Mountain biking is an eco-friendly exercise that can offer a real sense of achievement once you reach the end of a new or challenging trail. The UK is full of great mountain bike trails with something for every style and skill level, with fabulous scenery and challenging routes around lakes, over hills and through forests.
Bernard McGowan, a qualified nutritional therapist and personal trainer, believes mountain biking can form part of an active, healthy lifestyle.
Thetford Forest, Norfolk
Thetford Forest in Norfolk has miles of natural singletrack and is a great mountain biking trail even during the winter months. The Beater waymarked trail is full of long, flowing sections separated by technical turns and drops into the odd bomb hole, some of which were actually caused in the Second World War by pilots dropping loads before attempting a landing. It’s easy to get lost in Thetford Forest, so always carry a charged mobile phone and compass when attempting this trail.
The Lake District
The Lake District is full of natural beauty with sloping hills, never-ending woodland and of course, gorgeous lakes. Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District and is the central attraction in a landscape that is just begging to be explored. If you like the sound of a route that is challenging but not too technical, opt for the trail that starts at Patterdale, which runs for nine miles and goes right along the edge of the lake.
For more adventurous cyclists, the Llanberis Trail leads to the summit of Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. Mountain biking up Mount Snowdon isn’t for the fainthearted, but the gorgeous views from the summit are well worth it. The mountain trail is steep, rocky and at times hostile, so taking adequate precautions in case of an emergency is crucial.
Gypsy Glen, Innerleithen
The beautiful natural trails between Innerleithen and Pebbles have high-speed singletrack sections interspersed with high intensity climbs up steep hills. These trails aren’t as well-known as some of the others, so they are often low in traffic.
The Dark Peak, The Peak District
The northern part of the Peak District is home to the 70km Dark Peak route that is known for its rocky tracks, which make for a demanding ride. The terrain on this route requires fitness and technical skill, so it isn’t for novices. Cyclists should visit Jacob’s Ladder, Rushup Edge and Roych Clough to really experience this trail to its fullest potential.