Words & Photography Geoff Waugh
Fully paid-up southern mod, Geoff Waugh, takes on a tour of this riding gem within a short distance of London. The fact that it goes near his hero Paul Weller’s house is purely coincidental. Apparently.
‘There’s no mountain biking in London.’ How many times have us southerners heard that one? Fact is, no, there isn’t any mountain bike riding to speak of inside London unless urban shredding is your bag, in which case may we suggest a BMX would be a better tool? But riding on the outskirts of the capital is a completely different matter. There is a surprisingly large network of trails ready to accommodate the most avid dirt freak. All points of the compass have something to offer – north-east there’s Epping Forest, south-east has Penshurst trail centre, head north and the Chilterns and Aston Hill are waiting. But it is the south-west quadrant of land, roughly between the M4 corridor and stretching almost to the M23 motorway, where most of the really golden stuff lies.
The three counties of Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire brag the lion’s share of the riding and the geographical make-up of the land means you could be hacking through fresh and bouncy loam one minute, and up to your axles in soft sand the next. Your mates could be cursing the mud, while you are happily shredding some heathland trails that feel like summer never left the building.
And what better place to start a ride than what’s become the south-east’s premier trail centre – Swinley Forest.
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