Mountain Biking

Best rides in England

Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic games? Fancy trying your hand at a spot of Mountain biking? Here are a few of our favourite spots in Britain that we know you will love - chosen, researched and tested by champion Mountain biker, Chris Moran - taken straight from our acclaimed guide Mountain Biking Britain

Mineral Tramways Project

A perfect, family-friendly route that ticks every box: beautiful scenery, wonderful pit stops and cafes, care-free, great bike friendly accommodation and bike hire - if you need it. 

Location: The Mineral Tramways Project is a range of sites that make use of the ex-mining railway lines to take in the beautiful countryside in the southwest of Cornwall. For 2009, the best trail to head for would be the Coast to Coast Trail, which starts at the Bike Barn, part of the fantastic Elm Farm Cycle Centre set up just on the outskirts of Portreath. To get to Elm Farm, head down the A30 to Redruth,
then take the B3300 New Portreath Road north (right), in the direction of Portreath/Cambrose. After 1 km take a right into Cambrose and through the village on Chapel Hill. Carry along this road for 1 km and the Bike Barn and Elm Farm Cycle Centre are signposted off to the left.

Overview: This is a fantastic project, linking up several wellknown mountain bike sites in the southwest, as well as adding in all the infrastructure needed to bring families down to this part of the world on weekend or week-long holidays. The jewel in the crown is the Coast to Coast Trail, a 15-km ride (or 30 km if you loop it), from the north coast of Cornwall to the south coast town of Devoran 
(where a stop at The Quay Inn is a must), enabling you to brag that you’ve ridden from the top to the bottom of England. Much of the trail is very pleasant and easy riding, perfect for families; if you’re looking for more adventurous areas they are easily found however and the Elm Farm crew will be happy to  point out off-shoot areas that suit your ability level. 

Thetford Forest

East Anglias Thetford forest is fairly flat, but stunningly beautiful tract of land with the full bike and visitor centre set up. There are tonnes of races too, so check your calender if you fancy testing your lung capacity.

Location: Thetford Forest is just to the north of Thetford town, East Anglia. From the M25 take the A11 towards Norwich. Thetford is around 45 km down the A11. At Thetford take the B1107 north (Thetford Road), towards Brandon. The forest is around 2 km down this road and the public parking is signposted off to the right.

Overview: One thing that can be said with certainty about East Anglia is that it’s pretty flat, and Thetford is no exception. The trails do make the most of the terrain, however, by providing fast-flowing routes that keep momentum high. When dry and hard-packed the trails actually run very fast and are best suited to hardtails; when it’s wet the trails can cut up and run slower.

Cannock Chase

The chase is the number one spot in the Midlands, featuring the epic Follow the Dog trail, some great downhill and northshore, a brilliant visitor centre and fantastic bike shop. 

Location:  Cannock Chase is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty located between Cannock and Rugeley, both to the north of the M6 Toll Road. There are a couple of starting points for the trails, but whatever you do, head first to the Birches Valley Forest Centre. Leave the M6 at junction 11 taking the A460 towards Cannock, then Rugeley. At Hednesfield, take a left into Station Road (just after Chase Car Sales), signposted to Pye/Stafford. Then take the first right after 50 m, and go around 3 km along this road until the crossroads (ignore the visitor centre on the right). Take a right at the crossroads onto Birches Road, and the Birches Heath Visitor Centre (home to Swinnerton Cycles) is about 1 km down this road on the right.  

Delamere Forest

With a newly re-vamped visitor centre, some brilliant DJs, incredible cross-country and a very family friendly area. Delamere is an unexpected gem in the Cheshire countryside. 

Location Delamere Forest Park is a tract of Forestry Commission land 12 km to the northeast of Chester and 18 km southwest from Manchester. Take the B5125 north out of Delamere – itself on the A54, and the forest is well marked with plenty of parking along the quiet roads and plentiful access points. 

Overview It’s the largest woodland area (9.5 sq km) in Cheshire, with some great XC trails,  a brilliant DJ area and some short but interesting downhill. There’s a designated ‘Skills Area’ with a 4X course, the DJs, and some DH which includes some chutes and road gaps.

Coed Y Brenin (Snowdonia West)

This is still the home of UK mountain biking. Take a trip to where it all began at the very first purpose-built riding centre, just on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. 

Location Coed Y Brenin is right in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. From the M6 take the M54 past Telford, then the A5 around Shrewsbury and then the A458 through Welshpool. Head for 
Dolgellau and at the village turn north onto the A470 where, after 7 km, there’s a well-signed right into the Coed Y Brenin Visitor Centre.

Overview For many years this was the UK’s flagship trail centre, and the trails at Coed Y Brenin have led to the evolution of many new venues across the country. Its name means ‘forest of the kings’ – an apt moniker for this large block of forestry containing over 21,000 acres. The area is a rugged former volcanic region with many mineral deposits that have been mined for years. For those interested, there is a geology trail from the fantastic new multimillion pound Visitor Centre. For the biker though this means there is an incredibly hard-wearing, rocky surface to rip through the forest on. The trails hug beautiful, river-carved valleys with technical rock features and climb out over untamed mountain tops. Mountain biking is huge in Coed Y Brenin and the whole region has really taken to the development of the bike centre and its trails. When you add the drama of southern Snowdonia’s mountain views and the very real possibility of seeing the magnificent red kites circling overhead, it makes for a great day
in the saddle. Although many of the trails have been recently renamed, many insist on calling the trails by their old names. So you don’t get too confused on the hill, the Red Bull trail is now known as the Tarw (Welsh for bull), the MBR route remains and the old Karrimor trail is now affectionately known as The Beast!

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
Products in this Region

Mountain Biking Britain

Experienced Footprint author Chris Moran (co-author of Mountain Biking Europe and Snowboarding...
PDF Downloads

  No PDFs currently available

Digital Products

Available NOW!