As mountain biking becomes ever more popular, an increasing number of specialist centres are popping up all over the UK. You don’t have to be an experienced rider to be able to enjoy some tailor-made trails. With that being said, not all areas are specifically just for mountain bikes; we’ve also included some areas that are just generally great for riding. If you’re stuck for ideas, we take a look at some of the best places to take your mountain bike in the UK to inspire your next ride.
1. Coed Y Brenin, North Wales
We couldn’t have a list of top mountain bike locations without including this one. Considered by many to be the birthplace of mountain bike centres, here you can find bike hire facilities, changing rooms, a café and variety of trails to choose from, ranging from those that suit beginners right through to those more suited to expert riders. If you want to really test your mountain bike out, this is a great option.
2. Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
Another impressive trail centre with a visitor centre, bike hire and shop all in one package. Cannock Chase is undergoing upgrades this year, meaning the routes should be in top condition and there is news of new routes being built in the pipeline. There is a range of trails and routes to choose from, including the famous ‘Dog Trail’, which offers a decent challenge to more experienced riders.
3. Dalby Forest, Scarborough
Dalby Forest hosted the UCI MTB World Cup in 2011 and for good reason – they offer trails that are truly top quality. That’s not to say you need to be an elite rider to ride these – many of their routes fall more into the ‘Cross Country’ category meaning they can be comfortably ridden by all abilities. There are many technical routes for those who really want to test themselves. It also offers activities for non-cyclist, including a Go-Ape course and an adventure playground, so why not take the whole family?
4. Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
A woodland area that really offers something for everyone. The Forest of Dean is very popular with all types of riders – for those into downhill riding, they offer an uplift service to access the super fast downhill trails. If cross-country is more your thing, then take advantage of the wide forest tracks and marked routes, or if you like Singletrack trails there’s a wealth of them still waiting to be discovered.
Their 17.5km Family Trail is perfect for children and they also offer great beginners trails. They even host regular racing events for those of you are a little more competitive.
5. Grizedale, Lake District
The Lake District is a well-known mountain biking hotspot and offers some of the best riding landscapes in the UK. Grizedale has trails ranging from 3km to 23km, all of which aren’t particularly technical, meaning it's well suited to all and a great place to cover the distance for those who enjoy a more leisurely ride rather than really technical trails. Whilst it’s not too technical, be prepared for the odd incline as this part of the country isn’t particularly flat – it’s worth the effort though, as the views at the top of the hills are incredible and there are even forest sculptures scattered throughout to give you something to look out for whilst on your ride.
6. Swinley Forest, Bracknell
For city dwellers in London, Swinley Forest is ideally located to escape the bustling city life and hit some real woodland trails. It’s an up and coming centre with several trails just introduced in the last year and with more in the pipeline. Furthermore, regular group rides take place, meaning it’s a great place for those looking to make some riding buddies. Their red trail provides a challenge for those looking for something technical whilst their 1.2km green trail is perfect for younger riders who are just getting into the sport.
7. Sherwood Pines, Mansfield
Located in the Midlands (making it easily accessible for most) is Sherwood Pines Forest Park. The park boasts over 45km of unmarked trails as well as several marked routes for those who prefer to know where they’re going. A few unique features included a skills area and a purpose-built bike park with a set of dirt jumps to practice getting some air as well as a specific Downhill zone.
8. Gisburn Forest, Lancashire
Gisburn Forest regularly scores highly in polls for the UK's best trail centre and for good reason. It is home to some of the oldest purpose-built tracks in the UK and offers a challenging red trail, as well as a shorter blue trail for casual riders.
In December 2017, they introduced a brand new red trail, giving riders even more to go at. It is home to two separate downhill tracks, which include some huge jumps and is strictly reserved for the more advanced rider. Although the facilities aren’t as good as other centres, you’ll be lucky to find a spot in the car park on weekends.
How about riding the Reign on some real trails – find out more here
9. Whinlatter, Lake District
Whinlatter is home to the longest purpose-built mountain bike trails in the Lake District. The forest itself rises to 790 meters above sea level and is England’s only mountain forest; as a result, offers stunning views of the whole of the Lake District. Although it only offers two main trails, it still boasts over 25km of tracks to be ridden and there a shorter version of both trails available for those not wanting to ride the full loop. The centre has a good range of facilities including a café and bike hire available.
10. Your Local Area
Who says you need to travel to enjoy riding your mountain bike? People often overlook their local area and spend hours in the car travelling to ride their bike, but you might be surprised at just how much fun riding around your own locality can be. Whether it’s a local canal path, a nearby forest or just a local park, these are all great places to hone your mountain bike skills and simply have fun riding.