Ideal Bank Holiday weekend combos
AKA trail centre alternatives. Ridden the trail centre a few times now? Here’s five great loops near trail centres that don’t have waymark arrows.
1. The Ciaran Path, Kinlochleven (near Fort William)
GPS download: po.st/Ciaran
As good a slice of non-trail-centre singletrack as you’re going to find in the UK. It’s a big climb from Kinlochleven (Landranger 41/NN187619) up to the Blackwater Dam, but the height is gained quickly on the West Highland Way, which you follow up to a split at NN202604. The WHW breaks R but you stay on the well-surfaced track to the dam. The track widens before the dam, turn L here and drop to cross the river then continue on singletrack to the N end of the dam. Now turn L to follow the Ciaran Path W all the way back to Kinlochleven.
2. The Blorenge, Abergavenny (near Cwm Carn trail centre)
GPS download: po.st/Blorenge
From Llanfoist (Landranger 160/SO286132), take the community path NW to the Forge car park then take lanes WSW onto the foot of Gilwern Hill (SO236140). Follow a stony track S around the mountain, and continue to B42426. Keep the pond to your L and continue onto the N flanks of the mountain, where a post marks the descent. Drop E on rough singletrack east then continue S to the Punchbowl. Climb away then drop SE to the road and N to the canal. This leads back to Llanfoist.
3. Wildboarclough, Peak District (near Cannock Chase, sort of)
GPS download: po.st/WildBoarClough
OK, the Peak isn’t exactly on the doorstep of Cannock Chase, but in our opinion, this is the best option within spitting distance – and it’s a cracker. Turn L at the top of Wildboarclough (Landranger 118/SJ978714) and climb W to into Macclesfield Forest. Follow the permissive cycle path around the S of the forest and when you reach tarmac, turn R, then L, then R again for 500m to another permissive BW on your L. Climb N then turn R onto the road, then R again to head SE to Chapel House farm. Drop to Bottom-of-the-Oven, and follow tarmac E to to the Cat and Fiddle. Head S onto a track opposite the pub, continue S on the A54, and stay S on a BW that leads to Holt and on to Three Shires Head. Continue around Cut-thorn Hill and back NE to Sparbent, to drop NE to finish.
4. Pont Scethin, Snowdonia (near Coed y Brenin trail centre)
GPS download: po.st/Pont
Park just east of Bontddu (Landranger124/SH677189) and follow the road west into the village. Take the first R and climb to the top. Continue NW, now on a rough track and continue to the top. Descend to Pont Scethin and keep SA to a broad track. Turn L and follow this W to SH602230, where you head S to Pont Fadog. Cross and then turn R to climb SW to Bwlch y Rhiwgyr. Drop E to the forest edge at SH639200 and follow tracks S the NE to a BW at SH650186. This is a great descent to the road.
5. Borrowdale, Lake District (near Whinlatter trail centre)
GPS download: po.st/Borrowdale
There’s bags of choice in the centre, but for us, the real Lakes riding starts in the fells. This is a true classic and low enough and rocky enough to work all year round. Keswick makes a good starting point (Landranger 90, NY265231), from there head S on tarmac to Watendlath. Head SW for a steep up and steep and technical down to Rosthwaite – don’t worry, this is as hairy as it gets. Use tarmac to make a start on the Honister Pass but before the top, break NE on a great rocky BW that leads you down to Grange and on, around Catbells, to the finish