Glentress Forest Visitor Guide

By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents


Summary

Glentress Forest is located near the town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders. The forest is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland who have integrated it into the highly-rated 7Stanes mountain biking trails that offer exciting routes for all skill levels, whether beginner or advanced.

There’s much more to the forest than mountain biking though, and visitors will find something to do whether they enjoy woodland walks, wildlife watching, or getting active on treetop adventure courses.

Find everything you need to know about Glentress Forest in this complete visitor guide.

Address:Glentress Peel,
Peebles,
EH45 8NB
Opening Hours:The Gateway Building is open daily, weekdays from 9am - 5pm and 9am - 6pm at weekends.
The Peel Café is open daily, weekdays from 9am – 5pm (last food orders 4.30) and 9am – 6pm (last food orders 5.30pm) at weekends.
The Alpine Bikes shop is open daily: 9am - 5pm. Bike Hire from 9am - 4pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:£3 for up to 1 hour.
£4 for up to 3 hours.
£6 for all-day.
£24 for minibus or coach all day.
Paying by card is available at Peel and Buzzard's Nest car parks.
Contact:0300 067 6900
enquiries.south@forestryandland.gov.scot
Facilities:Toilets, easy-access facilities, treetop adventure, cafe, wildlife hide, visitor centre, viewpoint, bike hire, shower, picnic area.

The highlights

1: The main highlight of Glentress is – no surprise – the mountain biking trails. As part of the 7Stanes, this forest is one of the UK’s best places to take a mountain bike and there are runs that are suitable for all skill levels, whether beginner or advanced.

2: Glentress Forest is also a great place to go walking and there are several paths away from the mountain bike trails that offer superb views across the Tweed Valley.

Those with an interest in wildlife should keep their eyes open for the ospreys that are part of the Tweed Valley Osprey Project.

3: One activity that sets Glentress apart from the other forests in the area is the excellent Go Ape high ropes and zip line adventure course. The zip line, in particular, is great fun and is the longest in Scotland at an incredible 1,070 feet.

Glentress Forest

Visiting tips

1: The facilities are excellent at Glentress and visitors will find showers, toilets, car parking, bike hire, a bike wash area, a bike shop, and a café.

Considering you can spend all day in the forest it’s advisable to buy an all-day car park ticket as it works out much cheaper than topping up every couple of hours.

The car park machines at Glentress can be paid by coin and by card. There’s also an annual car park pass which can be a great saving for repeat visitors.

2: First-time visitors should take a look at the maps in the visitor centre near the car park to get their bearings.

There are paper maps that show the five walking routes and the six mountain biking trails. If there are no paper maps left, PDFs can be downloaded from the Forestry and Land Scotland website.

3: Glentress gets very busy at the weekend, but there are plenty of other forests in the Tweed Valley Forest Park to enjoy.

Visitors looking for peace and quiet might consider heading to Caberston, Cademuir, or Cardrona forests instead.


Overview

Glentress Forest near Peebles in the Scottish Borders has gained almost legendary status with mountain bikers, not only for the variety of trails on offer but also for the facilities which are (in my opinion at least) the best of all the forests in Tweed Valley Forest Park.

One of the big benefits of this forest park is the fact that it’s located just 30 miles south of Edinburgh, which means you can drive to it from the capital in under an hour, or one hour and 30 minutes from Glasgow.

For those of us that love blasting along forest trails, the 7Stanes are a must-do. These trails span the south of Scotland from the Scottish Borders to Dumfries and Galloway and are graded from green (easy and suitable for beginners) to black (severe and suitable for expert riders only).

Glentress has green, blue, red, and black routes as well as a skills area where riders can practice on graded trails and a freeride park where freestylers can learn new tricks.

Glentress Forest

But it’s not just the mountain bike trails that draw people from far and wide as there are also paths running through the forest that offer good walks up the slopes of nearby Caresman, Makeness, and Fair Hope hills, with difficulty levels ranging from easy to strenuous.

While the walking trails appear to play second fiddle to the bike trails they still offer a good day out, especially the Tower Trail which is the route to follow for wildlife watching.

This rough path winds its way to the top of a 500-metre hill where it passes the remains of an Iron Age settlement before opening up to a viewpoint with magnificent views of the Tweed Valley.

Along the way, visitors are likely to see buzzards soaring overhead as well as the odd fleeting glimpse of roe deer as they forage amongst the mature trees of this remote part of the forest.

Glentress Forest

There’s also a good chance to spot ospreys thanks to the efforts of the Tweed Valley Osprey project which has installed artificial nesting platforms that are monitored by CCTV cameras.

The camera feed is streamed online so if you’d like to check to see if there are any chicks (note you won’t see them in winter as the birds migrate south) you might like to bookmark the osprey webcam on the Forestry Land Scotland website.

Facilities-wise, Glentress Forest has everything you need for a visit whether on two feet or two wheels, with decent (paid) car parking, toilets and showers, mountain bike hire, a bike wash area and a bike shop, disabled facilities (at the Peel Centre), a very good café, wildlife hides, and a picnic area.

There’s also a Go Ape high ropes adventure course that features Scotland’s longest zip line, and horse riders are welcome too.

Suffice to say, whatever your outdoor interests, Glentress has something to offer.

