The Forest of Dean, Dyfi Bike Park, Laggan Wolftrax, BikePark Wales and Sheffield all have new trails to ride
Nothing beats the first time you ride a new mountain bike trail. You might mess up every corner but you’ll get to the bottom buzzing with the latest MTB fix. That’s why we’re always searching for the latest and greatest new spots to hit up, so we’ve made it easy for you: Here are our fave new (old) riding destinations in the UK that have something going on in 2023.
Want more? Check out our best mountain bike routes.
1. Adit at the Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean boasts one of the best blue-graded trails anywhere in the UK, in the shape of the Verderers trail. That’s official too; it came fourth in our Trail of the Year awards back in 2020 behind some seriously fierce competition.
The famously smooth and flowy singletrack was too popular for its own good though, and by the end of 2020 it was looking as rough as the boars that mob the forest. It was a welcome relief when it was revamped in 2021 then, alongside the Launchpad and Countdown trails and with the help of funding from Forestry England and donations and hard work from the Dean Trail Volunteers (or DTV).
Six miles of hand-built heaven sculpted by the Dean Trail Volunteers
Now there’s something completely new to try though; the red-graded Adit – six miles of hand-built heaven sculpted by the Dean Trail Volunteers (them again).
“It’s been a labour of love, sweat and tears that has taken a long time to plan, working around sensitive areas and building new links and sections to join up the old XC Enduro Trail, originally scratched in by RDFCC (Royal Dean Forest Cycling Club),” explains Alan Grist, of the Dean Trail Volunteers.
Adit is an extension to the Freeminers trail, and you can ride it as a big loop or just cherry pick the new bits if you want.
And the name Adit? DTV says it’s a type of mine entrance-come drainage tunnel that hacks sideways into the hill rather than straight down, and references the rich mining heritage of the Forest of Dean.
Riding the Adit
Ben Smith, MBR’s artist in residence, says:
“The Forest of Dean is jam packed with great enduro and downhill tracks, but the Adit is very much an XC loop. That’s no bad thing, and it doesn’t mean I want to slip into lycra and race laps of it. It’s just great for days when you want to have a proper pedal. You’ll get plenty of that here, that’s for sure, because there are some longer pedally sections linking up the fun bits… but there are plenty of those fun bits too.”
“It’s easy enough to cut down the fire roads to get to the start of the new trail, missing out the old Freeminer’s Trail should you so wish, and you’re straight into twisting berms that set the tone nicely. The trail romps round the forest in a succession of singletrack sections, fire roads and parts of the existing Verderers Trail before the run back to the trail centre begins.”
“The Adit uses many sections of singletrack that have been there for years in some form, and the tight rabbit warren run above Hopewell Colliery will be familiar to many. From there the ribbon unwinds for a few hundred metres before the final plunge downhill on the TNT section, taking in switchback after switchback, and before you know it you’re back at the Pedalabikeaway cafe and shop, stuffing in tea and cake you’ve genuinely earned.”
2. End Game at Rother Valley, Sheffield
Lengendary British downhill racer Steve Peat started his career at Rother Valley, near Sheffield. He joined local club Beighton All Terrain Squad and signed up for the XC race as a junior novice. And of course he went and won it, on a track that careered straight down the rocky fireroad – terrifying on a fully rigid bike from 1990, but probably extremely dull now.
You’ll be pleased to hear then that when you ride at Rother Valley today the old descent is now a climb, and the new stuff going down is worlds away better.
There’s a brand new trail to ride for starters, which is opening as you read this. Called End Game, it’s been designed and built by Sheffield’s own Bike Track, responsible for a host of brilliant pump tracks and skills loops. So it’ll be no surprise to find it’s packed full of flowing features that can be ridden by riders of all abilities.
“This project was focused on creating a mountain bike facility in the park that could be ridden by beginners too,” explains Nick Howarth, the Rother Valley Riders (RVR) chairman. “End game is the last section on a longer trail called Drift Woods, it’s 550m of stunning flow trail, with 43 rollers, berms, tabletops and has a huge grin factor.”
It’s packed full of flowing features that can be ridden by riders of all abilities
Top to bottom that means the combined trail is now 1,000m long, and all told there are now 5km of purpose-built singletrack to ride. Impressively, these trails have all been created over the past 11 years and all (except the latest) have been community dug, funded and maintained. It’s a proper grass-roots success story about one of Britain’s biggest mountain bike clubs that grew from a bunch of mates posting on Facebook.
Success can bring problems though, and Rother was certainly a victim of its own great trails as lockdown brought an overbearing number of riders to the area. “The trails really started to suffer,” Nick says. “It was clear we needed professionally built trails to withstand the traffic. Matt Johnson the club secretary set out trying to find funding.”
“Many months later we agreed a joint venture between the club and Rotherham Council to fund the first professional rebuild of one of our most popular trails, Diggers Downhill.”
The new trail has been built with £55,000 of funding from Well Rotherham, a body funded by Public Health England looking to help local plans to improve their communities along the lines of health and well being.
That kind of money doesn’t go far when sculpting purpose-built, all-weather singletrack though, so RVR added to the new trail. “We went down the crowdfunding route while Bike Track was on site, and in a few weeks we got £2,500, and subsequently shifted about 80 tons of material,” Matt Johnson says. “So it’s weatherproofed and you can ride it all year and not get covered in crap.”
3. Boomslang at Bike Park Wales
BikePark Wales always has something cooking, and the newest little uplifted treat to look out for is called Boomslang, a black-graded tech trail.
It’s already on the trail map but as yet not rideable because bird nesting season interrupted the build. Rest assured though, it’s set to open early 2023.
BPW tells us it’ll be a natural feeling and techie affair, without the big machine works of trails like Vanta or Insufficient Funds, and there will be some steep sections in there.
Not quite so new is Pandora’s Rocks, opened last July. It’s a mix of flow at the top, armoured rocky sections in the woods, and little gaps and doubles here and there.
4. Lagan Wolftrax, Scotland
Lagan Wolftrax is a fearsome beast. The black trail works your body, your bike and your nerves, with fearsome rocky sections, slabs and roots to contend with. Too slow and you won’t make it up the short, punchy rises: too fast and… well, enough said there. Sure, there’s flow here, but you really have to work for it.
Laggan is not a place for new riders then, not until the new blue-graded trail opens this summer, that is. Laggan Forest Trust, which manages the land, now has £100,000 of the £250,000 it needs to build a new blue trail that is currently nameless (Wolfpup, maybe? Answers on a postcard).
The latest news is that the build will start this March and should open in July, according to Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS).
The mandate is to give riders a taste of the red and blue trails, including flowy sections and rock slabs, presumably toned down a little. This bodes well for more experienced riders too then, who can expect a trail worthy of their abilities.
The loop will be split into three sections so you can build the ride to your desired length, and there will be a central trail viewpoint that’ll branch out onto the other trails too.
5. Lovey Dyfi at Dyfi Bike Park
Dan Atherton’s bike park has a new trail too this year, and for once it doesn’t feature 40ft tables and step downs big enough to hide houses in.
Lovey Dyfi is a red graded track, built to be mellow and flowy, and bonkers fast if you want it to be (there we go, knew Dan couldn’t resist making it spicy somehow). We also love how the name provides a serious hint on how to pronounce Dyfi – yes, Dyfi rhymes with lovey.
We won’t say too much more about this as yet, except that it’s supposedly Dan’s favourite trail to ride right now, and that our plan is to head up to North Wales and check out the line ourselves. Watch this space.