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7Stanes Tour: Dalbeattie By Ben Freeman

The intrepid MTB Britain crew (minus myself!) set up a long weekend to hammer some of the 7Stanes routes and see how they stack up against our well worn Welsh trails.

Total distance 7stanes Dabeattie: 18 miles for the main loop.

Dalbeattie is Here There is no visitor centre at Dalbeattie as yet.

Day 2 ' Dalbeattie
The problem with reviews is that you tend to compare each route against something else and also you tend to rate it based on your own preferences. So I'll start by saying that Dalbeattie is good MTB course. However, is it as good as Kirroughtree or Glentress? Like most MTB centres, Dalbeattie has three graded courses, with the main loop being a Red course, 'Hardrock Trail', which has some Black options on it. Uniquely, Dalbeattie has a skills loop, right by the car park, where you can test your riding standard on graded sections before starting one of the routes proper.

To be honest we were a little nervous after Paul's crash & trip to hospital the day before and sat at the top of the first slab, in the skills area, going 'you first'. Then a bunch of 8-12 year olds turned up on 70 Halford specials, with no helmets and in one case, no brakes, and rode down all the slabs. So we followed promptly. The Skills area is an excellent idea and is actually quite fun on its own, there are a few rock pavements, rock steps and awkward slabs which you have to ride up and some steeper slabs for practicing riding down. 

After half an hour messing around we set off on the Red / Black route proper, which starts off with a fire road climb, followed by some sweet single track, 'Moyle Magic'. The sad thing is that there are only actually three short sections of fast single track on the whole ride and one of them is cut out if you do 'The slab'. Sadly, the vast majority of the route is on fire roads or pretty non-descript single track. 

After 'Moyle Magic' you come down to a fire road and pass the unmarked major feature of the route 'The Slab'. There are no photos of it in this article as we missed it and only realised when we got to the bottom that it was part of the route! This was not strange as the signage at Dalbeattie is very poor and we spent a lot of time conferring with other lost groups looking for their route ' e.g. Black route arrows point off up Fire roads in the wrong direction and sections of the Red route are totally unsigned ' so expect to have to double back a fair bit to get back on route.

Anyway, back to the route: 'The Slab' is the test bench granite slab but there are three or four other slabs around the route to also play on and to be honest, riding down a slab is bold but not very exciting ' personally I prefer very fast steep single track and the detour route around the slab is very fast steep, loose single track and to be honest much more fun! The only slight danger is that the single track goes right under the base of the slab and you're travelling about 30mph ' so anyone coming down the slab is going to get wiped out at speed! NB They will be crawling down the slab as there's no real run-off at the base. At the furthest point on the route there are two more small slabs to play on, 'The Terrible Twins', a not particularly difficult pair of slabs where one leads in to the other with a very small flat gravel section in between. After this, a climb followed by another good section of single track, this time with rock pavement sections thrown in for good measure, known as 'Jacob's ladder'.

Then it's back to the car park via some uninspiring single track / fire road. Immediately after the route, we were fairly critical ' it was nowhere near as good as Kirroughtree and there's a distinct lack of fast down hill single track ' probably as it's quite a flat course. It's also quite lacking in technical features ' the Red route is pretty easy and the slabs are a novelty item rather than part of the route.

Summary
Would I go back? ' probably not, there are better routes in Scotland to go to. If you think slabs are the 'Bees knees' then this is the course for you!

For more Information and Trail News see:
Ride The 7Stanes

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