Glentress Forest

Tourist information

More than 300,000 people visit Glentress Forest each year and a lot of thought has gone into making each visit as enjoyable as possible.

The walking trails are good, but it’s the mountain bike trails that are the real attraction which is evident as soon as you enter the car park.

The visitor centre has a large toilet block with male and female changing rooms and showers to clean up after a muddy ride, and there’s even a bike wash area to hose the mud off before hauling the bike back onto the car.

Meanwhile, a nearby café offers hot food in generous portions to refuel bellies after a tough day on the saddle, and a bike shop next door sells every spare part you might need in case you have a mechanical failure.

Glentress Forest

They even hire out mountain bikes, so it’s safe to say every base is covered when it comes to two-wheeled fun at Glentress Forest.

From the visitor centre it’s a short ride to the skills area and the freeride park, or alternatively the lower green route which is the easiest trail in the forest.

The second green route starts from the Buzzard’s Nest car park which is a wee bit harder but has fabulous views of Peebles and the Tweed Valley, or you can head onto the blue route which is much longer at 10 miles and has a variety of mixed twisty-turny sections along with a few fast runs.

As a novice rider myself that’s as far as I’ve been during my visits, but more experienced riders will no doubt prefer the 11-mile red route which is widely regarded as one of the best mountain bike trails in Britain.

There’s also a (gulp) black route that’s a leg-aching 18 miles and features a combination of epic climbs and breakneck-speed descents that stretch around the edges of Glentress Forest.

One thing I’ve noticed on the occasions I’ve been to Glentress is that the trails are frequently opened and closed for repair and maintenance, so if you’re hoping for a complete run on a certain trail it would be worth checking the Forestry and Land Scotland website for updates on the current state of play.

Mountain Bike Forest

Walkers, meanwhile, have a choice of five different trails to choose from, although the first (Ponds Trail) is only half a mile in length and is more of a quick wander than an actual walk.

The other routes start with the Glen Trail at 2 miles, the Time Trail at 2 1/4 miles, the Buzzard’s Nest Trail at 3 miles, and the Tower Trail at nearly 6 miles.

All of these trails are waymarked with coloured posts so it’s pretty much impossible to get lost, but only the Tower Trail heads up the hill to the viewing points which are one of the highlights of a visit to Glentress Forest.

One point to note about the Tower Trail is that it crosses the path of downhill mountain bike runs in a couple of places so you need to keep an eye open for oncoming mountain bikes.

Finally, for those looking to spend more than a day in the forest, Glentress Forest Lodges have glamping pods for rent that are heated, accommodate five people, and have designated BBQ areas. There’s also a reception with a toilet and a shower block, a kitchen, and secure bike storage.

Glentress Forest

Discover more forests in this article: The Best Forests in Scotland.


Tourist map of Scotland

Glentress Peel,
Peebles,
EH45 8NB

Filter by

Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Peebles & Innerleithen – 337 Explorer.

Peebles, Galashiels & Selkirk – 73 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Things to do nearby

GoApe. Address: Falla Brae Car Park, Glentress Forest, Peebles, EH45 8NB. Distance: 0.4 miles. Treetop adventure park with treetop challenges, zip lines, and high ropes courses.

Kailzie Gardens. Address: Kailzie, Peebles, EH45 9HT. Distance: 3.1 miles. 19th-century walled gardens with plantings of unusual shrubs, herbaceous borders, and rose gardens. There are 15 acres of woodland walks, an arboretum, and wildflowers.

St Ronan’s Wells. Address: Wells Brae, Innerleithen, EH44 6RB. Distance: 5 miles. A Victorian spa with a sulphurous spring that supposedly heals many ailments. There is a free museum, garden, and a shop.

John Buchan Story Museum. Address: High St, Peebles, EH45 8AG. Distance: 2.2 miles. A museum that explores the life of Scottish novelist and politician John Buchan.

Tweeddale Museum & Gallery. Address: Chambers Institution, High St, Peebles EH45 8AG. Distance: 2.2 miles. A museum with permanent exhibitions that explore the history, culture, and landscapes of the Scottish Borders.


Frequently asked questions

Where is Glentress Forest?

Glentress Forest is located near the town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders. The centre of Peebles to the Glentress Mountain Bike Trail Centre is 2.4 miles which takes 6 minutes to drive.
Glentress Mountain Bike Trail Centre address: Peebles EH45 8NB.

Can you walk around Glentress?

There are a number of walking trails in Glentress Forest that range from firm and level walks near the café to strenuous hikes into the surrounding hills.

The walking trails are marked by coloured posts: White: Ponds Trail, 0.5 miles. Green: Glen Trail, 2 miles. Blue: Time Trail, 2.25 miles. Red: Buzzard’s Nest Trail, 3 miles. Black: Tower Trail, 5 3/4 miles.

How long is Glentress red?

The Glentress red mountain biking route is 12 miles in length.

Where are all the 7 stanes?

Dalbeattie, near Dumfries.
Forest of Ae, near Dumfries.
Glentress, near Peebles.
Glentrool, in Galloway.
Innerleithen, near Peebles.
Kirroughtree, in Galloway.
Mabie, near Dumfries.
Newcastleton, in the Borders.