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Edinburgh's Bikepacking Escape — The Capital Trail

Chris S

Edinburgh's Bikepacking Escape — The Capital Trail

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore

4-7

days

3-5 h

/ day

151 mi

13,150 ft

13,175 ft

Owing its name to Scotland’s capital city from which it starts, the Capital Trail is a 150 mile (245km) circular bikepacking route covering the very best of the Scottish Border trails. It may not be a long route by some bikepacking standards, but it certainly features some challenging sections and many borderlands hill summits!

Choose to ride the whole circuit in one go or in a series of shorter rides or overnighters, as these sections are easily accessible and are well served by both transport and accommodation options, making it a great option for beginner bikepackers in Scotland and experienced riders alike. The route was originally designed to be ridden in two big days with a single overnighter, but here we’ve suggested a four stage trip that can be easily combined.

The Capital Trail passes along the Firth of Forth, over the Lammermuir Hills, following the Southern Upland Way and Borders and Abbey Way, takes in the 7Stanes MTB trails in Glentress and Innerleithen, over the Cross Borders Drove Road and finally the Pentland Hills before returning to the city. These cover everything from wide gravel drovers roads to technical singletrack, hike-a-bike pushes to quiet country lanes.

Although there are no major water crossings on the trail, it will still certainly be best enjoyed in the spring and summer months when the trail is likely to be in better condition - not to mention the weather! Be sure to always have emergency equipment with you, including a survival bag and extra rations, as well as knowing the emergency procedure should the worst happen in a remote area.

The best bike for this route is undoubtedly a mountain bike due to the technical MTB trails at Glentress and some more natural challenges en route. According to the routemaster Markus Stitz, the dream build is a rigid 29-er mountain bike, but of course a hardtail would also be great.

Access to the Capital Trail is very good, starting and ending in Scotland’s capital city. Brunstane local station in Edinburgh is closest to the start and finish at Portobello, although it’s not much further than the main Edinburgh Waverley station by bike. Edinburgh Gateway station has a tram with connections to the international airport of Edinburgh. You can also use the Borders Bus Service (X62) from Peebles and Innerleithen back to Edinburgh, which can take a couple of bikes each.

Check out more about the trail here: bikepackingscotland.com/capitaltrail

For the full official tour, visit: komoot.com/tour/541969673

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The Capital Trail

153 mi

13,200 ft

13,200 ft

Last updated: November 10, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    05:21
    41.4 mi
    7.7 mph
    2,950 ft
    2,400 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Leaving the Portabello district of Edinburgh along the Firth of Forth, take the promenade cycleway for three miles (five kilometers) to start the day’s 41 mile (66km) stage, starting the loop in a clockwise direction. You’ll then turn inland, heading South along the River Esk.

    

    The first highlight along

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    06:28
    36.3 mi
    5.6 mph
    3,575 ft
    3,700 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The second day of the Capital Trail is a 36 mile (58 km) stretch from Lauder to the town of Innerleithen in Tweedledale, covering 3575 feet (1090 meters) of elevation gain. The day starts almost immediately off-road, climbing gently out of Lauder heading South on singletrack and ancient drovers roads

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    04:29
    27.3 mi
    6.1 mph
    3,250 ft
    3,200 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Head back up the hill to Traquair to rejoin the Capital Trail after your night in Innerleithen, to start today’s third stage at 28 miles (45 km). The first eight miles (13 km) is all uphill, so you’ll warm up nicely this morning! The road gives way to unpaved doubletrack on the Southern Upland Way at

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    05:45
    45.7 mi
    8.0 mph
    3,375 ft
    3,900 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The last day of the Capital Trail takes you from Peebles back into Edinburgh via the Pentland Hills, a range of twelve peaks to the South West of the city and a popular rural playground for Edinburgh’s inhabitants. Leaving the lovely town of Peebles behind, start out on the final leg of 46 miles (76km

    by Katherine Moore

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    4
  • Distance
    151 mi
  • Duration
    22:03 h
  • Elevation
    13,150 ft13,175 ft

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Edinburgh's Bikepacking Escape — The Capital Trail

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