Cumbria is a mecca for mountain biking! DVCC currently has a small number of active mountain bikers along with a sub set of road riders who, when the roads are icy or covered with snow, will dust off a mountain or cyclo cross bike and take to the forests and green lanes.
The local riding can be loosely classed as either “natural” or “trail”, with the former taking advantage of miles of bridle ways, foot paths and fell-side that cover Cumbria and the latter on purpose built man-made routes, often run by the Forestry Commission.
Some of the best riding in the UK is readily accessible from the Derwent Valley. Highlights from East to West are as follows;
Helvellyn and Thirlmere – low or high level routes ranging from forest trails, the Old coach road under Clough Head and the “hike-a-bike” to the high level ridge of Helvellyn itself
The Skiddaw Massif – wide variety of cross country tours of the range, with many shorter routes to the summits of Lattrigg, Dodd and Skiddaw
Borrowdale – home of the famous “Borrowdale bash”, can be extended to include Walla crag
Buttermere and the Whinlatter area – with good access from Cockermouth there are lots of trails to explore!
Setmurthy woods – to the east of Cockermouth near Embleton, a combination of forest trails and enthusiast-built downhill tracks for hard-core downhill mountain bikers. This is not without controversy – http://www.4playcycles.co.uk/4play-news/2017/7/24/the-great-setmurthy-woods-debate
Whinlatter is the local trail centre and certainly “puts the mountain in mountain biking”! The Altura trail is 19km long and has some challenging technical rocky sections. The North and South sections both start with long climbs followed by fast, flowing descents mostly on single track. Less technical riders can still have fun, either on the 7.5km long Quercus blue, or by walking the harder sections of the red. There are also miles of forest track to explore. https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-8z4eet
While the Derwent Valley is awesome we concede that one or two other places nearby are also worth visiting! On the natural front, we strongly rate the Howgills for big high level routes and the South Lakes for sheer variety and quality. For trail centres we are positively spoilt, here are our favourites with completely subjective ratings (*** = if you are passing, **** = worth a detour, ***** = special trip).
Ae Forest ****
Note that some centres can be combined to boost the ratings, such as Kielder and Newtonmore, Kirroughtree and Glen Trool, Glen Tress and Innerleithen.
Also worth a mention is the GNAR bike park at High Hesket near Carlisle for perfecting your free-ride skills. http://gnarbikepark.co.uk/notify-NotifyNonCategorized?aHR0cDovL2duYXJiaWtlcGFyay5jby51ay8=