet crossing at the ford. A couple of hundred metres brings you to the Eskdalemuir road. Turn R. A short way along along here youll come to the Samye Ling Tibetan Centre on the R.
From here its all on road, past the Eskdalemuir observatory and, later, the seismological station up to the watershed at the edge of the forest at (253 072). Its 8 or 9 miles now following the Tima Water, then the Ettrick, back to Tushielaw.
Overall, Craik Forest is the 30th most popular mountain bike trail of all 93 mountain biking rides in UK.