Trails that are too wet, too wild or too darn hard to do when it's wet
Here’s our top five routes to challenge you this Bank Holiday weekend before wet weather returns and makes them inaccessible or inadvisable once again.
After a seemingly endless winter, the first shoots of summer are now here. Work your way through them and we’ve also got our 20 all-time best mountain bike trails for your delectation.
1. Around the Ben, Scotland
70km (44 miles)
Techy trails and a couple of big rivers. An epic ride. From the Braveheart car park (Landranger 41/NN122736), climb SW then S on the West Highland Way all the way to Kinlochleven, where it dips right. An old military road carries you past Loch Eilde Mor and to a ford at Luibeilt Bothy. Continue NE on a trail that merges with a track in the Lairig Leacach. Take this N to the A86 and ski centre, and the forest track home. Why not make a weekend of it and try some of our other Highland routes?
2. Beacon Batch, Mendip Hills
13km (7 miles)
A mud-fest in the winter, dust central when dry. From the top of Burrington Combe (Landranger 182/ST489581), turn L then R. Take the centre track and climb onto the ridge. R and R will see you dropping N then L and L sees you heading back S to Tynings Farm. R here drops you into the forest, where you keep heading N to Rowberrow. Now climb back onto Black Down for a stony plummet to the finish.
3. Cut Gate Path, Peak District
30km (19 miles)
Featured in our 20 best mountain biking trails in the UK, Cut Gate Peak is a true classic but sadly ridden too often in poor nick. In the dry, it’s easier and better. From Fairholmes (Landranger 110/SK171893), head N — tarmac on the W side of the water or dirt on the E — and at Slippery Stones, take the BW east. Climb over the top and drop sweetly to the green signpost. R to a junction, then L and L to climb back up again. Now simply retrace your earlier tracks back, savouring the super-dry peat and the techy challenge of the switchbacks.
4. Stanhope, County Durham
26km (16 miles)
Heathery singletrack that runs sweetly when dry but like superglue when it’s not. Head NW out of Blanchland (Landranger 87/NY964504) and N across the moor into Slaley Forest. A hard L takes you SW onto the moor where singletrack leads SW then SE down to Baybridge. A stiff road climb leads onto Cuthbert’s Hill where singletrack takes over and leads to Bolt’s Law. Enjoy more singletrack NE to the road, then a few metres to a final BW E then N to finish.
5. Dunnerdale Fells, Lake District
14km (9 miles)
This loop just keeps on giving – predominantly on fine singletrack that only comes into its own in summer with increased speed and flow. It starts on good surfaces though, and from Seathwaite (Landranger96/SD229961) you follow the road N, then the Walna Scar Road – a rocky track – E over the 400m contour. R here leads to a mix of rough mining tracks and faint singletrack and this establishes itself as it approaches Stevenson Ground. More singletrack leads NW then S, looping around Stainton Ground to a major junction. Climb N into the col and lap up the final descent.