Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire
England’s biggest trail centre has such good riding that it’s been the venue for the Cross Country World Cup, and if you’re up for it you can ride the 6.5km trail that the pros used.
The blue route is ideal for novice riders whilst the 37-km red is a challenge which offers lots of singletrack and great views across the North York Moors.
There’s also a bike park, bike shop and hire, visitor centre and café.
Grizedale, Lake District
It’s not just the mix of trails at Grizedale that appeals to us (from the easy 3.5km Goosey Foot to the 23.5km Silurian Way) but the fact that they can be ridden in pretty much any weather – always useful in this notably damp corner of the world.
So it means that the Lakes’ superb natural trails are complimented by those on offer at Grizedale, ensuring that you can always find great riding when you visit the Lakes.
And of course there’s a bike shop and bike hire plus a café and visitor centre.
Lee Quarry, Rossendale, Lancashire
The actual amount of riding on offer at Lee Quarry is limited, but it’s quality not quantity that counts here. The single 8km red rated trail offers some challenging technical riding and singletrack with great descents, and it has a 2km link which joins a further 4.5km of singletrack at Cragg Quarry.
There’s also a trials area and a pump track, making Lee Quarry a top location for honing your riding skills.
Fort William, Scotland
This is as near as you’ll get in Britain to the Alps, with the UK’s only ski lift assisted riding; the Mountain Bike World Cup has been held here since 2001 and you can take on the same trails that the pros hammer down.
In fact this is the place to go in the UK if you want challenging downhill trails; but there’s also a great range of cross-country riding such as the flowing singletrack of the 19km Broomstick Blue or the technical 10 Under the Ben and Nevis Red.
Oh, and the views are pretty good too…
There’s superb mountain biking for everyone from novice to expert at Scotland’s biggest trail centre, with a massive 73km of trails plus bike shop, bike hire, café and showers.
Our favourites include the two 8km loops of the flowy Blue trail, the fast, 18km Red trail and the challenging singletrack of the 30km Black.
Beginners are well catered for with two short Green trails and a skills area, and for the more technically minded there’s a Freeride Park, which includes North Shore trails.
Mabie Forest, Scotland
Renowned for its superb singletrack, Mabie also has the longest and most challenging North Shore trail in the UK in the form of the Kona Dark Side; its 4km long and mostly made up of timber trails up to a metre off the ground and varying in width from 10-60cm.
If that sounds a bit too technical, head off on one of the centre’s easier green, blue or red trails (from 8km to 17km long) for a fun and flowing singletrack experience which will take you deep into the forest and offer the occasional expansive view across this lovely part of Scotland.
Antur Stiniog, North Wales
Another one for downhillers, Antur Stiniog has four downhill trails rated blue to black, and between 1.4km and 1.8km long; and best of all there’s an uplift facility from the centre which runs up to 15 times a day (it costs just £3 for a single lift, £27.50 for a full day).
The range of trails on offer means that pretty much any rider can have fun here; from the fast but not-too-technical blue Drafft trail to the serious jumps and steeps of the highly technical Y Du you’ll find something to suit.
Just down the road from Antur Stiniog is the daddy of the UK trail centre scene. Coed-y-Brenin has been providing superb riding since the 90s and is Wales’ biggest trail centre with eight trails, three of which are red and three black.
Amongst our favourites are the 11km Cyfflym Coch, a great intro to red riding, the 31km red Dragon’s Back with its fine singletrack, and the 18.4km black MBR Trail, which offers superb cross-country riding.
Add to that beautiful landscapes, a full range of facilities including bike shop, bike hire, café, visitor centre and showers and Coed-y-Brenin is still up there with the best.
A personal favourite of ours on account of the fact that along with an exhilarating mix of riding on red and black trails Nant-yr-Arian has a lovely mix of mountain and coastal scenery, wildlife (check out the red kites at feeding time!) and the opportunity to really get away from it all – once you leave the car park you can ride all day and hardly see another rider, especially outside the holiday season.
Perhaps our favourite ride is the Summit Trail, a 16km red with superb singletrack; although if you want to experience this wild corner of Wales at its best head out on the 35km black Syfydrin Trail, a full-on cross-country adventure.
Bike Park Wales, Merthyr Tydfil
Greeted by universal acclaim when it opened last year, Bike Park Wales has been built by riders for riders so you can be assured that whatever level of action you’re looking for you’ll find it here.
And best of all the riding is lift assisted (although you’ll need to book well in advance as it’s so popular); that said if you really do like riding uphill as well as down the trails are designed so that you can do that too.
There’s also a first rate bike shop and bike hire, café and a great buzz about the place which will have you coming back again and again.