Wild and wonderful

Got to get away from it all, breathe in some fresh air and get a little closer to nature and the landscape? These are our favourite escapes.

>>> Are these the best five mountain bike routes in the UK?

1. Border Ridge, Cheviot Hills

36km/22 Miles
Ride time: 5 hours +
Why ride it? Wild, varied and some great trails
Where to eat? Rose & thistle, Alwinton
Download: po.st/Cheviot

The Cheviot Hills are probably the wildest hills in England. Yet they hide some superb trails. This little outing stays south of the border (just) but definitely has that big country feel of Scotland in places. From Alwinton (Landranger 80/NT921062), head N up Clennel Street and through Kidland Forest to drop to the Usway Burn. Keep N around Hazely Law to the border and follow this over Windy Gyle. At Black Braes head S to into Coquetdale and at Barrowburn, head north again to Fairhaugh, where you break S again to drop down Coquetdale to Shillmoor. A BW leads SE back to Alwinton.

2. Shap Fells, Lake District

31km/20 Miles
Ride time: 5 hours +
Why ride it? To get away from it all – a side of the Lakes you don’t see very often
Where to eat? Mardale Inn, Bampton
Download: po.st/ShapFells

This is the Lake District, but not as you know it. Definitely one of the wilder outings you’ll get in these parts. Start at Burnbanks (Landranger 90/NY507161), and head back to the road. Turn R then SA on a BW to Naddle Farm and onto Bewbarrow Crag. Turn L then R to follow tarmac to Kemp How, where a R leads to Thorney Bank. Take the BW SW to Mosedale, where you meet the main track to Gatesgarth. Climb the pass and drop to Haweswater and follow the road back.

3. Merrivale, Dartmoor

12km/7 miles
Ride time: 2 hours
Why ride it? Some great trails that feel way more out there than they really are
Where to eat: Peter Tavey Inn
Download: po.st/Merrivale

Dartmoor is definitely southern England’s wilderness, and this little loop gets into the heart of that wild ground pretty easily. As always with Dartmoor, you’re never far from ancient artefacts like standing stones and burial cairns – all part of the experience. Start near Peter Tavy (Landranger 201/SX522778) and head NE up the lane and then N onto a bridleway that leads down to Cuddliptown. Take tarmac NE, past Waspworthy and continue W at Brousentor Farm to clamber up onto Cocks Hill. Now take a R to cross the moor, heading SW the whole time, all the way back to the finish.

4. Ben Macdui and Loch Arn, Cairngorms

35km/22 Miles
Time: Allow 8 hours
Why ride it? Epic ride on Britain’s 2nd highest peak
Where to eat: Cairngorm Hotel, Aviemore
Download: po.st/BenMacdui

It doesn’t get much wilder than Britain’s 2nd highest peak, it doesn’t get much tougher either. But if you’re prepared to put in the effort, this is one of the best days you’ll ever have on a bike. Park near Glenmore Lodge (Landranger 36/NH977096) and take the track W past the lodge, NW past An Lochan Uaine then W to cross the River Nethy. Break SE then S over Bynack More, then follow vague paths that follow the boundary line SW down to Loch Arn. This is the hard bit, Hike-a-bike to the W tip of the loch then SE to Loch Etchachan. Continue SW to Ben Macdui. Descend NW then NE to the ski resort and take the trail W of the road back down.

5. Doethie Valley, Mid Wales

22km/13 Miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Why ride it? Classic Welsh singletrack and a stunning, remote valley
Where to eat? Royal Oak, Rhandirmwyn
Download: po.st/DoethieValley

A cult classic and a superb ride that also happens to cross some very wild and remote ground. From Llyn Briane (Landranger 147/SN792485), cross the dam then take forest roads around the reservoir, keeping it your R the whole time. Continue NW to the chapel at Soar-y-mynydd. Climb steeply W then descend into the Doethie Valley, where you pick up the trail heading SE. Follow this down the valley, eventually entering a farm yard at SN770478. Go through then fork L to climb NE on a broad track that drops you back to Llyn Briane.