I ventured up to the far north of Scotland in December for a long weekend and thought I’d check out one of the local trails while I was up there. It turned out to be a choice between Strathpeffer (the location of the infamous Strathpeffer puffer) and The Learnie Red and since I was a bit strapped for time (and light!) I went for Learnie, a short trail just north of Fortrose. I wasn’t expecting too much as it seemed to just be another small forestry commission project but I thought it’d be worth a try.
Well, when I got there I was surprised to find a trail which was as well looked after and professionally constructed as most of the far more heavily used trails further south! The first thing I’ll say is that the Black run was closed for forestry operations so I didn’t see any of it apart from a quick scout on foot. The red/blue run, though, was good enough for that day.
The red/blue run is a short route, easily under an hour if you’re hurrying, but it’s got some good wee sections in, not least the climb up to an amazing view over the Moray firth. It’s certainly not a demanding course by any means, but it’s enjoyable, and there’s a couple of sections you can let the bike go and let fly. There was a great surprise near the end, as I was beginning to get itchy for some more riskyness, when we discovered the last section was as different from the rest of the trail as a trail can be! It’s a downhill built as a loop so that you can easily repeat it as many times as you like. And you’ll want to! It’s a steep, fast descent cut into the hillside with the biggest berms you’ll ever see and a few jumps at the bottom to match. The first time down I was railing about half-way up the berms and getting surprised by the jumps, but on round 2 you can fully appreciate their height, keeping tons of speed as you whip round their immense banks and launch into the jumps. It’s a short section, but sweet, much like the trail as the whole!
There’s even a jump park at the car park that I had a little razz around in at the end which was totally unexpected for such a remote, quiet trail. I was dissapointed to miss out on all the black run but I had a great couple of hours at Learnie Red Rock despite that and I’d fully recommend it to anyone, especially if you get some black trail action thrown in there as well!