Smooth routes in Wales, Lakes, Yorkshire Dales, Wiltshire and Dartmoor
Smooth singletrack where less bounce means more fun.
Of course it is perfectly possible to ride a hardtail on rough, technical terrain – just like it’s possible to have fun on a full susser on smooth trails – but if you’re looking for some smooth flowy stuff then check out any of these great routes.
1. Back o’ Skiddaw, Lake District
33km (21 miles)
Great scenery, as well as hardtail-friendly trails. From Mosedale (Landranger 90/ NY357322) head N on the road to Calebreck (NY345358), and take the track W. Follow for 6km to Fell Side. Take the road W to Green Head then SW, where it becomes a track to Longlands. Continue SW then S, again on tarmac, to NY249323. Take track SE to the hostel at Skiddaw House. A L turn drops you to a stream and a mix of singletrack, duplex and bog. Head NE then E to finish.
2. Radnor Forest, Mid Wales
23km (14 miles)
Radnor Forest sees less mtb traffic than the Beacons or the Elan Valley, but the scenery is just as dramatic and the trails are fun — the drop from the Great Rhos is perfect when pumped. From the car park (Landranger 148/SO193593) follow the main track NW then N to a X-roads at SO154660. Turn R and head NE then SE through the woods to SN185649. Head SW here, leave the wood before lapping up the drop back into the valley. To finish, retrace your tracks S.
3. Hawkswick Clowder, Yorkshire Dales
19km (12 miles)
This is a fun, non-techie expedition across typical Dales scenery. The climbs are all doable and the downs roll sweetly and are big fun. Start N of Kilnsey (Landranger 98/SD972688), and head S back to the pub, then R to climb W on Mastiles Lane. Continue to Street Gate (SD905656), but don’t go through. Turn R — Arncliffe Cote — and head NE to cross the fell to the road at Hawkswick Cote. Turn R and then R again to finish.
4. Barbury Castle, Wiltshire
18km (11 miles)
A rolling chalk down route that could be extended or shortened. The climbs are easy to spin, and the drops good to pump or cling on for dear life. From Hackpen Hill (Landranger 173/SU128747), follow the Ridgeway S onto Avebury Down. Turn E onto Manton Down. Drop NE to Old Eagle, then head N to the Ridgeway at Barbury Castle. Enjoy the rolling drop through the ancient earthworks and follow the Ridgeway back to the start.
5. Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor
24km (15 miles)
Dartmoor can be intensely rough and rocky, but there are a few places where things smooth out and good times can be had without a big bouncer. This is a classic — wild out, fast on the return. From Princetown (Landranger 191/SX589735) head S to the ruins at Eylesbarrow. Join the road and head W then NW to Burrator. Keep the reservoir to your R. Join the disused railway line that takes you N and around King’s Tor for the return to Princetown.