Julia Hobson, guide at Endlesstrailsmtb.com, chooses her five favourite UK trails.
Five best places to ride in the UK and chosen by Julia Hobson. Julia runs Endless Trails MTB, which offers guided mountain bike rides and holidays in northern UK and the Alps.
1. Minehead, Somerset
It’s often hard when you live in the north of the UK and have access to so much great mountain riding, to think about heading south. But the area around Minehead in north Devon/Somerset is a place that is well worth a visit. There’s a brilliant long grin-inducing natural singletrack trail that descends from the edge of Exmoor down to Porlock, and plenty of fun locals’ built trails in Dunkery and Horner woods to keep you smiling. Rooty, loamy trails through ancient moss-clad trees in Triscombe Woods will have you whooping with delight, and natural moorland trails across Exmoor that lead to quaint villages and delicious cream teas or cold pints in little pubs are equally appetising. Read and download the route.
2. Hope Valley, Peak District
The fantastic mountain biking in the Hope Valley is no secret, but it can often feel pretty crowded on summer weekends. Despite being the UK’s busiest national park, it’s still possible to find places that feel wild and remote, and the Cut Gate Path is my favourite escape. Taking you away from the busy lake shores of the Derwent reservoir up onto bleak moorland where you’ll see more grouse than people, and feel far away from everything. The trail has seen some recent repairs to its notorious ‘Bog of Doom’ thanks to funding from the BMC Mend our Mountains campaign and input from various local outdoor groups including Ride Sheffield and Peak District MTB, but it’s still one that’s best ridden in the summer, or after a spell of dry weather, when you can enjoy the fantastic rocky, natural riding at its best. Read and download the route.
3. North West Highlands, Scotland
Most riders have heard of Torridon, but relatively few are aware of just how much other great natural trail riding the north-west Highlands have to offer. Think big days out in remote terrain, likely involving some hike-a- bike to earn your rewards in the form of mind-blowingly good singletrack descents. Smooth granite slabs, old mountain trails and stalker’s paths criss-cross the epic landscapes, and you are more likely to see golden eagles than other riders. It’s a huge area to explore, and Scotland’s progressive access laws allow you to ride almost anywhere responsibly – but remember, not all trails on a map are fun or even rideable. One which is brilliant is an out-and-back on Skye from Sligachan Bridge to Camasunary Bay. You’ll leave the hordes of tourists taking selfies within a few minutes, and then enjoy sublime rocky singletrack through a spectacular glen all the way to the sea. Read and download the route.
4. Ullswater, Lake District
This area is home to Helvellyn, England’s highest legally rideable mountain, which is conveniently criss- crossed by a network of bridleways, offering a multitude of ways to get up and down this magnificent fell. Tough climbs and steep, loose, rocky descents make it a favourite of riders who love natural, all-mountain terrain. But the area has much more too. From technical singletrack trails on the shores of Ullswater, to big XC rides over High Street and Boredale Hause, and fun flowing descents from Askham Fell at the northern end of the lake. There’s something for everyone here and all it’s surrounded by some of the Lake District’s most stunning scenery. Read and download the route.
5. Cairngorms, Scotland
The Cairngorm National Park is the highest upland area in the British Isles, claiming four of the five tallest peaks in the UK. The huge expanse of Highland scenery is also blessed with some incredible singletrack weaving through the towering hills, vast forests and deep glens. Some of the longest vertical descents in the UK can be found here, and when you arrive buzzing with adrenaline at the bottom, you’ll find villages and towns packed with cosy cafes, bars and hotels with roaring fires and whisky to toast a brilliant day out. The Cairngorms loop is a brilliant way to explore the area on a multi-day bikepacking trip, or join a guided tour to find the best singletrack secrets. There’s also plenty of fun woodland trails crafted by locals throughout the whole area, some of my favourites being in the Deeside towns of Ballater and Aboyne.