Spring highs

Winter’s over and the mountains beckon – it’s time to get wild again. Here are five great route suggestions from us to get you started.

>>> 100 best mountain bike routes

The weather is improving, the days are getting longer and the trails are drying out. Time to escape the forests and the lowland paths and get back into the mountains, where your bike really belongs.

Ben Macdui, Cairngorms

  • 32km/20 Miles
  • Ride Time: 6-8 hours
  • Why ride it? Britain’s 2nd highest peak and awesome riding
  • Where to eat? Head back to Braemar

Britain’s 2nd highest mountain and Britain’s longest realistic descent! From Linn of Dee (Landranger 36/NO862898), head N up Glen Lui and continue N up Glen Derry then NW to climb steeply to Loch Etchachan. Now climb SW then W to Ben Macdui and retrace your steps to NO009997. Pick up a vague path that cuts S through a shallow col and onto the narrow N shoulder of Derry Cairngorm. Follow this S along the ridge (vague and unrideable in places) to Carn Crom, then SE to drop sweetly down to the fords at Derry Lodge. Now retrace your tracks down Glen Lui to finish.

Pont Scethin, Snowdonia

  • 25km/14 miles
  • Ride time? 4-5 hours
  • Why ride it? Great views, great technical riding
  • Where to eat? Deflect west to the Ysgethin Arms in Talybont

This is a classic loop any way you tackle it, but from the south, it’s a biggie too. From the picnic area just west of Bontddu (Landranger 124/SH661186) and head W then turn R up a wooded BW and follow to a road. Turn R, climb then drop steeply and turn R to follow a track onto open hillside. At SH638201, turn R to Banc y Fran, and head N over Y Braich to the col, Keep SA down to the bridge then up to the track. Head SW to the road head, SE to Pont Fadog, then SE to Bwlch y Rhiwgyr. Descend E to rejoin your outward track and retrace your way back, enjoying great views.

Dunkery Beacon, Exmoor

  • 38km/24 Miles
  • Ride Time: 5 hours
  • Why ride it? Great riding, great views and a big hill
  • Where to eat? Loads of choice in Minehead or divert to Horner for cafe.

OK, not exactly a mountain, but still high, and as close as you’re going to get in these parts. From Minehead (Landranger181/SS969471), take the South West Coast Path W and at Selworthy, drop S around switchbacks to Lynch. Follow lanes and BW S to Horner, and continue N then NW around Crawter Hill. Loop around Ley Hill on a BW and continue through Horner Wood to Horner Water. Climb to Stoke Pero, turn L to a t-junction then R to climb to a junction, where you turn L onto a BW that climbs E to the summit. Continue NE to Brockwell, turn R to Wootton Courtenay and at Ranscombe, take forest tracks to the trig point. Now followFollow BWs N back to Minehead.

High Street, Lake District

  • 35km/22 Miles
  • Ride time: 5-6 hours
  • Why ride it? Big mountain feel and a wonderful, long descent
  • Where to eat? Helvellyn Country Kitchen, Glenridding

This is a big day out, with some marvellous high-level riding. Start at Brothers Water (Landranger 90/NY402134), head SE through Hartsop towards Hayeswater then hike a bike E up to the Knott. Head S to High Street, then back N to Loadpot Hill. Keep L to keep this your right and drop to the Cockpit, where you turn L to drop to Martindale. At Sandwick take the trail W to follow the shores of Ullswater (best at quiet times) to Rooking then Patterdale. Head S to finish.

Great Pinseat, Yorkshire Dales

  • 29km, 19 Miles
  • Ride time? 4 hours
  • Why ride it? Some great scenery, some great riding and some big hills
  • Where to eat? Dales Bike Centre for some of the best cake on earth.

There are higher points in the Dales, but not with quite so much awesome riding around them. Start at the wonderful Dales Bike Centre (Landranger 98/SE046988) and clamber N to Fremington Edge and on to Hurst. Head W and lap up some fine downhill to Langthwaite. Follow the Road SE for 1.5km, then take the BW W to the road. Head S then another BW leads NW to GReat Pinseat. Descend W to Hard Level Gill, then SE to follow it. Take the road N for 1.3km, to briefly join your outward route. Then head SE on BWs that lead through Healaugh to the B6270. Follow this E to finish.