NB Forthcoming temporary diversion
A diversion is imminent to South of Scotland Countryside Trails as they go through Ae forest, this is necessary because of construction works associated with Harestanes Wind farm.
A linear route through Ae Forest for horse-riders, cyclists and walkers was developed as the western arm of the 350km South of Scotland Countryside Trails (SoSCT) network, linking Dumfries & Galloway with the Borders. The trail starts at Ae, which is easily accessed off the A701 north-east of Dumfries, and links through to Beattock and Moffat. The track is stone surfaced and of varying gradient and able to withstand use at any time of year.
There are many other tracks linking up with the linear SoSCT route, which can form circular routes of different lengths. Please note that any linking tracks are not way marked.
Ae Forest is at the heart of the Seven Stanes mountain bike trails, so this is the ideal place to come with friends, family or a partner keen to go off and explore on their bike while you head off on your horse.
Finding your way
You can download a map of the Ae Riding route from the BHS EMAGIN website. The link will take you to the Scottish section of the "Routes by Region" page. Look down the list for the Ae Forest ride, which will take you to a street mapping scale view of the route. You can access a 1:2,500 scale OS map of the route which maps the route in detail by changing the scale on the horizontal menu bar. Note that the street mapping scale currently shows only individual routes, but you can use the cursor to track in any direction at 1,2500 scale to identify linking routes.
The Ae Riding route is clearly way marked throughout on the ground, and is easy to follow – just look out for the SoSCT discs. Although the mapped route is linear, there are many other forest tracks and rides which you can combine with the formally promoted SoSCT route to create your own circular routes of different lengths. Other linking paths and tracks may be waymarked as part of the Seven Stanes mountain bike routes, or as walking routes, but only the linear Ae Forest to Beattock route is waymarked as part of the SoSCT network.
Larger scale maps should be used to follow routes on the ground, such as OS Landranger Maps 1:50,000 no. 78 (Nithsdale and Annandale) and Pathfinders 1:25,000 no. 495 (Moffat), no. 505 (Thornhill), no. 506 (St Ann’s and Boreland) and no. 517 (Dunscore and Ae).
There is ample parking provision for trailers and horseboxes at Ae, and at the eastern end of the route where it exits the forest above Beattock just east of Kinnelhead, but please note that the Crooked Road which leads up to the latter is single track in places and some horse boxes may struggle with the gradient.
Watch out for...
Be aware that in parts of Ae Forest you may meet mountain bikers, and as you pass through Ae Forest, remember that this is a working forest. Where felling or other forestry operations are underway, any necessary diversions will be clearly signed. Please respect warning signs and keep clear of machinery or stacked timber.
From Beattock you can continue east along the SOSCT network to Eskdalemuir, where you might like to visit the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery. For further details of this route, click here. Please note that there is a short steep section between Moffat and Eskdalemuir on this route. You may want to lead your horse up and down this section.
From Eskdalemuir, the SOSCT network links to the old Roman Road through Craik Forest and then on to Hawick, where it links with the Hawick Circular Riding Route and Buccleuch Country Rides.
More about the route
Ae Forest offers a network of forest tracks and minor roads for horse-riders, cyclists and walkers of all ages and abilities to enjoy throughout the year. The forests are managed for timber production, recreation and conservation. Birds of prey such as short-eared owl, buzzard and goshawk regularly nest and hunt in the forest.
The views along the Ae Forest Route are forever changing. As you start to climb uphill with your horse away from Ae look south to the Solway Firth and Criffel. On a clear day you see as far as the Lake District hills. As you follow the riding trail further north Queensberry and Wee Queensberry come into view and dominate the skyline. Further north still to Earshaig the Southern Upland and Moffat Hills form a backdrop to the narrow Crooked Road winding its way down to Beattock.