Those thin, winding trails we call singletrack are the reason we ride. Singletrack IS mountain biking. So, here’s to stellar singletrack!
1. Dunnerdale, Lake District
29.7km (18.4 miles)
This corner of the Lakes is often quieter than most and this route keeps you, mostly, off the trails that see the most traffic. So, if you’re looking for peace and quiet to enjoy the Southern fells and some magnificent singletrack, this is a winner. If you’re a Lakes connoisseur, some of this route may seem familiar as it shares some of the same trails as the tried and tested Walna Scar classic. This ride puts a twist on things, literally, avoiding the usual wide tracks for some unusually narrow ones.
2. Doethie Valley, Wales
23.8km (14.8 miles)
On paper (or screen) this route doesn’t look all that. A pretty straightforward loop with only 778 metres of total ascent over 24 kilometres, it doesn’t sound like it’s worth the hassle of navigating mid-Wales for. But it very much is. In truth, this route is all about the return leg. A piece of singletrack of such perfection it must surely have been the inspiration for Wales’s trail centres. Pick a dry day when the trail is baked and hard and it doesn’t come better. Other trails have more altitude, more speed, more technical features but few are the whole package like Doethie is.
3. Ballater, Scotland
21.6km (13.4 miles)
The Cairngorms are the place to go for out-there epics. But it’s not all wild, wooly and worthy riding. Ballater on the east of the National Park is the starting point for some truly amazing singletrack, of which Heartbreak Ridge is the centrepiece. A tight heather-lined sliver of singletrack punctuated with granite slabs, the gradient is steep enough for you to effortlessly carry plenty of speed without it being a white-knuckle plummet. Needless to say, this being Scotland, the views are incredible but it pays to be vigilant and keep your eyes on the trail – there are plenty of gotcha rocks waiting to grab a misplaced pedal.
4. Doctor’s Gate/Cut Gate, Peak District
57.9km (36 miles)
Possibly the nation’s favourite singletrack trail. Cut Gate can get busy but pick your times (mornings and evenings work best) and you can get a clear run. Part of its popularity is no doubt the fact that it works so well in either direction. As a climb it’s challenging but achievable and as a descent it blends speed, flow and technical sections like it’s been designed with mountain bikes in mind. And in fact parts have been; thanks to the great work of local trail groups, boggy sections have been paved and the trail rides better than ever. This monster version also takes in the more techie Doctor’s Gate too. Pack extra sarnies.
Want more? Check out our 100 Best Mountain Bike Routes in the UK rundown.
5. Long Mynd, Shropshire
37.6km (23.8 miles)
Shropshire has the highest concentration of quality singletrack in the British Isles. Now, we can’t prove that (and we’re happy to be proven wrong) but after sampling this route we’re pretty sure you’ll agree. With multiple ways up and down The Mynd, it would be a shame not to tick off as many runs as possible, but be warned: to enjoy all those downs you’re going to have to put the effort in on the ups. Good job there are plenty of cafes at the bottom of the hill then. Once you’ve completed this route, you’ll have a good grasp of what this hillside has to offer and can pick and choose trails to suit and create your own Mynd Mega Mix.