Enjoy car-free mountain biking
Taking a mountain bike to the trails is easy, right? Stick to our code and you too can enjoy car-free mountain biking.
The railway code
Warning: may contain bitterness and sarcasm.
Watch: Would you risk taking one of these on a train?
Choose your time
Rule number one, never, ever try and take your bike on the train between the hours of 6am and midday, or 2pm and midnight. Those times are reserved for commuters and fare dodgers. The train companies appreciate this may make journeying with your bike hard, but hey, they don’t make the rules. Any suggestion that bikes take up space and cut into their profit margin is absurd.
Boarding the train
Right, now you know where you stand as the most despised of rail passengers it’s time to board. By a strange quirk of physics, people with bikes become invisible when trying to board a train. It’s not that the other passengers are pushing in front as you patiently wait, it’s just they really can’t see you. Mountain bikers, know your place.
If you’re lucky enough to now be inside a train with a section for bikes, welcome aboard. Don’t get too excited though, as the bike bay is really just part of the toilet carriage meaning you’ll have to listen to people do their business for the duration of the trip. Hopefully you won’t mind, at least the constant traffic of people crunching their luggage into your beautiful bike will distract you from the smell.
Upon your arrival
You’ve reached your destination, but leaving a train carriage is harder than leaving earth’s orbit. With unswerving fatalism, people will board the train before you and others can exit. Don’t panic, the muddy frame and gleaming chainring teeth will persuade people to move eventually, and out you’ll pop like the contents of an overflowing train toilet.
Five of the best train rides in Britain
Anyways, enough of that misanthropy above. Blame the current state of Southern Rail for that one!
Here are a few routes where travelling by train makes sense and is well worth the headaches.
The Blorenge, Brecon Beacons
16km (10 miles)
A cracking big-mountain route. From Abergavenny station, head towards town and take cycle path west alongside the Usk, then beneath the A465 to Llanfoist. Take the Community Path that leads W into the Clydach Gorge (Landranger 160/SO286132).
At the Forge car park, follow lanes WSW onto the foot of Gilwern Hill (SO236140). Go S then descend E then S to the Punchbowl. Follow the canal to Llanfoist.
Glen Kinglass, Scotland
57km (35 miles)
A massive expedition that’s best saved for a good day. Take the West Highland Way N from Tyndrum (Landranger 50/NN328306) to Bridge of Orchy and take the road to the western end of Loch Tulla.
Cross Victoria Bridge then follow the path signed to Loch Etive. Cross the bridge at Ardmaddy Bay and head SW to cross Glen Noe and continue through woodland to the A85. Hard R at Taynuilt station, and a train back to Tyndrum.
Pole Bank, Long Mynd
26km (16 miles)
This is a sweet little blast that starts almost at Church Stretton station (Landranger 137/SO455935). Head up High Street and onto the ridge via Carding Mill. Follow tracks SW over Pole Bank and the road to the gliding club.
Drop down Minton Batch, take the road to Hamperley and climb to the Shropshire Way. Now head N to the car park S of Pole Cott and take the footpath (permissive BW) SE over Round Hill and down.
Wendover, Chiltern Hills
Fun singletrack within easy rail reach of London. Form the station (Landranger 165/SP065177), head south east through town and pick up the Icknield Way, which you take all the way to Little Hampden. Lanes lead south to Hampden Bottom, then west to a die-straight track past Hampden House. Back on the Icknield Way north then east to Buckmoorend, where a bridleway then lane lead north to Low Scrubs. A fun descent finishes it off.
Wepham Down, South Downs
12km (14 miles)
Train access to the South Downs isn’t as easy as it looks — the main artery runs S of the hills. But Amberley is well placed and you can run E or W from here.
Head S from the station (Landranger 197/TQ025118) to North Stoke, E onto Camp Hill and S to Wepham. Continue up into Wepham Woods until you reach the lane that leads N over Blackpatch Hill and on to the South Downs Way. Head W.