Five Trail Centres Which You Should Have Checked Out By Now
Travelling is part of being a mountain biker, the eternal search for the perfect single track takes us to all corners of the UK, and often the world too. With the explosion of trail centres in the UK over the last 10 years, we have sweet single track packaged neatly into way marked trails now, where we can park up and ride for hours on maintained, all weather and colour graded trails. Here’s our list of the unmissable ones.
This trail centre actually includes two centres within a short ride of each other: Afan Visitors’ Centre and Glyncorrwg Visitors’ Centre. This means that it has two bike shops and two cafes, but it also has loads of trails. These include five red trails, one black, one orange, a green and a blue. ‘The Wall’ and ‘Whites Level’ are the classics that everyone talks about, and can even be combined into a 44 km epic which will provide you with trail war stories for months to come. The centres themselves are set not far from Swansea in South Wales, so it's just off of the M4. The forest setting gives the trails that classic Welsh backcountry feel, complete with rewarding views after some lung busting climbs.
This was the original forest trail centre, and was the blueprint for all others in the UK. For that reason it has entered trail riding folklore. If you’re used to South Wales, and other trail centres; North Wales’ will amaze. The rocks are bigger, the climbs are tougher and the trail obstacles will test you. For those reasons the centre has three black, three red, a blue and a green trail. The top of the list is the black rated ‘Beast of Brenin’ which takes in the best part of 40 km of trails. There are shorter ones too though and less technical ones too. The newest trail at Brenin is even ‘adaptive MTB’ accessible for four-wheeled riders with disabilities. Whilst it is fairly remote (about 1 ½ hours from our Chester Store) Coed Y Brenin is most definitely worth the visit, there’s certainly enough for a couple of days’ riding.
This centre offers three trails including two red trails with black graded sections and a full on downhill course. ‘Follow the Dog’ was the original trail in 2005, and it still exists today with a few additions. For the UK, Cannock Chase was an early adopter of north shore wooden sections. Considering its relatively close to Birmingham (¾ of an hour from our Birmingham Specialized Concept Store) it’s got some great singletrack, the hills aren't that of Wales and Scotland, but somehow the trails flow and swoop nicely.
In the North East, just on the English side of the Border is the mighty Kielder Forest, it includes three red trails, one black, a blue and a green. The grippy bedrock means that the trails drain well and provide amazing traction. The red and black combine to make the 17 km ‘Deadwater Trail’, and the views take in southern Scotland and the lake district on clear days. The ‘Bloody Bush’ red graded trail takes in some great north shore and even a short stint over the Scottish border. The area is set up for tourism with loads of accommodation and is around 3 hours north of our Harrogate store, or just over an hour out of Newcastle.
Southern Scotland is awash with some great centres, Glentress is one of the best, although they all have their followers. This giant of the trail centre world (combined with the satellite centre of Innerleithen) offers two reds, a black, two greens, a blue, a freeride and a downhill course. Creatively named ‘ The Black Route’, the toughest trail is 29 km of technical riding with some hellish climbing. The ‘Ewok Village’ section was some of the first north shore in the UK and ‘The Bitch’ includes very technical loose rocks which will test the best riders amongst us. It’s less than an hour directly south of Edinburgh, or a couple of hours north of Carlisle if you’re coming from the English side of the border.ASK YOUR LOCAL STORE >
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