Mountain biking has developed a lot over recent years with many improvements on how a mountain bike should handle being seen. This has produced a new standard of wheel size – 27.5in – which has revolutionised trail riding making the ‘trail bike’ the go-to mountain machine. With this in mind, let us take you through the best trail-trashing spots from across the country.
Situated in, yes you guessed it, Surrey – the words ‘challenging’ and ‘trails’ may not be the first thing that spring to mind. However, in this ‘broker-belt’ county lies the Surrey hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty, and home to the finest trail riding this close to London. A fantastic mix of tight, technical trails – and some more open trails – Pitch Hill, Holmbury Hill and Leith Hill which make up the bulk of the Surrey hills offer something for all riding abilities, and will challenge even the most skilled of riders. Many of the trails are named and will be easy to spot due to the large gaggles of riders crowding around the top on a Saturday and Sunday. With no fee to ride, ample parking and phenomenally well serviced with a ‘locally famous’ village shop serving equally as famous cheese twists and a welcoming pub – the Surrey hills is ideal for a weekend getaway on the mountain bike whatever your ability.
Another strategically placed area, Cannock Chase is an authentic trail centre only a short distance from England’s midlands capital – Birmingham. Like the Surrey hills, Cannock Chase is free to ride and boasts two dedicated waymarked mountain bike trails. Both trails have a grading of red, and both provide technical, challenging sections for competent riders that will keep you on your toes and a smile on your face. Both trails, Follow the Dog and The Monkey Trail, combine a mix of fast and flowing singletrack and tight technical sections including rock gardens and jumps that make for an adrenaline fuelled ride.
Total length of trail: 14.19 miles (Follow the Dog – 6.73, The Monkey Trail – 7.46)
The Forest of Dean has long been known in the mountain bike scene and is truly an extensive area filled to the brim with expertly crafted trails graded from blue to black. This means the Forest of Dean suits everyone from those just entering the world of mountain biking to those wanting to hone in their skills on the black runs. A frequent spot for demo days and hosting a plethora of downhill and ‘mini-enduro’ events throughout the year, there is always something going on to get involved in which makes the area such a hub of activity when it comes to mountain biking.
Positioned in an area perfect for trail building, Chicksands Bike Park gives a clue in its name as to its construction. Sandy dirt that compacts well and is great for water drainage is Chicksands real unique selling point and makes it an ideal spot for year round riding. Situated in Bedfordshire, the bike park is also very central meaning getting here for most is within reach, especially for a weekend getaway, and with an abundance of bike-friendly accommodation up for grabs very close-by, staying overnight is no problem. Riding wise, Chicksands Bike Park is on the ‘jumpier’ side of things which means for the more aggressive riders – it’s a year round riding gem. This is not to say that Chicksands Bike Park hasn’t suitable riding for less experienced riders. Thanks to the holistic approach to the build of Chicksands, plenty of trails are easily ridable by the less experienced rider.
Day ticket cost: £5
Annual membership cost: £60 (16 years old or over) £40 (15 years old or under) £120 (family membership – 2 senior and 3 junior).
Glentress is somewhat of a mountain biking hub that combines fantastic riding with outstanding natural beauty situated in the magnificent Tweed valley. With a multitude of trails ranging from green to black, and from more single track orientated trails to severe downhill runs, Glentress is a spot where you can really get lost in your ride.
Cycling is the perfect escape for all the family, and is a great way to keep active and see what beauty the UK has to offer. With the weather warming and summer just around the corner, there is no better time to start planning a family weekend with the bikes.
Somewhat of a southern gem, Swinley Forest is 2600 acre forest packed with outdoor activities, and a network of fantastic trails and fire-roads ideal for day or even weekend outing for all the family. Very well serviced, Swinley Forest offers bike hire, fitness & skills coaching and a workshop with Cytech level mechanics based on the site 7 days a week. With plenty of forest to explore, and professionally sculpted trails aimed at every skill level, Swinley Forest has a lot to offer for all the family.
The simple fact of having to go on a boat to get to the Isle of Wight makes travelling here for a family cycling weekend that bit more exciting. Once the journey has been completed, the combination of plentiful accommodation, quiet trails and pretty landscapes from the sea to the rolling hills in-land, make the Isle of Wight a must-visit location for family trips. With a great mix of on-road and off-road cycling routes, your next family cycling weekend might well be to the Isle of Wight. The Isle can also be cycled around relatively easily too, and the 65 mile round journey can be tackled in a day or two.