Big Country

Big Country Stats

Grade: NG - Variable
Distance: 58Km
Singletrack: wholly on minor roads and forest roads
Estimated Time To Ride The Route: 3.5 - 7 hrs

**Big Country Route: Diversion in place from post 34 to post 39. This will last for 6 months. Between markers 8 and 13 and markers 37-38, there is timber by the roadside. Please take extra care around this area and obey any signage.**

Broaden your horizons!

Providing a day-long ride into the heart of the Galloway hills on a mix of quiet back roads and forest roads. Don’t be misled by the absence of technical singletrack, as this is a challenging day in the saddle, with testing climbs and big descents. Magnificent views of lochs and hills contrast with sheltered woodlands.

Loch Trool to Borgans

Starting at Glentrool Visitor centre, the route heads towards Loch Trool on tarmacked road, before crossing a bridge over the Water of Trool at Caldons, taking you onto forest road. Heading south west, the trail passes several old quarries before joining up with the minor road at Borgan.

Newton Stewart to Talnotry Hill

From Borgan, the road follows the path of the River Cree towards Newton Stewart, then leads back towards the forest. Steady climbing takes you away from civilisation and about 6km after Newton Stewart the tarmac ends and you're back onto forest road. Joining the Old Edinburgh Road, you meet up with the Kirroughtree Black Route at Talnotry Hill, allowing an extension to the ride for those looking for a truly huge and varied day out.

Black Loch, Millfore and Craigencallie - the day's big ascent

After Talnotry hill, the trail takes you past the rushing waters of the Grey Mare's Tail Burn, with a possible detour on foot down stream to see the carved stone heads of 'The Quorum' and the crashing water of the waterfall beyond. Continuing along the road you soon arrive at the Black Loch and the chance to rest a while and ponder on the concept of the cone-shaped tile structure 'The Eye' (it has a spy hole through its base) before tackling the major climb of the day.

The route ascends 200m as it winds round the side of Poultrybuie hill and the flanks of Millfore, then offers a fast and furious descent below the Buckdas of Cairnbaber to Craigencallie.

The heart of the Galloway Hills

From Craigencaillie, easy forest road leads you deep into the heart of the Galloway hills with extensive views over Loch Dee and to Silver Flow to the hills beyond. At Loch Dee the route joins up with the Southern Upland Way for a stretch.

You are now well above your starting point and it’s time to enjoy the long descent back into Glentrool. Pass the head of Loch Trool and rejoin the minor road by Buchan Bridge. Enjoy the views over Loch Trool on your way back to the visitor centre after an epic day out.

