Top 5 English Trail Centres – what are yours and why?

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  • Top 5 English Trail Centres – what are yours and why?
  • sofaboy73
    Member

    sofaboy73 »
    In England there’s not really any genuinely good ones, with the possible exception of Gisburn

    clearly a typo

    Gisburn isn’t really very good. Not bad if you live round there and everything else is soaked though, which is what trail centres are particularly great at.

    more an indication of the limits of the other English trail centres are rather than thinking gisburn is awesome. more best of a bad bunch with some good sections in it (hope line, down hill trails, home baled etc)

    someone above mentioned greno woods, which are great (and my local) but dodn’t realy consider them a trail centre per say. rest of the trail centre stuff ive ridden in England just doesn’t seem that great. that’s not to say there aren’t some great built trails eg wharncliffe

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
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    Stainburn +1

    It’s the only English Trail center I’ve been to that actually offers something unique.

    The rest are just inferior copies of Scotish/Welsh ones (either constrained by budget, volunteer time or geography).

    By English standards Swinley is quite good, probably because it had funding and a Rowna Sorrel building it so it’s essentially a welsh trailcenter, without a significant hill. That said, once through Seagull the second half of the trail is (IMO) as good s you’d find anywhere. In fact if you just cut out Stickler and Seagull it would be more fun, nothing wrong with those two trails, nothing wrong with those two, they just have a different (pedally) character to the rest of it.

    There is indeed a lot of good natural riding in England, buckets of it, but for me, personally, my top five purpose built MTB trail centres with some sort of facilities at/nearby would be:

    FoD – Can’t fault it, bit of everything from man-made trail centre, DH, off-piste, family stuff, skills stuff, great facilities and an uplift. It is definitely one of the best trail centres in England

    Tidworth – OMG amazeballs

    Flyup417 – Nice cafe, friendly folk, uplift, indoor barns for bad weather, easy to get to for us. It’s a work in progress, but we always enjoy our time there. It’s not BPW, but I suspect that, with a little more work, and more visitors, it will become one of the top centres

    Croft – OK, a tiny loop in Swindon. However, it is a wonderful little gem hidden away next to the M4 – brilliant for a mix of riders/levels/fitness and for skills practice. Not one for a big day out, but certainly one to visit if passing.

    Breakheart Quarry – the main line is just a short loop, but there is loads of riding that heads out from the quarry and into Stinchcombe/Nibley, plus there is a nice little self-service block, toilets. It’s something a little different and close to family for us so we visit often.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    I think I’ve only ridden 4 so in order

    1) FOD
    2) Flyup 417
    3) Kielder
    4) Grizedale

    England’s a place I drive through to get to Wales, mostly.

    Premier Icon scc999
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    I’m sure a lot of trail centers are made better with local knowledge of the off piste stuff.

    But if you restrict it to the waymarked trails (and maybe the handicap of car park cost too), what then?

    We went to Hamsterley a few weeks back and ride the red loop. First 14km was utterly dull. The rest, which actually had something other than dull fireroad and gentle path riding was really good, but overall it was still underwhelming. If the Red loop just took in two loops of the latter half, it would be ace – the first 14km is pointless on IMO.

    Swinley is good for where it is, as is Cannock.

    Only rode part of Dalby and it was wet so don’t feel I got a decent impression of what it’s like.

    Whinlatter was fun.

    si

    ahwiles
    Member

    local plug:

    Parkwood Springs:

    a trail centre, in a city.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Lady Cannings – as long as you only do each trail once and then spend the rest of your time doing all the fun natural stuff like Blackamoor, Stanage, and cheekies.

    England’s a place I drive through to get to Wales, mostly

    I’ve set off for Wales, but can’t get past the exit for North Lakes….

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    scc999 – Member

    I’m sure a lot of trail centers are made better with local knowledge of the off piste stuff.

    But if you restrict it to the waymarked trails (and maybe the handicap of car park cost too), what then?

    Yep, I think you’ve got to stick to just core trails- Innerleithen frinstance is probably the best trail centre in the UK if you include the DH and offpiste, if you include the 4 waymarked DH trails then it’s good, but if you just include the red then it’s pretty poor.

    Premier Icon simondbarnes
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    I’ve been pondering this all afternoon. I can’t think of a single one I’d make the effort to go to other than maybe using the first climb at Grizedale to head up Parkamoor.

    joemmo
    Member

    Don’t know you’re born, some of you lot.

    We went to Hamsterley a few weeks back and ride the red loop. First 14km was utterly dull. The rest, which actually had something other than dull fireroad and gentle path riding was really good, but overall it was still underwhelming. If the Red loop just took in two loops of the latter half, it would be ace – the first 14km is pointless on IMO.

