Mountain Biking Trails Uncovered: Top 10 Must-Experience Routes in the UK

Published on December 18, 2023

Strap on your cleats and prepare for an adventure that beckons—we’re venturing onto the trails! Across this lush and picturesque isle, world-class mountain biking opportunities unfold amidst enchanting forests, sprawling fields, and majestic fells. From intricate technical rock gardens to gracefully flowing singletrack, the UK offers an array of thrills and spills, each bend revealing a new dimension of excitement.

In this guide, we unveil 10 trails that demand your attention. These routes go beyond being mere paths—they are tests of your technical prowess, windows into Britain’s natural splendour, and guaranteed to leave you grinning ear to ear. Whether hurtling downhill or conquering rugged ascents, each destination promises an unforgettable ride.

As kindred spirits in the realm of off-road cycling, we understand the exhilaration this sport imparts. There’s a unique freedom in navigating challenging terrain on two wheels, forging a connection with nature, and reveling in a flood of endorphins as you harmonise with the landscape. Consider this our rallying cry to fellow shredders in pursuit of their next epic trail—let the hunt commence! Dive into these dirt-worshipping adventures that are destined to become swift favourites. Your bike awaits, so why delay the thrill?

Full-Width Image

1. Coed-y-Brenin, Wales: The Beast

The legendary trail that commands reverence—The Beast at Coed-y-Brenin in Wales is nestled within the enchanting Forest of Aberystwyth. This advanced cross-country (XC) trail spans 5 miles of challenging terrain, featuring roots, rocks, and technical descents that will push your limits. Renowned as one of the UK’s most formidable trails, be prepared to check your ego at the entrance!

Navigating the rocky landscape demands a keen eye for line selection. Watch out for the notorious “Rocky Traverse,” a test of balance and courage on precarious slabs. And then, brace yourself for the heart-pounding descent down “Heart Attack Hill,” where speeds can reach a thrilling 40mph. Conquering these challenges brings the reward of breathtaking mountain scenery, with sweeping green valleys unfolding beneath your wheels.

For optimal conditions, tackle The Beast during the dry seasons from spring through autumn. Grip is best in the early morning, avoiding the intensity of the afternoon sun. Equip yourself with a full-suspension bike featuring 2.1″+ tires, along with the essential pads and helmet. This trail is top-level, recommended for riders with expert-level skills.

Prepare for the adventure by honing your skills on Coed-y-Brenin’s skills circuit beforehand. This training ground will equip you with the techniques needed to conquer every undulation of The Beast. Overcome its challenges, and you’ll earn well-deserved bragging rights—after all, it’s not hailed as the best in Britain for nothing! See you on the trail!

2. Afan Forest Park, Wales: Penhydd Trail

Nestled in the heart of Afan Forest, discover a trail that guarantees grins per hour—the intermediate Penhydd. This Welsh singletrack shred-fest invites you to revel in 9 miles of bermed corners and flowy jumps, seamlessly weaving through the enchanting woodland.

Get your adrenaline pumping with technical features like tabletops and wallrides, adding a dash of excitement to the ride. As you conquer gradual climbs, treat yourself to panoramic views stretching to Port Talbot and Aberavon Beaches. The real thrill awaits as you blast downhill, letting momentum carry you through expertly banked switchbacks. Stay sharp for pedal-smashing roots along the way.

For an ideal experience, choose mid-week adventures to avoid crowds and savor perfect trail conditions. Opt for a full-suspension bike with 2.1”+ knobbly tires to effortlessly rip through the trail at speed. Remember, helmets are a must, and pads add that extra layer of confidence for sending jumps with style.

After an exhilarating ride, refuel at the excellent Afan Bike Shed Café, because fuelled riders are undeniably happier shredders! Penhydd offers the complete ride experience—climbing to build your legs and descending to help forget life’s stresses—all surrounded by the stunning countryside scenery of South Wales. Don’t miss out—Afan’s flow never disappoints. Ready to seize the trail?

3. Glentress Forest, Scotland: The Red Route

Nestled within the Borders Forest Park awaits Scotland’s most celebrated flow trail—the legendary Red Route at Glentress. This intermediate 12km masterpiece, meticulously hand-built for the art of shredding, treats riders to a symphony of berms, jumps, and drop-offs against the backdrop of breathtaking Highlands scenery.

Prepare for technical standouts, including “The Gully,” where tight turns and rock drops challenge your manual skills. The iconic “Rock Drop” takes fearless moves to new heights, testing your mettle above a 30-foot canyon. Connecting these features are flowing bridges that weave through subtropical singletrack, ensuring you maintain speed and momentum. With each pedal stroke, revel in the amazing views overlooking the Eildon Hills.

