Glorious Glentrool gravel

Forest roads wound for miles across the hillsides – built for logging lorries but ideal for our needs. We'd found the perfect place for some family cycling.

A child rides their bike on a winding trail through a pine forest, their green coat billowing behind them.

After settling into our little white cottage, we rode the path from the village down to the visitors’ centre. Off-road riding almost from the door. This was how things should be, this was going to be a good holiday.

The path would be the starting point for many of our adventures during our ten days in Glentrool. Winding through the trees, it can’t have been more than a kilometre or so. And the road it bypassed wasn’t exactly busy. But what the path represented was important.

A view of a loch from above, surrounded by green trees and brown grassland

It was the gateway to the trails beyond – miles of riding of the kind we can’t find at home. More than this, the fact this path existed showed that someone had thought about the needs of people who walk or cycle, not just those who drive.

The path made us think this would our kind of place, and the trails beyond confirmed it. Not just the purpose-built mountain bike trails. Forest roads wound for miles across the hillsides – built for logging lorries but ideal for our needs. Scottish access laws meant that we could also ride the well-surfaced path around the loch, which formed part of the Southern Upland Way.

A child speeds along a grey forest road on their bike, their orange coat flapping brightly against the dark green conifer trees beyond

We soon fell into an easy rhythm on the days when we planned to ride, tracing a route on the map over breakfast before heading out late morning to explore. With such quick access to the trails, we didn't have to rush out.

We didn't rush anywhere, in fact – covering big distances (by eight-year-old child standards) at a leisurely pace. Hills were climbed, views were enjoyed, picnics were eaten, and long descents savoured. When we arrived back at the cottage, there was always plenty of time to relax and reflect on the ride.

A fast-flowing river runs towards the camera, rocks across its channel and trees on either side.

Our days of carefree cycling were interspersed with walks, trips to the beach and some stargazing. Eventually, though, it was time to head home. Leaving routes unexplored and hills unclimbed was hard, but we’ll be back.

See you soon, Glentrool.