Times to hit the trails

While most of the population is indoors for the World Cup this month, take 90 mins to hit the trails that are usually too busy to ride.

England football World Cup dates and times

  • Monday 18th 19:00
  • Sunday 24th 13:00
  • Thursday 28th 19:00

Forget football… Go riding instead. No one’s happy when trails are busy. Even if everyone’s polite and friendly to each other it’s still a case of everyone interrupting each other’s day out.

These five routes are often a bit of a ‘mare to bother with on a busy weekend but pick your time well – after hours, midweek or when a major sporting event is on – and you’ll be laughing.

Here are the five great routes that are only worth doing if it’s quiet…

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1. Ullswater, Lake District

20km (12 miles)

The rocky trail that runs along the E shore of Ullswater has always been a tester, although it has been sterilised a little in recent years. But it’s always so busy. This is your chance! Start at Brother’s Water (Landranger 90/NY402134) and take the lane E towards Hartsop then the BW N all the way into Boredale Hause. Descend SE then NE to Dale Head and head N then E to Sandwick. Hook up with the lakeside BW and follow it round to Rooking to finish.

GPS download: po.st/Ullswater

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2. Roseberry Topping, North York Moors

15km(9.5 miles)

Roseberry Topping’s conical peak is a North York Moors landmark. It gets busy, and while there’s no right of way to the very summit, the tracks and trails that nudge up against it are superb and well worth a visit when it’s quiet. From Hutton Gate Visitor Centre (Landranger 93/NZ584154), follow BWs SE to loop around Hutton Village on forest tracks, then head NE to get on the BW that leads SE to Sleddale. Now go SW to the road and NW to the forest edge. Head W onto Roseberry Common and climb as far as you want before taking the BW NW through the wood to finish.

GPS download: po.st/Roseberry

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3. Tarr Steps, Exmoor

30km (19 miles)

The riverside trails up on Exmoor are incredibly popular. They are also great to ride. This is a fine opportunity to enjoy some top-notch rooty singletrack without interruptions. Start in Winsford (Landranger 181/SS906349) and take road then track SW to the River Barle. SE to the road and W to Parsonage Farm, where you head N, then BW W, then BW NE around Withypool Hill to Withypool. Take the road E to Comer Cross and then road and BW to Exford. Take the road E to Stone, and then road and BW to Lyncombe, where you drop to the River Exe, which you follow back to Winsford.

GPS download: po.st/TarrSteps

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4. Cadair Idris, Snowdonia

16km (10 miles)

Snowdon’s little sister is a lot further south than the ever-popular monolith, but it’s still almost as busy — a perfect place to be when everyone’s glued to the box. It’s a straightforward up and down, starting at Llanfihangel-y-Pennant (Landranger 124/SH671088), and climbing N on mainly good surfaces to Haffoty Gwastadfryn. Grassy singletrack continues NE from here into a broad saddle above the mountain’s northern escarpment and from here, it’s steep and techie to the top. Hard work on the way up — awesome on the way down (a simple reverse of the climb).

GPS download: po.st/Cadir

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5. Corfe & Old Harry, Dorset

22km (13 miles)

GPS download: po.st/Corfe

The downs that lie between the atmospheric ruins of Corfe Castle and Studland are among the most scenic in the country and a big tourist draw. Start at Corfe (Landranger 195/SY963821) and follow the Underhill Path E to the road. Head N to gain the BW onto Ballard Down, then loop around the headland, say hi to Old Harry, and drop to Studland. Take the BW W over Godlingstone Heath and then drop to rejoin your outward track. This time climb onto Nine Barrow Down and follow it W to finish.