Thursday, 28 September 2023
Forest of Ae
One of the UK's largest forests, with something for everyone
Ae Forest is the perfect place to visit, whether you want to relax with a picnic beside the river, watch woodland wildlife, stroll through the trees or burn off some serious energy on horseback or on the superb mountain bike trails.
The waymarked routes include gentle rambles beside the sparkling Water of Ae as well as longer hikes into the hills with wonderful views. Ae Forest covers an area about the size of 10,000 football pitches. Huge numbers of trees are harvested each year for timber, which is used for everything from paper to house building, and thousands of new trees are planted too.There’s a long history of forestry here: Ae village was built by the Forestry Commission in 1947 to house forest workers.
Ae Naze Trail
A trail notice is in effect
The Loop is open but some of it is not fit for wheelchairs, please follow signage on site.
A peaceful, short stroll along the waters of Ae, with a perfect opportunity for a picnic.
Wide and firm track throughout with gentle rises and occasional loose gravel.
Allow ½ hour
Watch for wildlife in the trees!
Water of Ae Riverside Trail
A delightful wander along the restful Water of Ae. As the path weaves beneath soaring Norway spruce trees, watch for wildlife in the trees and burn.
Firm gravel surface throughout. Some loose stones and a couple of short fairly steep ramps. Two cattle grids and one wide bridge. Look out for vehicles on the first section.
Allow 1½ hours
Look for red squirrels in the canopy, and dippers or statuesque herons along the burn. Take advantage of the pretty picnic sites beside the Water of Ae or just cool your feet in its sparkling shallows.
Green Hill Trail (diverted)
A long route along the Water of Ae before climbing the hill. Great views from the top, across to Queensberry Hill and Harestanes Wind Farm.
Long slopes with steep sections on rough, narrow earthy path with exposed tree roots and muddy patches. One section of steps. Watch for vehicles on the first section.
Allow 3½ hours
Craigshields View is one of the best views in the area, taking in rolling farmland and out past Dumfries to the Solway Estuary in the far distance.
Mountain biking trails
There’s also a bike shop/hire on site as well as bike uplift.
Ae Valley Route (diverted)
A great place to try out mountain biking for the first time, and perfect for families, this trail takes you to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Water of Ae. There are sections of easy singletrack and forest road and only one brief sharp climb. You’ll be rewarded with lovely views over the Water of Ae.
Larch View Route (diverted)
Suitable for those families looking to take in a little bit more of the forest. Delve a little deeper into the forest, on this moderate route consisting of forest road and singletrack. Enjoy good views of the Water of Ae coupled with a fun ride.
Ae Line Trail (diverted)
A trail notice is in effect
80% of The Ae Line Trail is open with short diversions. Please follow all signage.
A rocky ride through the countryside. The highlight of the route is the final descent with its multiplicity of jumps. This cross-country trail is peppered with jumps, drop-offs and tabletops that are sure to put a smile on your face. Take the trail slowly if you want a gentler ride, or the more experience mountain biker can tackle some of the big air possibilities.
A downhill run packed with technical features. Each obstacle on The Shredder has an easier alternative so you can choose the best option for you based on your own mountain biking experience. A great ice breaker for newcomers to this discipline of mountain biking.
A downhill challenge with seriously gnarly rocky sections and exhilarating drop-offs to satisfy the most demanding of riders. A steep and rocky start is followed by a highly testing off-camber descent.
Facilities and access
Time for a bite to eat?
You’ll find delicious refreshments at the Ae café on site.
- The cafe is open Friday to Sunday 10am - 4pm, closed Monday to Thursday.
- The bike shop is open 9am - 5pm Friday to Tuesday, closed Wednesday & Thursday.
Assistance dogs are welcome in the café. For our other canine visitors, there’s water available outside. The café has outdoor seating as well.
Car parking information
Payment options: coin or RingGo
The charges to park at Ae are:
- £2 for up to 1 hour
- £3 for up to 3 hours
- £4 for all day
- £14 for minibus or coach all day
Blue badge holders park free. Please display your Blue Badge clearly.
Please park with care and consideration. In particular please park in designated parking areas only and do not block entrances or gates. Nearby car parks with free parking can be found in our local forest list without the £ symbol.
Annual parking passes available:
Available in advance by downloading the application form and emailing to the Regional Office. Please read our Annual Pass terms and conditions (PDF) before applying.
Valid at all Forestry and Land Scotland car parks except Tentsmuir.
Stay the night
Motorhomes and campervans that are self-contained and have their own toilet facilities will be able to stay overnight at the Naze car park at Ae from 1 April – 31 October 2022.
To help plan your stay, please see the details below:
- Height barrier – No
- Motorhome capacity of car park – 8
- Suitable for large vehicles/caravans – No
- Acces notes - Stay the night is only available at the Naze car park, not the car park by the bike shop and cafe. Follow the forest road for around 1/2 mile.
- Parking notes – Car park on slight slope - levelling blocks recommended. Please leave a 4m gap between other motorhomes.
Please visit our Stay the Night page for full details, participating locations, best practice, and terms and conditions of use .
Turn off the A701 at Ae Bridgend, following signs to Forest of Ae. You’ll reach Ae village after about 2 miles (3km). Turn right at the Forest of Ae sign at the crossroads just beyond the village, then follow signs to the car park.
The mountain bike trails start at the Naze car park. To get there, go past the entrance to the main car park and continue along the road for about ½ mile (1km). Take the next left, signposted for 'Ae Valley car park'. There’s also parking for horse boxes here.
DG1 1QB is the nearest postcode.
The nearest station is at Dumfries. There are regular buses between Dumfries and Moffat, stopping at Ae Bridgend and Parkgate, both about 2 miles (3 km) from Ae village. Check Traveline Scotland for details.
Quiet woodland walks next door to Dumfries
Explore this spectacular prehistoric settlement