The Capital Trail


‘I loved the varied terrain; great distance; huge ascent; ease of re-supply; simple-no fuss, friendly small numbers and I needed to navigate!’

‘It’s an absolutely superb route’

‘Comprehensive and varied terrain. Great mix. Need some good legs!’

‘Besides the pure constant stimulation of the very varied trails selected, was the constant anxious feeling that you might miss your next turn down the next tasty trail! I liked this, it really kept you on your toes!’

Voted by as ‘Best New Trail‘ in 2015, the Capital Trail is the perfect challenge for advanced and expert mountain bikers wanting to explore the amazing trails around Edinburgh. It can be ridden as individual time trial or as part of the annual group start.

With ca. 6000m of climbing the Capital Trail is a real challenge, but offers you an amazing variety of singletrack, Land Rover tracks, forest roads and quite country lanes. In short, it is the very best Scotland’s South has got to offer, with most of the trails ridable in dry conditions. The route starts and finishes at The Tide Cafe on Portobello Beach and features the beautiful Firth of Forth coastline, the River Esk, Carberry Hill, the Winton Estate and the Pencaitland Railway Path, Saltoun Big Woods, the quiet and scenic country lanes of East Lothian, Lammer Law, the Southern Upland Way, Thirlestane Castle, Melrose Abbey, the River Tweed, the Borders Abbey Way, Lindean Loch, Selkirk, the Three Brethren, the 7Stanes trails at Innerleithen and Peebles, Kirkhope Law, the Cross Borders Drove Road, the Meldons and Pentland Hills. And to finish, the Capital Trail will offer you some views of Edinburgh you might have not experienced before. Surprise yourself!

Although the route doesn’t venture far from the city, the Capital Trail takes you through some very remote, but beautiful places. The route is designed to be ridden clockwise in two days with an overnight stop. There are plenty of good opportunities to sleep under the stars, in a bothy and/or in bunkhouses, B&Bs and hotels. And the odd pub. Please make sure you respect the landowner’s properties, shut all gates, don’t leave any rubbish and leave all livestock and wildlife undisturbed.

Be aware, the weather here can change on a whim, and you are likely find yourself besieged by cold lashing rain and high winds even in Summer. Don’t attempt this ride unprepared, approach this ride as an independent expedition, fully prepared for your own limitations and whatever nature may have in store for you. The rewards for that will be plenty.

Useful Links
Capital Trail Finishing Times
2017 Group Start Pictures Set 1
2017 Group Start Pictures Set 2
2016 Group Start Pictures
2015 Group Start Pictures Set 1
2015 Group Start Pictures Set 2
Pictures from the route

Here’s the 2017 route as GPX file.