The great escape. Turn your back on the city and you’ll find wild riding on your doorstep.

The great escape. Turn your back on the city and you’ll find wild riding on your doorstep.

Read more: 100 best mountain bike routes in the UK

1. Stanage Edge, Sheffield

37km (23 miles)

Sheffield bills itself as the Outdoor City. Sitting on the edge of the Peak District, it borders some stunning countryside, making it a magnet for those looking for cosmopolitan living with access to the countryside. At the same time, Sheffield has brought the countryside into the city and within easy reach of riders, with Parkwood Springs offering trails within its urban limits. This route takes you a little further afield and onto some of the rugged gritstone trails that have come to define Peak District riding, delivering you back to the city for post-ride burritos and iced skinny mochas.

2. Mugdock, Glasgow

27.9km (17.3 miles)

You don’t need to travel too far out of Glasgow to get to great riding. Mountains, forests and lochs run right up to the city boundary thanks to the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. But you don’t even have to go as far as the Trossachs to get off-road. Mugdock Country Park sits at the bottom of the Campsie Fells and makes a great starting point for urban escapes. In contrast to the wild landscape of the Trossachs, Mugdock and the Campsie’s are much more mellow, making this ride a good bet for those looking to get out of town without getting out of their depth.

3. Clent Hills, Birmingham

31.9km (19.8 miles)

The sprawling metropolis of Birmingham might not be the obvious location for mountain biking, but all around its periphery are pockets of quality riding. Cannock Chase to the north and the Wyre Valley to the south are the best known of these, but the often-overlooked Clent Hills to the south-west of the city are also worth exploring. Hidden in plain sight just off the M5, they pack in more elevation than you’d give this part of the Midlands credit for. The Clent Hills are pretty compact, so while you could start in the middle of them and have a good blast, this route starts a little way out near Kidderminster before getting into the hills themselves.

4. The Chilterns, High Wycombe

15.7km (9.8 miles)

Skirting north-west London, the Chiltern Hills are the epitome of rolling English countryside. What they lack in outright height they make up for with short, punchy climbs that are just as challenging as a big grind up a mountain. Mixing up woodland singletrack, ancient byways and modern farm tracks, the Chilterns are at their best in the dry; composed of chalk, the trails can get slick in the wet and thick clay and flint can make the going slow. Even then, crossing the M40 twice, this route is a good reminder of the escape from the slow lane that mountain biking can provide.

5. Lansdown, Bath

23.4km (14.5 miles)

With a thriving trail network inside the city and the Welsh riviera just over the Severn Bridge, Bristol tends to get most of the love from mountain bikers in the South-West. Neighbouring Bath has a strong cycling scene of its own, though. This ride is equidistant from Bristol and Bath, but it starts on the outskirts of Bath, so we’ll call it in the latter’s favour, but with a bit re-routing it could easily be turned into a more Bristol-centric ride. Don’t expect mega-techy trails and features, but be prepared to work hard for the views onto the two cities from the top of Lansdown, and savour the sweet descents that follow.