Singletrack superlatives

After 20 years of guiding, riding and devising routes for mbr magazine, we asked mountain man Tom Hutton for his five favourite rides.

>>> We’ve got free GPS mtb route files to download from across the UK and beyond

1. Sticks Pass, Helvellyn

20km/12 Miles

Ride time: 4-5 hours
Why ride it? Big mountain route with awesome singletrack descent
Where to eat? The Travellers Rest, Glenridding
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There is so much good riding in the Lakes it’s actually hard to choose just 1 favourite. But I’ll try… From Patterdale (Landranger 90/NY385169) follow the A592 S to Grisedale Bridge then take the lane SW. A track takes over becoming a push that ends at Grisedale Tarn. Now start the trudge NW onto Nethermost Pike and follow the ridge all the way to Helvellyn. Drop N to climb then drop then climb again onto Raise. And drop N again to Sticks Pass. Now thread the singletrack all the way back down to Glenridding and on to Patterdale.

2. The Torridon Lollipop

35km/23 Miles

Ride time: 6-8 hours
Why ride it? World class mountain biking and breath-taking scenery
Where to eat? Torridon Inn
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Torridon has become a bit of a ‘must-do’ in recent years. So is it as good as everyone says? Yes… definitely. This is a big, tough day out – underestimate it at your peril and postpone if there’s any east in the wind. But on the right day, it is awesome, with 2 of the best descents you’ll ever ride. From Annat (Landranger OS24/NG894544) clamber SE over Bealach na Lice and drop slightly before more climbing NE to Bealach Ban then SE to Bealach Coire Grannda. Enjoy a moster descent E and SE to Achnashellac and take the road SW to Coulags. Now climb N back to Bealach na Lice and savour the drop back down to Annat as the sun sets.

3. Big Black Mountain Classic

45km/28 Miles

Ride time: 6-8 hours
Why ride it? Awesome trails, remote scenery
Where to eat? Bear Hotel, Crickhowell
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There are a few classic Brecon Beacons loops, but none that really match this one for a big day out. This really is among the best rides in the country. From Crickhowell (Landranger 161/SO219184), follow lanes N into the Grwyne Fechan Valley then continue over Tal-y-maes bridge to clamber up to Bwlch Trumau. The descent W is a cracker then take lanes N to Rhyd-y-car then a rough track W then N, then more lanes N to SO187332. Now push/carry/gasp E onto Y Das. Descend SE to Blaen-y-cwm and at SO255266, hop onto forest roads that wind up to SO264235. Go W onto open mountainside, then follow singletrack S then SW to Henbant. A permissive BW drops you to the road and tracks lead W across the river to Llanbedr, where you retrace your earlier tracks.

4. Lustleigh to Grimspound, Dartmoor

30km/19 miles

Ride time: 6-8 hours
Why ride it? Challenging granite trails and some great climbs
Where to eat? Ring o’ Bells, North Bovey
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One of the toughest routes here, although nowhere near the longest. Head E from North Bovey (Landranger 191, SX740838) then SE over Hunter’s Tor, where the fun starts. Drop to the gate then head S then W then S then E into Lustleigh. At SX703806, take a BW SW and cross the River Bovey before climbing W into Water. Turn L and L then R at a fork onto Black Hill. A track leads W to Leighon and loops around Greator Rocks to Hound Tor. NW To Jay’s Grave, then W and NW to Grimspound and down to the road. Head N briefly, then loop around Headland Warren to Bennett’s Cross and climb back E to the road on Hookney Tor. Drop NE to Shepely and continue back to North Bovey.

5. Jacob’s Ladder and the Roych, Peak District

22km/13 miles

Ride time: 3-4 hours
Why ride it? Awesome grit stone trails.
Where to eat? Old Nag’s Head, Edale
GPS download:

Dark Peak grit stone riding is definitely something special, and this route demonstrates why. Start at Edale (Landranger 110, SK124853) and climb S then E to Hollin’s Cross. Take the ridge W to the road and jink L then R onto Rushup Edge. When this hits the road again it leads neatly onto the Roych, where a real rocky horror show drops into the clough. Climb out then drop again into Coldwell Clough. Now start the long climb back E, topping out at Edale Cross. From here it’s rough, rocky, steep and awesome to the finish.