The perfect place to start for new riders and young ‘uns – all killer, no filler mileage. Counties covered: Dorset, Cumbria, Oxfordshire, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
Outgrown your local loops? Done all the nearby trial centres to death? Time to get out on the real trails then. Here are five of the best beginner mountain bike routes in the UK.
Oxenhope, West Yorkshire, 11.2km (6.9 miles)
The hills and dales of West Yorkshire mix sharp climbs and descents with flowing moorland singletrack. All of these elements feature on this ride. The climbs are generally pretty smooth, so while they have a bit of a bite to them they are manageable. Whizzing through the heather when it’s in full bloom is always a buzz and the descents pay back previous efforts with some real speed and chunky rock sections to test your skills.
Dunsop Bridge, Lancashire, 19.3km (12.0 miles)
Fancy getting that out-there feeling without getting too far from civilisation? This is the route for you. The empty, grassy fells of the Forest of Bowland provide a gentle introduction to some of the North’s wilder scenery. Starting on farm tracks you’ll wind your way up onto Dunsop Fell before dropping off the front of it on fast, fun, flowing singletrack. If you want to keep the ride going turn into Grizedale forest for a trail centre fix.
Watlington, Oxfordshire, 20.0km (12.4 miles)
The Chiltern Hills have long been a refuge for riders in the South-East and their generally unintimidating nature makes them the perfect place to get your off-road fix. Most of the ride is on easy-going hedge-lined bridleway and farm track but there’s some tight and twisty singletrack tucked away in the trees to keep you on your toes. As the Chiltern Hills are made of chalk, exercise a bit of caution in the wet – things can get a little slippy.
Loughrigg Terrace, Cumbria, 14.6km (9.1 miles)
There are few finer feelings than riding your mountain bike amongst mountains. You don’t even have to go up one to appreciate them either. Keeping to some of the lower fells this ride acts as a Lakes taster, hopefully whetting your appetite for bigger – and higher – days out. Being The Lake District there’s no avoiding some tough climbs, but there’s also plenty of rewarding descents. And views. And pubs. And cafes.
Cranborne Chase, Dorset, 14.3km (8.9 miles)
Mountain biking in Dorset? We would. Rubbish joke, but it’s true. Sure you’re not going to get mountains, long descents or wilderness but in between the well-tended fields and manicured estates are some superb singletrack sections and the rolling hills provide enough elevation to give your legs and gears a workout.