    Yeah, Hamsterley is my local. The proper red is a slog, most locals start on the black and pick up the red half way round whilst mixing in some off piste as well. Local knowledge indeed 🙂

    My top 5, quite easy really as not ridden many:

    1: whinlatter
    2: gisburn
    3: hamsterley

    99999999: Keilder – never again!!

    🙂

    edited: whinlatter’s south loop swung it

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    jointhedotz – Member

    99999999: Keilder – never again!!

    Really? I like the Deadwater trails. Black graded climb mother******! Haven’t done the mad boardwalk thing, or the blue that has a sign saying “mbility scooters must be fully charged”, and the descent off the viewpoint on deadwater is pish but I’ve always enjoyed the other bits

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
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    Hurstwood, obviously.

    Only the one trail, probably a quarter of a mile in total, nowt technical.

    It is however bloody good fun and more to the point, five minutes from my door.
    🙂

    Apart from that, Whinlatter is excellent.

    Not been to Hamsterley or Gisburn since they were improved, so can’t comment.

    montgomery
    Member

    The Red at Hopton Woods is well worth a visit passing through.

    This thread just shows us how lacking in trail centres England is. We all need to crowdfund and buy some hills.

    Really? I like the Deadwater trails. Black graded climb mother******! Haven’t done the mad boardwalk thing, or the blue that has a sign saying “mbility scooters must be fully charged”, and the descent off the viewpoint on deadwater is pish but I’ve always enjoyed the other bits

    There were bits on the Deadwater that were great, IF we’d left it at that I’d probably have loved it. But then we did Lonesome Pine…..you climb basically forever, all the way up to the woodwork. Then you descend for 37 seconds and back into climbs. For the amount of climbing you do you get basically zero reward.

    I really wanted to like it but just couldn’t. There are some great bits though.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    darrenspink – Member

    This thread just shows us how lacking in trail centres England is. We all need to crowdfund and buy some hills. I guess there are fewer hilly areas owned by the forestry commission

    njd187
    Member

    Stainburn as a trail centre is average but as a place to ride mountain bikes its great. Stick to marked trails and you’ll probably be a bit disapointed. Get over other side of the road when dry and there’s loads to do. You have to work a bit harder to find the good stuff.If you don’t like short steep climbs back up maybe best to give it a miss.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
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    No-one mentioned Hadleigh – not exactly long but i suspect has more technicality in it (certainly per length) than many other ‘trail centres’

    Whinlatter is the only one I’ve ridden recently worth travelling any distance to, and even that needs to be combined with the Borrowdale Bash or something else natural for a decent day.

    Go to Gisburn once a year at most, even though it’s only a short drive away.

    Hamsterley is very disappointing unless you rip up the official trail map and mix and match the best bits of red and black.

    Did the final descent at Grizedale NF Trail for the first time in a while yesterday. Forgotten just how unsatisfying it was, pointless little climbs to kill your speed and even a gate!

    Premier Icon russyh
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    Pretty poorly served in England to be honest FOD is my local, I spend most of my riding time there. In fact I did the ‘blue’ trail Friday as I needed to do a quick loop. It’s pretty boring, sure the last decent is good fun but I would feel fairly shortchanged if I was comparing it to Scottish or Welsh centres. Cannock for me is horrible, couple of nice bits but not worth the amount of chavs in the car park. Swinley is somewhere I won’t grace with my presence again. Gisburn was good fun the few times I have been so probably my favourite English centre… luckily in Gloucestershire we have some excellent off piste riding or are a stone throw away from the South Wales centres. Think I would of given up if I only rode English trail centres

    natrix
    Member

    Swinley is quite good, probably because it had funding and a Rowna Sorrel building it

    Actually, a lot of the Swinley trails were built by volunteers a long time before Mr Sorrel turned up……………..

    fingerbang
    Member

    I’ve not ridden anything south of Cannock chase, but my favourite two are Kielder and whinlatter.

    I rode Kielder a few years ago and did the second ever gravity enduro there and thought it was great
    Some great descents

    ferrals
    Member

    I really enjoyed Cannock and Dalby but have only raced there so don’t know how much was trail centre and how much wasn’t. I think the whole dalby xc course is one of the trail centre loops though?

    The only english trail centre I’ve ridden ‘as a trail centre’ is QECP. I love it, the red rides very much like an xc race course, lots of ups and downs.

    Premier Icon colournoise
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    Whinlatter – bit of everything and great views (also one of the best trail centre blues in the UK).

    Stainburn – short but totally different to everything else in trail centre terms. Great for sessioning skills.

    Hamsterley – ignore the big flat loop bit out the back and the rest is good fun.

    Cannock – given the terrain it’s a really well thought out and built set of trails. A bit short on tech but big on swoopy fun.

    Wakerley – might be very short, pretty flat and not really a fully fledged trail centre, but it is only 15 minutes ride through the woods from my front door…

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