For the optimal experience, tackle this trail on full-suspension steeds equipped with 2.3”+ tires. Optimal weekdays provide ample room to send features at your comfort level. As you shred, uphold trail ethics—yield to other users and remember to pack it in, pack it out.

As the birthplace of the UK’s first bike park, Glentress has mastered the art of delivering epic trails. The Red Route, in particular, rewards riders with a progression-pushing experience. Channel your inner snaggletooth because this place demands sending with steez! Get ready to unleash your skills on the trails that define the Scottish mountain biking experience.

Full-Width Image

4. Fort William, Scotland: The Witch’s Trails

Step into the realm where legends are forged, and one sector stands out above the rest—Fort William’s Witch’s Trails. This advanced downhill sector on Nevis Range promises an unparalleled shredding experience over 5 miles of rugged Scottish highlands.

Embark on a journey through a mix of bermed turns and tabletop jumps that lead you to high alpine vistas unlike any other. Brace yourself for seriously real tech features, including gigantic rock drops and wallrides that demand precision in your manual skills. Consider this Scot spirit-lifter a notch above dangerous, where commitment becomes the key to conquering its challenges.

Navigate your gear deftly through chokepoints, showcasing your mastery of bike control. There’s no room for error, but the total reward is yours when each obstacle is triumphed over. Get low, let momentum rule, and embrace the continual ramping up of black diamond challenges.

For this daring adventure, equip yourself with mandatory full-face lids, body armour, and Knobby 2.35”+ tires. Optimal grip awaits in the early season when the trail is dry. Take the time to walk the features first—this intimidating beast demands sending it at your limit.

Fort William’s masterfully manicured mayhem sets the bar high, and few natural terrain creations can compete. Summit the notorious Witch’s Trails, and bragging rights are forever earned. The choice is yours—commit or chicken out—in Scotland’s unrivalled domain of gnar!

5. Grizedale Forest, England: North Face Trail

Embark on a shredding adventure through England’s unrivalled trails, where Grizedale’s North Face beckons with challenging flow amidst verdant forest scenery like no other. This intermediate cross-country (XC) track gracefully carves 12km of sublime Lakes District singletrack.

Experience the seamless connection of flowing berms, rocky climbs, and descents, all linked by gorgeous wooden bridges. Uncover unique features such as the technical chute known as “Tesco,” leading to a gap jump named after the retail giant. And don’t miss the exhilarating downhill swoop through autumnal carpets of crunchy leaves on “Gravity’s Pull.”

Grizedale is a pedal-happy palooza, but remember to yield politely to hikers and respect trail closures during wet conditions to preserve the prized trail network. Equip yourself with a full-suspension bike featuring 2.1” tires, making it suitable for gnarly terrain while remaining enjoyable for all skill levels. Post-ride, refuel your muscle power at the Forest café with a satisfying pie and coffee!

Amidst the beauty of berries, bluebells, and spectacular woodland vistas, Grizedale rewards each lap with natural splendour. Shredding the “North Face” is a blissful journey through Britain’s finest. So, get out there, work up an appetite, and ride this flowy favourite—it’s a trail worth savouring.

6. Dalby Forest, England: The Black Route

Prepare for gnarly challenges against a backdrop of stunning scenery on Dalby’s Black Route—an epic, prog-fuelled bliss for advanced riders. This exhilarating cross-country (XC) track boasts technical berms and drops, spanning 15km through redwoods and rocky outcrops.

Test your skills with gnarly climbs like the infamous “Broken Glass”—stay awake on the pedals here. Feel the rush on flowing descents, including the bike-tossing “Psycho Killer” and root-strewn “Bender.” The fan-favourite “Bottom Line” will launch shredders airborne.

Optimal on 29ers with 2.3” knobblies, Dalby treasures its trails. Respect trail etiquette—obey signs, pack it in and out, and be courteous to fellow hikers and bikers. Seize the trail ownership on early weekends before the crowds descend.

Recharge at the superb Dalby Café, then do justice to the Black Route with lap after gear-spinning lap. North Yorkshire’s finest mountain biking offers rewards for grit—a stellar addition to Britain’s bounty of epic trails, all begging for your sends!

Full-Width Image

7. Gisburn Forest, England: The 8

Nestled in the heart of British mountain biking history, Gisburn Forest’s legendary “The 8” stands as an absolute must-ride classic. Unveiling a gnarly 12km loop of technical highland singletrack, this advanced cross-country (XC) trail has seen its fair share of riders launched into the heather since its inception.

