Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

This is one of the toughest rides we’ve ever featured on these pages, and the seriousness of the undertaking is only exacerbated by the remote setting and the lack of easy escape routes. It’s one to tackle when you really feel on top of your game, and even then, wait for a good day unless you’re a real sucker for punishment. Get it right, though, and you’ll be rewarded with one the best rides you’ll ever do. It contains some huge climbs, some great descents and even the odd section of delightful, technical singletrack thrown in for good measure. We’ve featured the opening leg from Alwinton up to Ulsway Burn a few times over the years, and anyone who’s ridden it will understand why. It’s a fine climb, on good tracks, amongst superb scenery. And the descent to the stream’s quite sweet too. From here, it’s rough tracks all the way up onto the remote Border Ridge, which is definitely a point of no return. The drop into Scotland is technically easy: a winding ribbon of well-surfaced track that’s exhilarating at speed. But it’s a long way down, and the climb out again is extremely tough. To make things worse, there’s no escape route if things go wrong. Once back on the border ridge, things become less stressful, and there’s an easy-out from the top of Croquetdale, if you’re really feeling it, although it’ll cost you a wonderful section of singletrack that is definitely the technical highlight of the ride.
If you can find the strength, stick with it to Shilmoor at least, and bale out there. But even then you’ll miss a couple of sweet little sections, as well as losing the satisfaction of having ridden the whole thing.