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Can you have a Scottish mountain bike adventure by train?

Is it possible to access some of Scotland's most awesome riding destinations by public transport? We sent journalist, MBR Digital Editor and Spindrift Podcast founder, Aoife Glass on a mini adventure to see what was possible.

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As part of our #MTBforAll campaign, we wanted to see how easy it was to access some of our awesome riding destinations by public transport. So we approached Aoife, who doesn't drive, was up for the adventure/challenge and loves trains, to take on this mini adventure for us.

Now ordinarily, we wouldn't go from Innerleithen to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Dunblane, Dunblane to Comrie, Comrie to Dunblane, Dunblane to Stirling, Stirling to Aviemore, Aviemore to Fort William and back to Innerleithen, but for the purposes of this adventure, that's exactly what we did.

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Aoife up for the challenge ahead! Image Andrew Leinster

To be fair, this was a bit of an experiment. We wanted specifically wanted Aoife to have an Tweed Valley, Comrie Croft, Aviemore and Fort William experience, to ride those areas that really offer something for every standard of rider, with great accommodation offerings. There, of course, are so many other options across Scotland, but with only a short window for this adventure, this is what we opted for, this time.

In our experience, it is quite tricky to organise a multi destination adventure, but absolutely not impossible.

After spending quite some time on the ScotRail website, we ended up calling them direct and were extremely impressed by the help and advice we received while booking the tickets required for Aoife's adventure.

Bear in mind, if you are not planning to travel on a commuter service with a dedicated cycle carriage, you will not only need to book your ticket but you are also required to reserve a space for your bike. That can all be organised over the phone too.

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First leg of the adventure was a short hop from Innerleithen to Glentress. Image Andrew Leinster

Living so close to Glentress, it was a short spin along the cycle path for Aoife to start the adventure with a ride with friends. However, thanks to the Borders Busses X62 service, the Tweed Valley, and Glentress is accessible to more folks with a regular service from and to Edinburgh. Most of the busses have the ability to carry 4 bikes, which is pretty cool!

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Image Andrew Leinster

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Image Andrew Leinster

Aoife then continued her journey by catching the bus to Edinburgh, where we booked her on the train from Edinburgh to Dunblane, which had a cycle carriage, so there was no need to reserve a space for her bike.

To save on time, we arranged for her to be collected from Dunblane station by the good folks from Comrie Croft.

Arriving at Comrie Croft, Aoife was introduced to her accommodation, a splendid, newly refurbished, Eco Lodge and the delicious food from the on site café, she then got stuck into the trails.

If you haven't yet been to Comrie Croft - you need to! It really is one of Scotland's best trail centres perfectly capturing the spirit of Scottish mountain biking.

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Image Pete Scullion

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Image Pete Scullion

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Aoife just chilling in her Eco Lodge at Comrie Croft. Image Pete Scullion

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Lunch wasn't too shabby!

The trail centre combines a feeling of free-living, unique accommodation options including nordic kata's, wild camping, eco-lodges and hostels, a range of activities, a fantastic café, a quality bike shop, and (of course) an amazing range of trails. To find out more about the area, check out our Perthshire Ride Guide.

The next morning Aoife was on her way up to Aviemore, with a reserved space on the train for her bike.

Aviemore station is right in the heart of the town and within easy reach of stunning riding. Ancient pine forests, magical loch loops, big mountain days out or gnarly single track experiences are all on offer with accommodation choices galore.

For this short stop, we hooked Aoife up with Sally from Aviemore Bikes to give her a Cairngorms taster.

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Aviemore Bikes Image Andrew Leinster

The accessible routes in the area make this a perfect destination for family adventures. Popular routes include the Old Logging way to Glenmore and the Speyside Way that has some great riding for families between Kingussie Aviemore and Boat of Garten, on easy well maintained and relatively flat trails. For good simple fun, the village of Boat of Garten has an amazing new Pumptrack that is well worth a visit or linking into a ride along the Speyside Way from Aviemore. For more information on the area check out our Cairngorms Ride Guide.

Aoife stayed at Ravenscraig Guest House, who have many bike friendly amenities, including secure bike storage and friendly, knowledgeable staff.

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Image Andrew Leinster

A flying visit to Laggan was on the cards as Aoife loves Laggan - actually who doesn't? We wanted to show her the recent upgrades to the outdoor space around the café and bike shop which are so good!

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Image Pete Scullion

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Image Pete Scullion

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Image Pete Scullion

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Quick catch up with Cristian from Laggan Forest Trust then it was back on the road to Fort Bill. Laggan itch scratched! Image Pete Scullion

Now you can get to Fort William by train from Aviemore, but you need to travel via Inverness. So as time was tight for this adventure, we sent our Ruari across from his Lochaber home, to pick Aoife up for her Fort Bill experience.

Having visited Fort William many times before, this was to be Aoife's first ride of the longest blue route in the UK, Blue Doon at the Nevis Range.

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Image Pete Scullion

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Views for miles. Incredible opportunity for so many more riders to access views like this and have the experience of a gondola accessed blue trail. Image Pete Scullion.

Gondola accessed and providing that unique experience to so many more riders, it is fast becoming a real draw to the area, opening up that big mountain experience to those that were previously not able. To check out more about the area and the options available for your next visit, check out our Lochaber Ride Guide.

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Our Ruari very rarely has two wheels on the ground! Image Pete Scullion

After staying overnight in a cool camping pod, Aoife was on her way home, catching the train in Fort William, with a reserved space for her bike. A change is needed in Glasgow to hop over to Edinburgh, but the transition is simple and almost all services have designated cycle carriages.

Bike bus took her home from Edinburgh to Innerleithen and ended her adventure.

So can you have a Scottish mountain bike adventure by train? Yes, yes you can. Inspired - read Aoife's lowdown and check out our Ride Guides for destinations across Scotland and get planning!

Thank you!

A massive thank you to everyone who helped out with this trip. Jamie from ScotRail, who saved us from going mad. Jen and Alan who rode with Aoife at Glentress. Andrew and the team at Comrie Croft who were ace. Sally, and her Mum, at Aviemore bikes for being awesome. Scott from Ravenscraig, who is a legend. Iain who rode with our Ruari and Aoife at Nevis Range. Nevis Range for helping on shoot day. Pete and Andrew for the snaps and most of all to Aoife for getting stuck in and having a blast!

Read Aoife's tale of here adventure - here in her MBR article.
Click here!


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