This is the next gravel route blog to follow up the very popular first 5 Tweed Valley Gravel routes I shared. There is so much amazing riding in this area that it wasn’t hard to find another 5 amazing routes to share , especially considering being locked down for most of 2020 and forced to explore every local track!
I have also revisited the ever popular original 5 Tweed Valley Gravel routes blog so take another look at that too. Unfortunately the Komoot open source mapping has updated and the GPX tracks I had ridden went a bit nuts inn places since I uploaded them in 2018 so I tweaked a couple of them to improve them.
It is 2 years since the first routes were uploaded and I now have a toddler which means epic 100km+ routes are harder to find time for. Therefore these next five are shorter rides (with one exception), but still have sections verging on the mountain bike side of things, with a couple of hike a bikes and one true epic. These are in no way official routes, just places I’ve enjoyed riding and I’ve shared, ride at your own risk as things will change on the routes over time. Enjoy!
Tweed Valley Gravel Route 6
This is a short blast of the classic Glentress to Bowbeat wind farm loop. In a quick ride it can be done in 2.5 hours or less with all the return on the road or cycle path to Peebles. A solid 800m of climbing takes you up up high with views of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth at the top of the infamous turbine climb. The secret is out since I did the first 5 routes in 2018 and Bowbeat is now a must ride for gravellists in the area or even those visiting.
Tweed Valley Gravel Route 7
Again back up to Bowbeat wind farm, but this route goes thoroughly off piste with a boggy hike a bike link on the outer edge of the wind farm. It offers an adventurous loop that very few will know is possible, as it heads north it reaches the fringes of Edinburgh. Once at the wind farm be prepared for a short, very boggy hike a bike that can be vague to follow, don’t say you weren’t warned! You certainly need a map and good route finding for this section, however it has awesome rewards as you drop down towards Gladhouse reservoir on a great track. Once at the end of the track the rest of the route is pretty easy and a lot of fun. You can just return down the A702 to Peebles which is a busy road or do only a short section on the A702 with the addition of the Meldons gravel section which is much more pleasant. I have ended with a tough climb up the infamous Sware road into Peebles, but you could go around the back of Cademuir or even up and down the Manor Valley to add a few more kilometres. While you can start from any access point or even ride out from Edinburgh, only do this loop anti-clockwise as the descent from the wind farm is certainly not rideable up hill.
Tweed Valley Gravel Route 8
This is some classic gravel with a traverse section to the final descent that is verging on really needing a mountain bike and a short hike a bike. While you can’t go far wrong it does need careful navigation as it does a couple of loops around the smooth scenic gravel roads in Cardrona Forest. This forest is popular with horses so watch out and slow down for them, it’s a generally quieter forest so bikes are less expected. Unlike many areas there are no mountain biking trails in this forest but the gravel tracks are open to ride with great views over the Tweed Valley. The traverse out of Cardrona to Gypsy Glen is really mountain biking terrain and will involve two sections of hike a bike for most people ( I have ridden it all on a Tripster ATR though – so there’s a challenge!). The descent down into Glen Sax this route takes is easier than the popular Gypsy Glen MTB route, which can I guess be ridden on drop bars but really goes well beyond fun gravel bike remit. The track to Glen Sax can be hard to spot as you need to turn slightly uphill from the gate and it is also steep in places so be prepared. The track down Glen Sax is near a working farm and can be busy with walkers too so again watch your speed back down to Peebles. This is a nice quick Sunday morning jaunt rather than anything epic.
Tweed Valley Gravel Route 9
This is an epic, a big day best left for summer or good weather. It follows a leisurely start but don’t let that relax you too much. The steep climb to the 3 Brethren is tough, the ride along the top is best in dry weather but fun. It then joins a short section of vague path after the gate, just until it connects to a new forestry planting track which goes downhill fast. From here it explores Bowhill Duchess Drive and up and over to Ettrick valley. From Ettrick it goes up the very enjoyable Berry Bush climb. A descent on forest tracks to St Mary’s Loch preludes the notorious gravel ‘Shielhope Steeps’ which is not for the weak legged, there is a long way round on the road which is easier and obvious on the map. Then it is a steady climb on farm and hill tracks to the final descent into Manor Valley, this is a tough descent in the wet on a gravel bike because it is quite boggy then grassy in places, so best left for a dry spell. It is all rideable on a gravel bike…just keep telling yourself that as it starts getting dark and steep.
Tweed Valley Gravel Route 10
This is loosely called the Innerleithen 3 leaf clover, it is a mixed bag, fast fun gravel interspersed with a couple of descents that need a wee bit of concentration. Nothing too bad though. Innerleithen locals will recognize all the parts of this loop and it’s a bit of a mix and match route that I like. When in Traquair Forest you can extend it out to the remote Glengaber cottage and ride the new forest track over the hill back to Damhead farm before going up the road to Paddock Slacks climb, however this means a small section of hike a bike so I opted for the easier descent to Campshiel instead. You can also keep going over to Yarrow Valley on a subtle track but I’ll let you find this and add it on if you feel the need to go further…..