Rock 'n' roll with these challenging British trails

Here’s an article for those of you that are bored of groomed trail centres and gentle bridle ways. These five rock-strewn, hardcore routes should prove more then enough of a challenge for any mountain biker. You get massive bragging rights for completing these rocky British trails as well.

Snowdon, North Wales

18km (11 miles)

Wales’s tallest is also its rockiest, and this route is solid from bottom to top and most of the way down the other side. It’s techy, twisty in places and full-on steep in others. But it’s also one of the best rides you’ll ever do.

Start in Llanberis (Landranger 115, SH578600) and follow lanes south to clamber steeply up to the trailhead. Now push, carry and sweat your way to the summit. Drop back to the huge finger stone and break left across the railway to descend halfway down the Ranger Path, featured in our  20 best trails in the UK. Now climb north to Bwlch Maesgwm and it’s an all-out blast down Telegraph Valley to finish.

NOTE: There is a voluntary restriction on cycling on the Snowdon bridleways between 10am and 5pm from May 1-September 30. Continued access depends upon this, so please observe.

Rhyd Ddu, Snowdon, GPS route download

Pack your head for heights on Rhyd Ddu! (Crossman-Emms)

GPS download

Jacob’s Ladder and the Roych, Peak District

A classic year-round Peak loop that’ll test suspension, tyres and bottle. Start at Edale (Landranger 110, SK124853) and climb south then east to Hollins Cross. Follow the ridge west to the road and jink to get onto Rushup Edge.

This leads to the Roych and a real rocky plummet into the clough. Climb out then drop into Coldwell Clough, where you start the long climb back east to Edale Cross. From here it’s rough, rocky and steep to the finish — does life get any better?

Peak District trails like Jacob’s ladder are great all year round

GPS download

Ciaran Path, Scottish Highlands

22km (13 miles)

Short and extremely sharp, the Ciaran Path has always been a firm favourite at mbr towers.

From the car park in Kinlochleven (Landranger 41, NN187619), take the West Highland Way north-east, then the old military road west to Mamore Lodge.

Stay with this to Loch Eilde Mor and break right to the power lines then head south then west, almost to the dam at Blackwater Reservoir. Hang a right here and enjoy a rough ride all the way back down.


Stob Ban, Highlands, GPS route download

The Highlands are always guaranteed to produce a tech challenge

GPS download

Borrowdale Bash

27km (17miles)

It’s fair to say that most Lake District trails are rocky, but for a quick fix, try the classic Borrowdale Bash, as it’s known. Start in Keswick (Landranger 90, NY265231) and warm up on the road that heads south to Watendlath.

The rocky stuff starts here with an up and over to Rosthwaite, where you start to winch your way up the Honister Pass. More rock and rubble then takes you north to Grange and a continuation carries you around Catbells to the finish.


The Lakes never fail to be barren or beautiful

GPS download

The Nutcrackers, Dartmoor

10km (6 miles)

A rocky trail with a difference: huge lumps of granite scattered randomly around top-notch moorland and forest singletrack — you need to ride it to get the idea.

Head east from North Bovey (Landranger 191, SX740838) then south- east up to Hunter’s Tor, where the fun starts. Drop to the gate and turn right then head west from the fingerpost. Now enjoy more of the same until you’re back on the road — use the blacktop to finish, or head onto the moor for more.

>>> Not hard enough? Try our Dartmoor killer loop

exmoor feat

Don’t be fooled by the name with this one

GPS download

Need some help tackling tough trails? This should help


Have you conquered any of these geological monsters? Got any other rocky horrors you think we should try?