More staff picks from The Trailfinder General
Last week I shared my favourite components. This week I’m sharing with you where’s best to take those components. Here’s my favourite places to ride.
1. The All-Weather Classic: Ambleside, Lake District
The Lake District can be a nightmare if you visit it in summer. Traffic jams. Nowhere to park. Trails stuffed with people. It’s not fun a lot of the time. The secret to the Lakes is to go there in Winter. And do the classic weather-proof Ambleside route detailed in the link below.
2. Worth The Epic Drive: Applecross, Scotland
Driving 13 hours to ride 13 kilometres sounds like total insanity. But what a 13 kilometres they are! Obviously you can do other riding and other activities while you’re in this amazing part of the world but this out-and-back route is a proper bucket lister.
3. Old Skool Trail Centre: Gwydyr Forest, North Wales
AKA Betws-y-Coed. One of the very first trial centres to pop up in the UK, I have a real soft spot for Betws-y-Coed. The tree-infested rocky topography of this part of North Wales makes for excellent mountain biking. The recent trail additions and renovations have reinvigorated this forest playground and more folk should give it (another) go.
4. Welsh Mountain: Cadair Idris
I’ve not chosen Snowdon for a number of reasons – principally because I’ve ridden it too often! But the reason for listing Cadair Idris here is not just to be contrary. It’s an excellent day out. It’s much, much quieter. The views are better. The trails have more flow to them on the lower reaches (don’t go down on the fireroad, get in the fern-edged bridleway).
5. Singletrack Gold: Eastridge, Shropshire
One secret of British mountain biking is that Shropshire is the best place to live for biking in England. You can keep your busy Lakes District and your soggy Peak District, Shropshire is where it’s at. Nowhere best exemplifies this than Eastridge. A trail centre that actually allows soil and dirt. It’s not a pavement through the woods. The trails created and curated by the county’s peerless MTB community.
6. English Mountain: Helvellyn, Lake District
The pocket mountain. You can get up and down Helvellyn in under three hours all-in. Some people jaunt up Keppel Cove to Raise and then straight down Sticks Pass. I prefer to bag the summit of Helvellyn and then turn-tail and head to Raise and Sticks Pass. It’s the more completist option and features some rather sporting sections to boot.
7. Middle of Nowhere: Swaledale, North Yorkshire
The home of ‘Ard Rock. Don’t go expecting woodland singletrack. There are zero trees in Swaledale. Well, that’s not true but there isn’t any proper woodland to speak of. If you’re blessed with a day without wind, then zipping around Swaledale is a real blast. It’s not without it’s challenges though; some of the biggest climbs in England lurk here.
8. Nu Skool Bike Park: Leeds Urban Bike Park
A wholly improbable place that you can hardly believe exists, even when you’re actually there riding the thing. Genuinely fun for all the family. The recently opened sections in the woods tick all the boxes for the more experienced mum and Dad mountain bikers too.
9. Flow Central: Long Mynd, Shropshire
Another place you can hardly believe is real. Or, more accurately, can hardly believe is legal to ride. Bridleways are meant to be wide, boring and annoyingly interrupted with gates, yes? Not here. Not in the majestic slopes of Long Mynd. Minton Batch gets all the hype (as it should) but there’s loads more prime riding to be had on this expansive wedge of a hill.
10. Holiday Home: Lustleigh, Dartmoor
The sneaky south west. Home to a lesser known and under appreciated network of excellent mountain bike routes. Honestly, choose any route from the South West Englad section of our 100 Best Mountain Bike Routes in the UK and you’re in for a brilliant ride. If I had to choose one (which apparently I do) then I’d go for this Lustleigh classic.
Just get out and ride
Right then, there you are. The best places to ride in the UK, in my opinion. Get planning your UK staycations and day trips now!