Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Hamsterley Forest: Top 10 forests in England

An article published on the Guardian website has listed County Durham's Hamsterley Forest in it's top 10 in the country - and rightly so!

The forestry commission are doing a great job of maintaining the trails at Hamsterley. And with the size of the forest, there are routes for every level of cyclist. Families can ride the forest fire roads, you can brush up on you mountain bike handling on the skills loop, tackle blue (moderate), red (hard) or black (severe) trails. The harder they get the less you see of fire roads and more technical single track in the forest itself. With a permit, you can even take on the forests downhill course, Descend.

Over the years the trails have had some serious development, especially on red/black graded routes. This is clear to see on sections called Section 13, Transmission, Nitrous and Accelerator. These are fun to ride fast on an appropriate bike, but there are "chicken runs" if they seem too gnarly. Always stop and check out an unfamiliar route, making sure nobody is haring down behind you.

It costs £3 to park there and with toilets and a visitor centre/cafe, bike shop/hire/jet wash, its a great place to spend a weekend morning or afternoon testing your ability.

You can find directions using the link below:

Hamsterley Forest Tea Rooms

For more info on the trails, visit this awesome webpage:

See the full Guardian article below:

Article content:

Whether you're looking for family-friendly trails or a mountain-bike challenge, England has woods for every cyclist

Cardinham Woods in Cornwall only opened its new mountain-biking trails – including the fearsomely named Bodmin Beast and Hell's Teeth – this year, but it's already becoming a favoured spot among informed and experienced mountain bikers.

Leigh Woods and Ashton Court in Bristol are perfect for a fast fix. Just moments from the city centre, they couldn't feel further from urbanity. Cycle three marked Leigh Woods trails against a stunning backdrop with views of Avon Gorge and Clifton suspension bridge.

New Forest You won't find trails for the extreme cyclist here, but you will enjoy 100 miles of traffic-free routes on flat, gravel track that is perfect for families.  Summer is an extra-special time as the adorable New Forest foals are around, but do not disturb or attempt to feed the forest ponies.

Grizedale Forest in Cumbria has ancient oak woodlands and glorious views over the Lake District and across to the Old Man of Coniston. Of the six way-marked cycling trails, only one is technical and challenging while the others follow forest roads. All include hills, though.

Kielder Forest in Northumberland (pictured below) is awesome both for its size and variety of routes. This is England's largest forest, so if you are planning to cover more than a fraction of it, you've really got to tackle it by bike.

Forest of Dean offers family routes, such as the Peregrine Path, and mountain biking in the Sallowvallets area. It doesn't promise the biggest terrain or gnarliest descents but fast, fun trails – and incredible bacon butties – have made it the English forest of choice for mountain- biking experts at Wideopen magazine.

Dalby Forest in Yorkshire is one of the best mountain-biking sites in the world. The four-mile, black-graded World Cup cycle trail is challenging, but there are less frenetic blue and green trails (graded easy and moderate), too.

Sherwood Pines mountain- bike trails range from green (easy) to orange (extreme) in the East Midlands' largest forest open to the public. Route 6 of the wonderful National Cycle Network runs right through it too, so cycle tourers get a taste of the woodland as part of a longer ride.

Bedgebury Forest in Kent has an eight-mile single track for mountain biking or a six-mile family trail, which is easy to cut short if needed. It's not possible to cycle in the National Pinetum, but take time to explore it on foot.

Hamsterley Forest in County Durham is a well-known mountain-biking spot, renowned for its downhill trails and offering technical, challenging riding. The Walney to Wear long-distance cycle route passes through this forest, too.

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Via: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/bike-blog/2013/aug/03/cycling-ten-top-forests

Originally from: Environment: Bike blog | theguardian.com http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog

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