Park and ride

More of the UK’s natural trails and trail centres could get wrapped up in newly created National Parks, after a review of protected areas was announced this summer.

>>> How has mountain biking changed in the South Downs?

The review will look at whether the United Kingdom’s 34 AONBs (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and 15 national parks could grow, prompted by a growth in the UK population and loss of habit for species. But what will this mean for mountain biking inside any newly formed national park? Will access improve, new trails be built and old ones sanctioned? Or quite the opposite?

It’s hard to say, but fortunately there’s a precedent here, when the South Downs became a National Park in 2011. The impact here has been hard to see, the status quo has been maintained and mountain bikes remain welcomed and supported by councils in the Park boundary, but there’s little new for mountain bikers after seven years of Park status. We’ll just have to hope any new Parks created will recognise and embrace the opportunities that mountain biking brings.

National Park facts

[Data from]


Square kilometres — size of the Cairngorms, the UK’s largest National Park. Ben Macdui is the highest point in any National Park, at 1309m.


Year the South Downs became a National Park. Blackdown at 280m is the highest point.


Million visitors a year head the Lake District, the UK’s most popular National Park.


National Parks globally, covering 6% of the Earth’s landmass or 149 million square kilometres.