Forest / Woods Mountain Bike Routes

Dob Gill Woods

Forests make up the bread-and-butter for many mountain bikers, and here in the UK we have no shortage of forest with mountain bike access. Head for the woods if the weather turns wet, the ground takes longer to dampen. Although, conversely, it also takes longer to dry at the end of a rainy period.

We include here all of our natural forest mountain bike routes. Trail centres are left out of the mix to enable us to focus on great natural routes.

All Forest / Woods Routes

Ullswater & Bannerdale Figure of Eight

Into Bannerdale
Distance: 
21mi / 34km
Ascent: 
1,130m / 3,707ft
Offroad: 
60%
Difficulty: 
81%

This Lake District route is a variation on our Ullswater & Boredale Figure of Eight route and takes in some of the best Ullswater has to offer. From our preferred starting point in Patterdale, we start the ride with the climb of the mountain pass, Boredale Hause, and traverse of Beda Fell, setting us up nicely for the fun and fast descent into Bannerdale.

A section of road brings us to the next part of the ride, a climb to The Cockpit stone circle and descent of the popular and awesome natural singletrack descent to Howtown.

But the fun isn't over yet, we have yet to tackle the infamous Ullswater Lakeside path, the marmite of mountain bike trails... will you love it or hate it?! Although this trail follows (roughly) the lakeside, don't be fooled, there are plenty of undulations to keep you entertained, and lots of rocks!

Borrowdale Bash

Overlooking Derwent Water from the Borrowdale Bash route
Distance: 
17mi / 27km
Ascent: 
774m / 2,539ft
Offroad: 
38%
Difficulty: 
67%

This classic Lake District mountain bike route starts and ends in Keswick and performs a full loop around the picturesque Derwent Water and Borrowdale valley. Despite being reasonably easy effort wise, the Borrowdale Bash includes several miles of wonderful technical singletrack and beautiful views across Keswick, Derwent Water, Skiddaw and the fells beyond.

As mentioned the route starts in Keswick (making it easy to access directly from the A66). The first leg takes the road south along the east bank of Derwent Water before climbing into the fells past Ashness Bridge and towards Watendlath Tarn. Birkett's Leap then drops you back into the Borrowdale valley and climbs the other side where it descends once again, flanking High Scawdel and returning north to Keswick via the Allerdale Ramble high above the west bank of Derwent Water.

Esk Dale Railway

Distance: 
22mi / 35km
Ascent: 
768m / 2,519ft
Offroad: 
39%
Difficulty: 
72%

This route in the North Yorkshire Moors follows the valley of Esk Dale. It is a fairly strenuous route but is technically quite easy and therefore ok for less advanced riders, so long as you have a fair fitness level. It is a one-way route rather than the usual loop and uses the Esk Valley Railway to return to the start. For this reason be prepared and make sure you are aware of the train timetable.

It is best ridden west to east, starting in Kildale and ending in Sleights. You will pass through Commondale, Castleton, Danby, Lealholm, Glaisdale, Egton Bridge and Grosmont along the way. Each of these places have shops and pubs making refreshments available pretty much anywhere on the route. You could even turn it into a giant pub crawl!

Hole of Horcum & Cropton Forest

Distance: 
17mi / 27km
Ascent: 
724m / 2,375ft
Offroad: 
74%
Difficulty: 
70%

This is a relatively easy route in the North Yorkshire Moors that takes in the impressive Hole of Horcum as well as Cropton Forest. You will find yourself at times crossing open moorland and at times passing through deep forest on a variety of terrains.

Most intermediate mountain bikers should have no problem with this route as there are no really difficult technical sections to overcome. Just nice clean fun mountain biking. Well, perhaps not clean, this is the moors afterall! Enjoy.

Chop Gate & Urra Moor

Distance: 
12mi / 19km
Ascent: 
592m / 1,942ft
Offroad: 
65%
Difficulty: 
60%

This route at the north part of the North York Moors takes in some breathtaking views across the Tees Valley. The terrain is almost mountainous in feel, and this particular route serves up a nice mix of moorland singletrack and rocky descents. Something for all to enjoy! And all this without being too strenuous for those of you who haven't quite got the fitness levels as high as they could be yet.

The route starts just below Clay Bank and gets all the climbing out of the way from the off. Once you reach the top it offers you rolling moorland singletrack before descending into Bilsdale. After climbing again and crossing more moorland it offers you another rocky descent before a short field section and yet another absolutely cracking descent off the Cleveland escarpment.

Ullswater Circuit

Distance: 
20mi / 32km
Ascent: 
453m / 1,486ft
Offroad: 
45%
Difficulty: 
62%

This route is perfect if you fancy something technical, but without too much effort because it involves hardly any climbing and yet it still manages to take in what is probably the best technical bridleway in the country – the Ullswater lakeside path from Howtown to Glenridding. Not only is the technical riding superb, it also affords breathtaking views across Ullswater.

The only downside of this ride is the long road section it starts with. The first 11 miles are on-road but this just serves as access to the ride itself, and it’s over in no time anyway and the scenery is fantastic.