So, part 2 of the 7 Stanes Glentress trail guide and it’s time to start climbing. You’ve got a choice here that determines exactly how much climbing you’re going to do and what sections you’ll finish up on so it’s pretty important where you decide to swap four wheels for two.
The bottom car park, right next to the aforementioned hub (see part one), is the lowest possible entry point and starts you off with a quick cycle up the entrance road. On your way up this you pass the Red Squirrel car park, so called because of a big wooden red rodent at the entrance, which is a popular starting point if you want to avoid the busy chaos of the hub car park. Starting at the red squirrel cuts out a bit of on-road climbing at the start but also ensures you miss the very last section of trail on the way back. Fortunately it’s only a short section of blue so it’s a fair exchange in order to gain a little free height at the start!
Leaving the Red Squirrel you pass the toilet block and veer onto the first bit of singletrack which is a fun little 1k intro to the trail. It’s a rollercoaster-style up-and -down and on a steep hillside so it gets the blood flowing nicely. From there you go back onto the road and follow it for a bit of a slog (about 1k) up to optional start point number three, the Buzzard’s Nest.
The buzzard’s nest is the car park built to accompany the free-ride park and is normally chock-a-block with downhill and freeride bikes every weekend. It’s also right next to the skills loop so if you’re looking for a quick blast on the jumps or a little bit of skills honing then it’s a good place to start. If you’re planning to do the red or black trail though it’s a bit of a pain in the ass to get back to, necessitating either a big departure from the red half way down or head on and face the aforementioned slog back up the road to get back to your car. Either way you miss out the bottom section of red/black trail which is a great way to end your day so I rarely take the buzzard’s nest option. I’m a Red Squirrel man myself, but nothing wrong with starting at the bottom if you’re looking for a cake and coffee at the end.
After buzzard’s nest you’ve got a further climb up some more fireroad, thankfully not as hefty as the previous section. This passes the entrance to the freeride track and heads on to the first section of downhill, Pennel’s Vennel.
Pennel’s Vennel is a great little start to the trail, short but sweet. It begins with a couple of steep, sharp downhill switchbacks followed by some fast little jumps. Half-way down there’s a sharp left hander followed by a tricky, rock covered descent which I’ve seen claim a few victims. It catches you off guard after the previous flat bits but it’s good fun and leads onto the end of the section. The very last part used to push the limits of a red trail, spitting you out through a steep, tight, root covered chute which had me over my bars on one of my first few visits. It’s been flattened out a little now, but if you take the option to the left of the tree it’ll still test you as you break back out onto the road.
Next, it’s actually possible to nip back to Buzzard’s Nest, but if you continue the red it’s back to the uphill! I’ll leave that for part 3 though. Hope you enjoyed the start of the trail!