It may be drawing near to summer’s closing time, but mountain bike holidays are good for year-round experiences. Plus, when it comes to off-road trips, there is a strong argument in favour of looking no further than the British Isles.
The UK has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to MTB destinations, with everything from family friendly bike parks to rides that take you deep into the wilderness. We’ve compiled five of the best destinations for such a holiday that are sure not only to put your off-road skills to the test, but also help you kick back and relax.
North Wales is the ideal destination for a MTB holiday as it has a wide range on offer for all levels of riding. The mountains of Snowdonia themselves are a magical place to ride your bike and provide a ton of challenging routes to wet the whistle of good bike handlers, as well as plenty of camping spots and hostels.
It’s not just proper mountain peaks either. The forests around Capel Curig and Betws-y-Coed are fantastic areas to explore, and Llyn Ogwen and the surrounding shimmering lakes are ideal spots for a relaxing rest day. For gravity inclined riders, Coed Llandegla bike park and Coed y Brenin (the original bike park) showcase the very best trails in North Wales for all-rounders.
If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, Llandegla Forest is a perfect park to take the family. With all the castles, myths and legends to explore off the bike, North Wales truly has it all.
Not to be outdone by the North, South Wales is also a great place for a MTB holiday. The Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains are epicentres for off-road riders in South Wales and have plenty of fantastic riding opportunities, as well as campsites and bunkhouses. With stunning singletracks connecting vibrant valleys across the ridges of the Black Mountains and Crug Mawr, the area is a mountain bikers dream.
Like the North, South Wales also has some fantastic MTB centres including the renowned Afan Forest Park. There are some gnarly trails for experienced gravity junkies, as well as trails for rookies that follow a reclaimed railway track. With over 60 miles of singletrack, along with bike washes, hire centres and a café, it’s the ideal destination for a day out in the wild.
The Lake District is probably the most popular site for a MTB holiday in England thanks to its huge variety of terrain and large network of natural trails. There is a large concentration of these trails in the south around Windermere and Langdale, so these popular sites act as good bases for a holiday. The more manageable routes can be found in the southern part of the national park and there are plenty of accommodation options too, including everything from bunkhouses to campsites.
The national park is also home to the hugely popular Grizedale Forest. A beautiful spot full of wildlife and stunning sculptures, the forest’s trails offer great riding opportunities for all levels of mountain biker. Whinlatter is another must-visit spot as it has the national park’s longest purpose-built MTB trail, the Altura Trail. Alternatively, head further north into Cumbria to take on the craggy high passes around England’s tallest mountain Scafell Pike. These trails are more challenging and rockier so you will have to keep your wits about you.
A little further north is the border between England and Scotland. Hop over Hadrian’s Wall and you will find yourself in some of the UK’s best MTB country. The highlight of riding in the Scottish Borders are the 7stanes, the seven purpose-built mountain biking centres that house everything from gentle woodland rides to gnarly downhill runs – there’s a week’s worth of riding at each one.
Newcastleton and Glentress are two of the most popular sites and have a wealth of trails to explore, but there’s also plenty of riding to be found away from the dedicated centres. For the adventurous shredders among you, there is no better way to explore the scenery then by picking up a map and creating your own route in the Scottish Borders. What’s more, you can benefit from Scotland’s generous wild camping laws and save on accommodation while you’re at it – a proper adventure.
Berkshire & Surrey
The south of England is another haven for mountain bikers. Although it doesn’t have the same camping laws as Scotland, its proximity to London means there are countless accommodation and transport link options. The pick of the riding can be found in Berkshire, west of the capital, and more specifically Swinley Forest. A popular filming location, you may recognise it as a location from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts one and two. Well-marked, there are some flowing technical trails on the red route as well as an easier green route for those just wanting a simple day in the saddle. While down south, make sure to head over to Surrey, follow the North Downs Way and interconnecting bridleways, and explore the popular destination of Peaslake with its sandy trails.
Now you have an idea of some of the best domestic destinations, it’s time to start planning your next mountain bike trip. Dust the bike off, check the pressures and shocks, and unleash your inner Tom Pidcock on some of these gnarly trails. We’re now champing at the bit for a holiday too.
Words: Oskar Scarsbrook