Words and pics by Jon Swift.
Gisburn Forest has been a mountain biking centre for a good number of years, popular with local riders who want to get out and spin their legs and get the lungs working. Go up any evening in the summer, or at the weekends and you’ll nearly always bump into someone on a bike. Heights range from 750ft at the main car park to 1100ft at the highest points where some of the trails top out close to open moorland. The forest itself covers somewhere in the region of eight square miles.
There are three established waymarked trails in the forest, a blue, green and red route. All are rather more fireroad than singletrack at the moment but there are some nice bits of singletrack amongst all the fireroad.
What’s there now?
The fireroads and singletrack are all fairly well surfaced so even when it’s wet you’re not up to your axles in a bog fest. Whilst not exactly technical there is a fair amount of climbing, approximately 1050ft in the ten miles of the red route, again the majority of which is fireroad. This does mean the routes are fine for beginners to get around at their own pace without any nasty surprises or for more experienced and fitter riders to put the pedal(s) down in some nice surroundings. Fitness is more of a requirement than technical ability. The trails are all waymarked and there is a map board in the main carpark at Cocklet hill showing the three routes. There are also numerous cheeky trails throughout the forest which to some extent are tolerated as long as riders keep off the waymarked footpaths.
Blue route – 5.8 miles (0.9miles 16% singletrack) / 550ft of ascent.
Green route – 8.0 miles (1.8 miles, 24% singletrack), / 800ft of ascent.
Red Route – 10.0 miles (2.0 miles, 20% singletrack) / 1050ft of ascent.
A PDF route guide can be downloaded here:
Coming (very) soon…
Ok so far we’ve not been selling this very well, onto the good bit. Gisburn Forest is in the process of getting a significant injection of red graded singletrack with a bit of black thrown in. Volunteers have now built a full kilometer (as of mid February 2009) of twisty red grade singletrack with both climbing and descent with a few trail obstacles thrown in. Contractors have also started working on another five kilometers which is due for completion in April 2009. There is an additional five kilometers of singletrack planed for volunteer construction or by contractors if the funding is available. The beauty of what’s going on is that you can influence how some of the routes pan out. Volunteers have had fairly free rein over trail features as they’ve been building the trails so it’s a good time to get involved if you’re local (there’s a secondary benefit as well as every volunteer hour put in unlocks more funding). Once the first phase is complete the balance between fireroad and singletrack should firmly swing towards singletrack with somewhere in the region of 60% to 70% of the red route being singletrack.
There are lots of great-looking new trails due to open Summer 2009 that genuinely will make Gisburn Forest a brilliant place to go and rip around on a mountain bike. Watch this space!
Food etc. – The small village of Tosside is your best bet. There’s a bike-friendly pub there and a local store.
Parking – There is a bit of parking available in Tosside. Decent size free carpark at Cocklet Hill which is where the older trails start from.
Link to the Forestry Commission web page for Gisburn Forest:
Singletrackworld: “There’s also some DH stuff in there too. Here’s some video…”