The journey kicks off with a lung-busting ascent up “Indian Steps”—and rest assured, the hurt has only just begun. Navigate rolling rocks with nimble bike handling, embracing the flow. Brace yourself for “Blood Lust,” a thigh-shredding descent boasting massive drops and lips inviting you to Yeet yourself off at your own peril. Whoops, hip transfers, and wallrides aplenty keep the adrenaline pumping.

Take a moment to recover your breath before tackling the infamous “Bender,” allegedly named after the number of front wheels it has bent. This gnarly succession of roots and switchbacks would test even the nerve of pro-shredders. And we haven’t even started the final “6-pack” segment yet!

Prime conditions grace April through October, with 2.35”+ knobblies recommended. Respect trail etiquette and wildlife at all times. For bike repairs, the village of Gisburn is nearby—trust us, you’ll likely need them. Completing The 8 truly defines any self-respecting British shredder’s CV. Are you gnar enough for the challenge?

8. Cwmcarn, Wales: Twrch Trail

In the heart of the undulating Welsh countryside, you’ll discover the legendary Twrch Trail—a rooty climb that separates the men from the boys in the challenging terrain of Cwmcarn Forest. This advanced 11km cross-country (XC) adventure takes you on a never-ending gnarly grind through the dark woodland.

Kicking off with a manageable flow, the jeep track swiftly narrows, compelling riders to dismount and push their chunky steeds over log rubble and quartz outcrops. Traction is a challenge with knobbly 2.4” tires on the slippery roots, and boulders and switchbacks demand deft balance skills to ascend ever higher.

Reaching the forest summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over verdant valleys—a fitting payoff for your perseverance. However, the descent is no cakewalk. Ruts and berms whip riders down the technical fall-line at neck-breaking speeds, and missing your line could land you straight into the ferns!

Consider walking the first climb to scope out the punishing payload. Weekends draw larger crowds, so seize the opportunity midweek to flaunt your KOM status on this punishing local test-piece. Ride Cwmcarn’s legendary Twrch Trail and collect legendary shredding tales that will last a lifetime. Are you up for the game?

9. Brechfa Forest, Wales: Gorlech Trail

Amidst the lush forest trails of Carmarthenshire, behold the epic 14km slugfest known as Gorlech—a thrilling adventure through vibrant Welsh woodlands that caters to the advanced rider. This hand-built cross-country (XC) masterpiece kicks off with a spicy climb, paving the way for a series of jaw-droppingly technical descents.

Navigate rock slabs and technical switchbacks like the infamous “Rocky Road,” demanding snappy bike handling at the top. Let the struggle be rewarded with views over heather-flecked peaks. Brace yourself for the big hits—hip-shredding berms connecting tabletops and wallrides that would make Wizards proud. Flow seamlessly like the locals through “Twmpath Trimsarth.”

Late spring unveils prime pre-browns conditions for the optimal ride. Take safety seriously with full-face and chest/back armour, as a slipped pedal can have serious consequences. Show respect to fellow riders and refrain from riding when the trail is muddy to preserve this jewelled terrain. Opt for full suspension and 2.3″ knobblies to properly send Gorlech’s gnarly delights.

Post-shred, refuel at the Carmarthen Outskirts Café, known for serving the finest flat whites. Then, chase that pump again, hitting this Welsh flow trail classic until dusk. Brechfa brings the good good—get after it!

10. Surrey Hills, England: Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill

Experience an exhilarating blast of South England singletrack flow with the unbeatable combo of Holmbury and Pitch. This moderate 12km cross-country (XC) loop kicks off with a challenging ascent up Holmbury’s leg-roasting gradient, tackling it with knobby 2.3s through lush woodlands and captivating farmland vistas.

Prepare for the gnarliest challenge—the infamous “Holmbury Chute,” a treacherous rocky technical that has humbled more than one unprepared rider. But fear not, the big reward awaits! Dive into the fast-rolling Pitch Hill, starting with swooping berms and culminating in the iconic zigzag tarmac descent.

Feel the whirr of pumps as speeds touch 50mph on this iconic downhill stretch. Negotiate famous jumps like “Money or your Life,” perfectly engineered for massive air time—don’t forget to pack your pads. Cross your fingers for optimal tarmac grip when it’s warm, as freshly cut verges can yield easy flats!

Flow like a local, seamlessly linking the peaks. Late weekends attract company, so weekday mornings emerge as the prime time for sending it in solitude. Keep Epic Escape and the café handy for post-ride grub, refueling for the next laps shredding Surrey’s finest. Ready for the mission, shredder? Let’s go!

Related Posts