Mountain biking in Scotland: it’s going to be a bumpy go …

How do you get two teens into mountain biking? At the award-winning Comrie Croft near Perth, Kevin Rushby replaces well, with one of them

On the first night, sitting around the campfire, I start to get an idea why Comrie Croft mountain biking centre is a success. The clue is in the remote flash of other campfires flecked around an extensive birch woodland on a hillside above a hollow. There is a sense of space: the ardors are far enough away from one another to smother conference and laugh, but close enough for a neighbor to walk over with the offer of a tool to cut firewood, or plainly to chit-chat. It find wild but well-managed. A string of geese winging across the moon is the loudest noise, punctuated by the calls of owls and snipe. We have just arrived. We dont even have our bikes yet, but the magic has started.

Comrie Croft

Next morning, we fulfill Scott, our template and teacher. Im with two daughters, Maddy( 13 ), and a sidekicks son, Fred( 14 ). My mission is to convince these two teens that mountain biking is recreation and worth engage. Neither has done much of it before. Both are wary and I am fearful. Scott doesnt realise it, but what happens next could be decisive.

Maddy
Maddy tries out the tuition direction

We begin with some basic skills training on a trend next to Comrie Crofts headquarters. There are some bumps and cambered deflects. Maddy and Fred search tentative. Scotts advice is short and simple, and he chastens a few obvious faults. We experience more confident and head off up the hill to the Crofts 16 km of lines, all is considered that a bit of tuition has helped a lot.

The croft is a former 231 -acre farm, bought thanks to a crowd-funded expedition and now with over 50 local shareholders, becoming it something of a hybrid of community project and private enterprise. The target is to reap both social and environmental welfares, and make a reasonable profit. It sits 15 miles west of Perth on the hems of the Grampian mountains, examining south from all the regions of the valley of Strathearn towards the Torlum and Laggan mounds. The prevail of the place ought to have moved an unremarkable farm into a prize-winning, job-creating, environment-friendly cycling powerhouse. In 2016 it was voted UK Trail and Bike Park of the Year by useds of the iBikeride website.

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Our first go at uphill cycling, nonetheless, surely seems to lack a bit strength. Uphill on a bike is a great way to agitate those inner demons that moan: You cant do this. Make it up. You hate it! Mutters that become calls when youre on a steep, gravelly descent and make a small boulder that wont get out of the way. Its a battle, but Scott notices several excuses to pause and chat.

At a line of trees, we stop and canvas the viewpoint: a great sweeping panorama of Strathearn. Around us are rolling hillsides of bracken, patches of trees, and hills of bare boulder. Snaking around this are the bike paths: there are more further up, but we arent going to explore those today. In additive, the hollow is strung with other roadways, drawing longer goes possible.

We set off down. This is a off-color lead moderate but Id say its at the tougher death of the spectrum. Maddy and Fred cope well, but merely Fred told me that he experiencing it. Near the bottom, there are close-fisted deflects and startles, then a loop-the-loop back to do it again. Fred does that several times; Maddy travels twice.

Fred
Fred on the Blue extend

Next, Scott is taking us on a cross-country razz to the town of Comrie, where we will have lunch. This is a lovely trail through orchards of giant Wellingtonia trees, past a cascade and along grassy glades. We stop to watch a ruby-red squirrel. I was really enjoying that downhill fleck, Maddy acknowledges. But then I realised Id have to ride back up it.

No, you dont, does Scott. If you are tired later, I can get the van to pick you up. This perks her up. The universe of an escape clause has changed the entire landscape. We chew a hearty lunch at the Comrie Hotel, then set off up to see the Deils Cauldron, a local waterfall. Sticky toffee pudding is, in my view, the pinnacle of culinary fabrication, but I can confirm that it doesnt help you reach any pinnacles on a bike. The ride down from the waterfall, however, is a wonderful thing: long, shady, golden glades on a trail soft with pine needles and leaves its worth all the effort going up it.

Maddy
Maddy in the hammock outside the kata

Back at the campsite, Maddy takes to the hammock by the campfire, while Fred goes off on the motorcycle again. I remember Ive noted my sport, he tells. The venture in get girls to be active has had some success.

We are staying in one of the websites Nordic katas , a type of solid-walled tipi with a low-toned sleep programme, log burner and basic cook material. The additional opening and consolation over a family tent clear them excellent price. In snow, I suppose, they would be a lot of fun.

Strolling around the locate, I bump into a few cases guests, some of them seasoned mountain bikers who are regulars, but there are others, very: baby-walkers, campers and wildlife buffs. I came to try and spot the beavers down in the river, one guy tells me, and then presents some directions.

Signs
Signs of beaver pleasure near Comrie

Next morning at daybreak, I head off by bicycle and then on foot towards the river. Almost immediately, I pick up signalings of beaver task: freshly gnawed trees that have descended across a sewage canal. Clearly, the animals are here and doing their profession. The Scottish parliament has recently proclaimed the beaver a native species, which entails it is an offence to kill one, something a few cases foolish someones have done. There are thought to be around 160 living here, and in areas that have suffered submerge the gentle management of the beaver can only assist. Fish stocks, bugs and bird life are likewises set to benefit.

Back at the camps cafe, I stand outside, bacon sandwich and coffee in hand. Within a mile of me, the beavers are sleeping, while overhead red-faced kites are surging thats another success fib. Not exclusively that, but one girl is now into cycling, while another has learned to sleep in a hammock. Both are now toasting marshmallows on a campfire for breakfast. In all the havoc of contemporary life, I tell myself, occasions sometimes do get better, and especially at Comrie Croft.

Accommodation was provided by Comrie Croft ; katas sleep eight, from 499 a few weeks or 229 a weekend; camping from 8; dorm bunks 20; en suite doublings from 44. Full/ half-day motorcycle hire 28/22( under-1 6s 20/16) with Comrie Croft Bikes ; tuition 35 -1 50. There are hot rains, a cafe, bicycle patronize and 100 Mile Store selling fresh raise and lockers with billing sockets. Rail travel to Perth was provided by Virgin Trains East Coast , which flows direct develops from London via York

Five more favourite mountain bike parks

Mountain
Laggan Wolftrax in the Cairngorms. Image: Alamy

BikePark Wales
A network of routes in the South Wales hollows for all abilities, from lineage loops-the-loops to gnarly bumpy runs.

Farmer Johns MTB Park, Peak District
Downhill biking, with a mixture of terrains from woodland to meadows.

Laggan Wolftrax, Scottish Highlands
Over 20 miles of purpose-built routes through the forest on the edge of the Cairngorms national park. Suitable for all levels, and with a new cafe for refuelling.

Black Mountains Cycle Centre
On the edge of the Brecon Beacons national park, theres something for everyone, with splendid scenery.

Forest of Dean Mountain Biking Trails
From family routes along former railway lines to large-scale ski run stops and new skills neighborhood for practising, theres abundance to choose from, plus a great cafe and shop.

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