Booked a long weekend off work? Head to one of the UK’s riding hotspots
Coniston, Lake District
Coniston is the perfect base for a long weekender — relatively devoid of people, with a lake to ride around and some obscenely good natural singletrack in the vicinity
Day 1: Around Coniston: From town (Landranger 98/SD301975), head SW up the Walna Scar Road for 3km then SE on a grassy BW to Torver. Take the A593 south for 1km,
then take a lane and then trail SW to woodland. Turn E then S at Green Moor, then E and SE to Blawith.
Turn L, then jink R and then L to High Nibthwaite. Now climb NE, keeping straight ahead at Low Parkamoor and continuing into the forest, where you descend from Lawson Park to Brantwood to finish.
Day 2: Get yourself to Torver again and enjoy a loop around the Dunnerdale Fells, linking with the pub at Seathwaite if you fancy.
Day 3: Grizedale: hit the trail centre or mix in some natural stuff too.
Guidebook: Lake District Mountain Bike Routes by Tom Hutton
Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons
Wedged between the Beacons and the Black Mountains, and surrounded by great pubs, Crickhowell is about as good as it gets for natural riding
Day 1: Grwyne Fechan Classic: From town (Landranger 161/SO219184), take lanes north for nearly 10km to Hermitage. Continue NW, climbing all the time, to Bwlch Trumau, then descend NW to the road. Flick N then W to Castell Dinas and head N on trail then lane, past Ffosrhys.
A steep trail leads E over Y Das, then drops to the road at Blaen-y-cwm. Head S for 2km then follow fire roads W then S to emerge on Disgwlfa. Brilliant singletrack heads SW to Henbant, where permissive BW drops to the road. Lanes and tracks lead W to Llanbedr, where you rejoin your outward leg.
Day 2: Head to Talybont-on-Usk and ride the infamous Gap.
Day 3: Pay a visit to BikePark Wales or the Black Mountains Cycle Centre, or run down the canal to Gilwern and clamber up over the Blorenge.
Guidebook: Wales Mountain Biking by Tom Hutton
Hope, Peak District
Easy to get to and brilliant; it’s no wonder the Peak is popular. There are a few good bases, but Hope has good cafes, pubs and riding
Day 1: A loop of Ladybower. Start at the cafe (Landranger 110/SK171835), follow the A6187 to Castleton and stay R to follow the broken Mam Tor Road then proper roads up onto Mam Tor’s ridge. NE to Hollins Cross and descend to Nether Booth.
At Clough Farm take the BW to Crookstone Barn. Then NW and NE to the road, and NE and SE to Hagg Farm. N then S to Fairholmes, then S on the E shore of the reservoir. Climb E to Derwent Edge, S to Whinstone Lee Tor, then E again to Cutthroat Bridge, and SW to the road. S for 1km, cross the dam, then S on cycle track and lanes to Thornhill. From here it’s all lanes to Hope.
Day 2: Head W from Mam Tor for the classic Jacob’s Ladder loop.
Day 3: Head to Ladybower again and head N over Cut Gate. Job done.
Guidebook: Dark Peak Mountain Biking by Jon Barton