Forget Princes Street, hello king's singletrack

With recent developments in the Border region, the Pentland Hills seem to have almost dropped off the mtb radar, which is a shame, as this compact pocket of heather-topped hills boasts some class natural trails, with fine riding and a tremendously remote outlook that belies the close proximity of the capital.

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It starts with an easy track-climb to the reservoir. Call in spring or early summer and you’d think you’d just been beamed to the coast, such is the volume of the seagull colony that nests on the lake.

Singletrack now takes over, and offers plenty of challenges to anyone hoping for a clean round — especially the narrow bridge that spans the gushing burn at the start. These sections never seem to last long enough, and before you know it you’re plummeting back down again, now on a wide and open grassy track, laden with bumpy log-bridges that are guaranteed to shake out the odd filling. There are a few sweet singletrack bypasses to seek out if you fancy a change from the wooden trail.

The middle-eight is a progression of narrow lanes — easy going and sure to up your average. And then it’s right back onto the rough again, this time with a long, steady pull onto the flanks of the shapely duo of West and East Kip.

The climbing’s not quite over yet, but there’s only a short distance to go before gravity offers a hand once more; this time to sweep you along a grassy ridge-top path before dropping steeply through fields to the finish.

A sting in the tail is often bad news, but this one’s different — a short, sharp and very sweet singletrack wraps the whole thing up nicely.

view of Edinburgh city from the Pentlands

Forget Princes Street, hello king’s singletrack

Download the GPS route from our City Limits feature in the July 2012 issue.

Andy Barlow from Dirt School gets extra curricular

Andy Barlow from Dirt School gets extra curricular