By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 14th September 2018

NC500 Mountain Bike Trails

There’s more to the NC500 than just a road, with some fantastic mountain bike trails and some amazing single-track, there is a variety for the most dedicated riders as well as family friendly routes.

We spoke to Lindsey from ShredXS about the Learnie Red Rock mountain bike trails on the Black Isle,  a short detour off the North Coast 500. Watch this space for more mtb trails!


ShredXS; a Scottish business started by two young keen mountain bikers who couldn’t get mountain biking clothes they liked or fitted. ShredXS MTB range is for kids who want the same level of quality and design adults get but just for them. A perfect activity for starting or finishing your NC500 adventure!

Look the part with the ShredXS NC500 cycle jersey on our online shop or their MTB wear (coming soon). Kit the whole family out! You may even wish to hire a bike from Ticket to Ride in Inverness.


Learnie Red Rock Trails – Black Isle (near Inverness)

Just a short 30 minute drive from Inverness, Learnie Red Rock trails fits the bill for both the expert and family rider.

Heading up from the carpark to the “Y” the first warm up loop is to the left, up the Callachy blue which is a pleasant climb through plush woods, bringing you to the top of the Orange and Callachy Blue down. The Callachy down is wonderful blue route; featuring a few tight berms and some great flowing turns as you reach the bottom. With warmer legs it is now time to head up the “Short blue” to the right, taking you to the top of the trails. Across the single track road there is a wonderful view which look towards Fortrose, Fort George and along thee Moray Firth to Inverness.

Learnie View Over Moray Firth (ShredXS MTB gear coming soon to our online shop)

A short connecting blue takes you back down the other side, for the “over the back blue” or the gem of the Learnie Black. The recent trail changes, makes even better allowing riders looking for a more technical challenge, some opportunity for bigger air and generally rootie fun.

For the more genteel and family ride a climb up the “Firth view blue” will bring you to the perfect picnic spot, with views south to Moray, over to Nairn and beyond, an ideal spot to enjoy some boat watching and catch your breath – a well named track.

Jumping back on your bike for a quick descent through the whins and the water feature (even in the driest of summers) will lead you back up another small climb to the Learnie trails. A sprint along the fire road and time to finish off with the Orange, with its banked berms, rollers, drops and rock garden working your way back to the start. With a final pleasant green and you’ll find yourself at the car park.

Now the hardest decision of all, do your drive right to Cromarty and ice-cream at the beach overlooking Cromarty Firth, or left to Rosemarkie, an ice-cream on the beach and view of the Moray Firth? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

If you wish to set up base on the Black Isle – visit the NC500’s interactive map to search for accommodation. For local eateries, find out more about what was historically, the Kitchen garden of the Highlands and take time to explore the Black Isle with some personal highlights from Jessica and Laurence here.

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