Summer staycation. The UK has some of the world’s best riding – make the most of it this summer with our five showstopper rides.
*Covid travel restrictions permitting!
Ben Lomond, Scotland
37km (23 miles)
Within striking distance of Glasgow’s city limits, Ben Lomond makes for an easy picking for city-dwelling riders and walkers alike. So, to make the most of this out-and-back (or rather up-and-down) you’re best getting started early doors. It’s worth the early alarm call. Starting alongside Loch Lomond on the West Highland Way to get warmed up, you’re then faced with a hike up towards the summit. If you like your descents with spectacular views then you won’t be disappointed – surrounded by the Trossachs, the Loch Lomond archipelago below and Glasgow on the horizon, it can be hard to keep your eye on the trail. Time it right and you can be back before the rest of the world, or family, have woken up.
Nan Bield Pass, Lake Dsitrict
24.4km (15.2 miles)
Nan Bield, specifically the descent down towards Kentmere Reservoir, is one of those must-do trails in the Lake District. Techy, twisting and with scenery that makes the rather brutal hike-a-bike to the top worth all the struggle. At the bottom, your options are to turn around and hike back to the top of Nan Bield and ride down what you just hiked up, or cross over into the next valley (Long Sleddale) and over Gatescarth Pass. Gatescarth itself is a dull up and down so this route takes a detour into Mosedale before picking up the Old Corpse Road back down to Haweswater. This descent isn’t as well known as Nan Bield but just as fun and just as amazingly photogenic.
Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor
22km (13.7 miles)
Dartmoor has a well-deserved reputation for being an epic riding destination – a wide, open wilderness a rider could easily get lost in. This route, however, will keep you on the right track, giving you a taste for the expanse of the moors but without the need to ever leave your comfort zone. It’s not a technical ride so can be ridden at speed with no surprises but it also serves up sweeping panoramas and is definitely worth taking your time over, especially when the sun is out.
Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales
27.7km (17.2 miles)
Home of the Ard Rock Enduro, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale have some cracking riding, some of it obvious, some of it less so. You’ll have to work for the good stuff though. The climbs are long and tough; Fremington Edge in particular has a reputation for breaking even the strongest riders. But once you get up onto the moors you’ve got plenty of options as to what you do with that hard-won height. This figure-of-eight ride has two particularly challenging climbs, including Fremington Edge, so pack some extra butties. It also has descents that range from steep to mellow, but somehow all are equally fast.
Cadair Idris, North Wales
17.4km (10.8 miles)
West Wales makes for a perfect holiday location – sun (sometimes), sea and, er, mountain biking. With Coed y Brenin on hand to give you your trail centre fix, if you’re in the mood for some riding that involves proper mountains, take a look across the Mawddach Estuary to the hulking mass of Cadair Idris. Despite its size there’s only one bridleway available to mountain bikers so you’ll be going up and down on the same trail. It’s a popular mountain so you’ll need to keep your wits about you and ride with caution. An early start or late finish is the best way to enjoy the descent uninterrupted.