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7Stanes Tour: Kirroughtree 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 Kirroughtree: 29Km loop ridden.

Opening Times for Visitor Centre/Cafe
27 September-31October: 7 days a week, 10:30-16:30 hours.
1 November-12 December: Sat/Sun, 11:00-16:00 hours

Day 1 ' Kirroughtree
The hotel owner asked us where we were going today and when we replied Kirroughtree, she mentioned that it may not be one of the best courses and that she'd heard the others were better ' but still we fancied not having to drive as Kirroughtree is only a 10 minute ride down the road from our Hotel in Newton Stuart. Anyway, within 15 minutes we knew she had been miss-informed and within a few hours we were amazed at having found one of the best MTB courses in the UK. I won't beat about the bush, Kirroughtree is simply fantastic ' one of the best man made trails ever created.

There are three courses, Blue (Moderate), Red (Difficult) and Black (Severe). To put these in context, the Red course is just slightly more technical in places than the Karrimor at Coed-y-Brenin (but much shorter) and as fast as the Dyfi Forest Cli-machx trail. The Black route is more technical than any of the Welsh man made courses and the technical sections are slightly trials orientated i.e. if you come barreling into them at full pelt first time round, you'll crash and probably end up in hospital. You need to inspect them first to work out your line / speed and then ride them with care.

The Red course, 'The Twister' is 14 km long and very neatly joins up with the Black route 'Black Craigs' to form a 29 km ride. We did the 29 km combined loop. First off the surface is amazing. They only had loose earth and granite, so they imported black shale which makes for a fantastic fast draining all weather surface with oodles of grip. This gives a high degree of confidence and really lets you go into the bends flat out. Unlike the Welsh trails, most fast bends have berms and are sweeping so you can carry all your speed through the corner.


On the red route they have the occasional Black option, with a Chicken run next to it. This allows individuals to pick the route they feel best suited for. This is a typical Black option for those wanting a bit of a challenge. At the furthest point on the Red route, the Black route starts and after a long climb and some good single track you come to 'McMoab'.

McMoab is a granite slab 150m long and 25m wide with a route marked out over it in blue arrows. The Single diamond and Skull & cross bones denote that this is a technical trials section and should be ridden with care. As always there is a well made escape route to let you go past the slab.

McMoab is not very difficult but in places you are quite high up and near the edge, so not the place for 'SPD jitters'. It's highlight is the final descent from its spine: (see the Blue arrow showing the way). Most riders found this too easy and attempted steeper descents ' including Paul who flipped over the bars and bruised most of his body ' Granite does not make for a soft landing.

After McMoab there is another climb and then an excellent high speed single track descent, with 2' drop-offs aplenty. The final Black diamond section, 'Hissing Sid', which is a rock staircase turning a sharp bend, took a few attempts to get right and unfortunately flipped Paul over the bars and into the local A&E unit with 7 stitches! It turned out that his fork had no air in it and was bottoming out, flipping him off. 

After Hissing Sid, you rejoin the Red Route for an excellent high speed single track descent (with banked turns) back to the centre.

Summary
If we'd only done the Red route I'd still have had an excellent day and would go back. The red route flows beautifully and is very fast in places, with enough technical bits to keep your interest up. The Black route has some equally fast single track descents where you can push your limits, combined with trials based technical sections to learn new skills. The Red/Black combined route is simply 1st class. I will definitely be going back!

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

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