The Trails view grading charts

Visitor Comments

Andy Dalgleish
What a fantastic ride. I was camping at the site just down the road in Glentrool (excellent site by the way) and so it made sense to try the big country route. I went out on my own early and was nearly 30 miles in before I saw another soul. No adrenalin here but beautiful scenery and if you’re lucky a fair bit of local wildlife. Make sure you are prepared as you can be a long way from help if you have problems. Well sign posted route all the way around.
So disappointing. Did the first few kilometres and found it awful - all loose gravel for heavy forestry machinery access. Absolutely no fun to ride on up or down. Certainly not for beginners or kids. Description says suitable for all bikes and this is definitely not true. Interesting to note not another cyclist to be seen on this route - I wonder why...
Paul D
Even if you don''t want to do the full thing, ride the northern section between Glentrool and Craigencallie - simply stunning.
Did this ride in mainly snow for my 50 the birthday with best buddy mark, was the best & hardest ride ever but boy was I smiling when we finished the day of in a hot tub
Colin Agnew
Lots of posts about signage - how about - learn to navigate!
Peter Browne
Just did this route yesterday had a great time but as many people have said before the signs are rubbish ! especially the diversion route , the last one to get you back onto the track off the road had fallen down on a ditch , miss this one and you would never get back on track so please PLEASE for all those who travell after me fix it !!!
Go at weekends when no forestry work takes place and ignore all diversions. First time ive tried this route anticlockwise [not been here for 20 years]. preferred it clockwise s it avoids the really tough pull to Bruce's Stone when you have already cycled about 55km. Glen Trool cafe reopened today after refurb.
Epic day out. Beautiful scenery. Signage not great but used my sense of direction in places and got round okay. I found myself as a meal for clegs quite a lot. Aargh!
Great day ride but the diversion signs were poor. Busy main roads in poor weather ahe not good on mountain bikes so we ignored the signs to find that the forest works were minmal, up on the nillside and not a risk compared with the main road traffic. We travel from the midlands to ride off road. Why can"t we pass through the workings with care, no more of a risk than the main road.
Signage signage signage. Please sort it. It's not just glenrool, any time there are diversions no one really thinks about signage. Don't forget we travel fast on a bike, sings need to be big bold and clear. Sort it please.
Great ride btw.
Paul Haynes
Just got back what a trail could do with some single track trail but still an epic ride !!
Purple markers ended at 10 then restarted at 41. Diversion signs not clear (except one at Grey Mares Tails which was turned round) If we had not been local we would of be lost...
Extremely hard going even for a couple of fit riders. Please be aware of lack of mobile phone signal up in the forest.
Having said all that, great day out for the fit.
Sarah and Lee
Came a bike ride, hubby loved it, I thought I was going to die and the midges loved snacking on me. But was a CHALLENGE and enjoyed the views and in particular the sight of the car at the end :-)
raymond miller
good challenge, weather not great at end marker signs not great,will come back better weather.
done route on 8/12/12 weather ok at start closed in at the end a challenge not good marker signs only bad point
Adrian While
Wow - a really challenging ride today, but some of the diversions were a little poorly signposted. However loved it although I'm really tired now. Just over 4 hours of the most challenging ride I have ever done, but the most stunning scenery I have ever seen. Not bad at almost 50.
Started at Callateringshaw centre went round the far side of the loch and met the trail above craigencallie up past loch dee lunch at grentrool and finish back at Clatteringshaw 40mls 4hr 10 mins not bad for two old codgers ( both 59 )
Brilliant, awesome, knackering. Made a special trip to do the big one on Bank Holiday Monday, great sense of acheivement for me at 55 and Robbie at 14.
Completed on 03/05/2012 in 3hrs 45mins. Epic route fantastic weather and awesome views. Nuff said!
Good challenging route, weather closed in at Black Loch though and made the run in quite a slog on the soft track and a strong head wind from Loch Dee. Gladly do it again though. 3hrs on the hybrid.
Tiring - it would be useful if they provided a trail profile for this, so you can see the extent of it. Some big long climbs after 30k, but really enjoyed it. going to bed now ;)
The Doctor
Done it on Fri 13th May, 2hrs 25mins, flat out most of the way, not bad for a road riders first go at offroading - its awsome!!!!!
Cycling Viking
Excellent day out in the quiet, fresh air of the Galloway hills. Well worth the effort required.
Had a great but tiring day doing this in about 5.5 hours. Not as young as we once were. Really enjoyed the view at the Giants Ax head Stane.
excellent route. takes you right into the heart of the galloways. great varied scenery and absolute peace and quiet. some good long climbs and a storming descent that goes on for ever. just under 4 hours. it may not be single track but who cares when you've got scenery like that. as for doing it on a tandem.....that big descent must of been mental : )

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Glentrool Visitor Centre

Winter opening: weekends only 11am - 3.30pm.

For more information please contact: 01671 840302.



Car parking is available at Glentrool Visitor Centre. Parking costs £1 per hour, £2 for up to 3 hours and £3 for all day.

More than 7 people would be classed as a minibus, which is £12 for a day.



New toilet block now open which is located within the visitor centre.

Bike Hire

Kirkcowan Cycles is in Newton Stewart and offers bike sales, repairs, servicing, parts, accessories and cycle hire.

Opening Times

Mon - Sat 8.30am - 5.30pm (Year Round)
Wed late night opening 8.30am - 8.30pm

 Tel: 01671 401529



The Breakpad Bike and Outdoor Shop

Open daily -
10am -

They offer a wide range of demo and hire bikes, bike sales, with a fully equipped workshop for service and repairs on site.  Bike wash facilities are available. 

Call 01671 401303  for more information



Trail Conditions

Current on Thursday 11th February 2016

Please note: Update - Stroan Bridge is open to cars and bikes only. The visitor centre is open as normal (winter opening hours). Access to Glentrool is restricted due to severe weather-damage to Stroan Bridge. We're continuing to work with the local authority to repair and fully re-open the bridge asap. Apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Trails: All open.

Conditions:  Please take extra care when high winds are forecast as this could lead to windblown trees across the trail.

Diversions:  Green Palgowan trail - please use shortcut due to operational tree felling work.

Big Country Route: there is likely to be increased forest operation machinery near Loch Dee due to harvesting in that area. Please follow onsite signage.

More Info: contact Ben, the Ranger, on 0300 067 6800.


Today's Weather

33°F / 1°C

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