Lost in the woods

I know this sounds stupid but after a recent incident, where a friend and I ended up miles off a trail at a well-known Welsh Forestry Centre, I wondered if there’s a technique you’d recommend for mtb’ers that are so bad at navigating they can even get lost on waymarked trails?
We’ve changed our names to protect the innocent.
Forest, email

That’s actually a really good question and we’re glad you asked. Firstly, it is possible to get lost on waymarked trails, as you found out. And, without a clue where you are, it’s actually very hard to get yourself back on the right track again. But also, because there are times when things go wrong and someone gets hurt or has a mechanical, and all you want is to find the easiest, least hassle way back to the start.
The answer comes in two parts. Firstly, if you do find yourself off route and lost, the best thing you can do is retrace your tyre tracks until you are back on route again, no matter how far that may be, it’ll almost certainly be better than guessing. But, more importantly, make sure that you’ve always got a trail map with you (they are free and don’t weigh too much) and that you take note of the waymarks as you go round – most sections at most centres are named. That way, you can easily bale if you need to, and you may also be able to help others out too. If you really don’t want to think, then get a GPS and learn how to use it – it doesn’t know the trails but at least it’ll point you back to the start.

Coast to Coast

A small group of us next year will be hitting the big 40, and as keen mountain bikers, we thought we would ‘celebrate’ with a challenge, by completing the Off-Road Coast 2 Coast from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. I read your article some months ago, when the route was featured, and feel this would be a fantastic route to follow. Can you please help me find a detailed map so we don’t get lost too often! And also, do you have any ideas where
we could stay along the way, as we plan on taking five days to complete the challenge.
Love the magazine, keep up the good work.
Mike Thorpe, email

Big 40! There are guys here that are even older than that! You’re right though, the C2C would be a class way of celebrating such a momentous occasion. You could do a lot worse than to get hold of Tim Woodcock’s C2C book (see mbruk.co.uk) and use this as a basis for planning. But, if you fancy putting a bit of work into it yourself, you could consider some of the other trails that cross the area. You could also check out the various walking and cycling C2C guides to get some options on accommodation, and I’d recommend using web, guidebooks, tourist boards etc to book the places. It’s definitely worth telling them what you’re doing to try and gauge whether they’re likely to be helpful when a group of muddy, cold and wet mtb’ers turn up 3 hours later than planned, wanting showers and hot cups of tea. Good luck.

Sea to summit!

Love the mag and been a subscriber for 2 years now. I am going to the south-west coast of France in July, and realised that the Pyrenees are only an hour from where I am staying (great). Are there any reputable bike hire companies in the area that could point me in the right direction for a fun-filled day out on a good hire bike.
I am not too bothered about getting a guide I just need a map and a bike.
Craig Hudson, email

The only company we have any personal knowledge of is Velo Loco (www.veloloco.com) who are on the other side of the Pyrenees but do deliver. However, we reckon that if you go to any of the Ski Stations in the part of the Pyrenees near to where you’re staying, you’ll find good bikes for hire and maps and advice on Trails. All the major resorts have good tourist offices.