Mountain biking and cycling
Explore England on two wheels
ew things are as quintessentially English as cycling through the countryside enjoying fresh air and quaint villages with no particular agenda to follow. Today England is criss-crossed with the Sustrans National Cycle Network - cycle friendly routes that avoid cars, follow old bridleways and take the intrepid two-wheeled adventurer to places that would otherwise remain undiscovered.
For those looking for a more thrilling day out, the Forestry Commission is a government agency set up to protect England’s woodlands and has done an outstanding job in creating some of the world’s best mountain biking trails dotted all over the country.
A list of their venues can be found online, but highlights include Yorkshire’s Dalby Forest, which recently held the World Championships, and the Forestry Commission headquarters in the Lake District, home to the Grizedale northshore tracks and the infamous North Face trail.
Most of its venues have visitor centres, showers, bike hire facilities and waymarked, colour-coded trails, much like a ski resort. Some even have ‘uplift’ facilities to ferry you and your bike to the top of the hills.
The Minerals Tramways Project is home to seven fantastic family-friendly trails that criss cross the Cornish countryside, including the epic Coast to Coast trail from Devoran to Portreath. There are two bike hire shops within the network: The Bike Chain Bissoe , and The Bike Barn which also has accommodation.
The Tarka Trail is a 30-mile cycle path in Devon winding from Braunton to the pretty village of Meeth, utilizing an old railway line and crossing the river Torridge several times over pretty viaducts and bridges.
Named after Henry Williamson’s classic book ‘Tarka the Otter’, the trail is well signed, and suitable for most bikes. Cycle hire is available from Braunton, Barnstaple, Fremington, Bideford and Torrington, and a location list of the wildlife you might encounter – including otters – is available online .