Our top 10 favourite mountain bike rides in England

Sure, Scotland and Wales have some incredible mountain bike trails. But, don’t forget England, home to some of the finest singletrack trails in our little island.

Here’s our 10 favourite English mountain bike rides – get them on your bucket list for Summer!

Forest of Dean, South West.

morgan tyrrell mini downhill forest of dean
Photo: Dave McFarlane.

Starting with a bang, the Forest of Dean has it all. From shuttled downhill runs to waymarked trails, the ‘official’ stuff will keep you occupied for days. Scratch the surface of the off piste trails though and you could spend the rest of your life here searching out every turn in the woods.

Fancy your hand at some downhill racing? Forest of Dean offers some most excellent mini downhill events, check out our coverage here. Pedalabikeaway is your go-to bike shop in the forest, with FlyUp Downhill offering uplift services.

Swinley Forest, South East.

 

A far cry from the gnar of the Lakes, Scotland or Snowdonia, Swinley Forest is part of the Crown Estate in the south east of England.

While it might not have the elevation or thrill factor of places further afield, Swinley offers some warp speed trail riding despite the weather, courtesy of the swathes of Scots Pines providing shelter. Check out our coverage of the Swinley Enduro here.

Swinley Bike Hub is the place for all your MTB needs.

Peaslake, South East.

Another one way down south where the bananas grow. Peaslake is another hidden gem that anybody north of Birmingham is blissfully unaware of. Much like Swinley though, what it lacks in vertical majesty, in more than makes up for it in quality and variety.

You could get easily lost riding around Peaslake with the never ending trails vanishing into the undergrowth.

Head to Pedal & Spoke in Peaslake.

Exmoor, South West.

Exmoor is a part of the UK that will surprise most. With some serious expanse of open moorland on offer, this contrasts well with the steep, narrow valleys that run from the centre out to the sea on its northern perimeter.

Massive open trails make their way aimlessly across the open hillsides before you’re funnelled into the thick woods above tumbling rivers and the eyes must adapt to paying much more attention very quickly.

Check out The DMR EX enduro event that takes place in Exmoor, here.

Hellvellyn, North West.

Helvellyn is England’s tallest legally rideable peak, and as a result, is very popular with mountain bikers. It also sports some excellent and varied routes to the summit and back to the car.

Regardless of your choice of route, take your man pants, a warm jacket, knee pads and some spare tubes. You will need them all.

You can check out Pete’s list of big mountain essentials here.

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Top tip: Bank Holiday weekends. Avoid.

Macc Forest, North West.

 

Another hidden gem that many know about but few rarely travel to. Macclesfield Forest sits just south of Manchester and offers more than a mix of your ‘classic’ riding away from the bustle of the big city.

While you’ll find no waymarks, there are bridleways that cut through the forest and for those keen of eye and able to follow their nose will find the unofficial gold hidden in the woods.

Check out the official offering over on Macc Forest’s site, here.

Hopton Castle, Shropshire.

 

Hopton Castle is where your scribe rode his first downhill race way back in 2001. A root-infested downhill track pushes the modest elevation to the back of your mind very quickly. Pearce Cycles have been running excellent downhill races here for almost two decades and long may that continue.

If you don’t fancy the thrills of the downhill, the XC route is just as involving if a little less hectic.

Head to Pearce Cycles for your bike and event needs, here, and the FC page for route guides.

Coquet Vale, North East.

Coquet Vale is probably the least well-known of the riding spots on this list and we’re not entirely sure why. As with all of the above, bar maybe Helvellyn, Coquet Vale hits well above its weight.

With a low population density and some cracking trails, you’re sure to find some empty gold to clear your head.

The Naughty Northumbrian enduro should help put it on the map though, you can check out our interview with the organisers here.

Swaledale, North East.

Very much on the map thanks to the beyond sold-out Ard Rock Enduro, Swaledale makes the most of the post-industrial landscapes to bring a level of rock-infestation few are accustomed too.

A wicked wind whips across the open hills here and you won’t see many trees, but the riding is spectacular, technical and rewarding for your efforts.

Check out the Ard Rock event here and head to Dales Bike Centre for bikes, cake and accommodation.

Some of these routes will require you to follow a local or your nose, but others way marked and easy to follow.

Chat to folk and they’ll usually be happy for you to tag along, you never know, you might end up returning the favour!

What did we miss? Where are the classics? Where is your favourite ride in England?


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