In recent years there’s been a big increase in the number of cyclists using purpose built mountain bike trail centres – the 7Stanes, Coed-y-Brenin, Forest of Dean, Cannock, Sherwood and the Surrey Hills are just some of the oh-so familiar names and destinations for keen mountain bikers around the UK.
The Chilterns also has it’s own purpose built mountain bike trails at Aston Hill, although for many of us mere mortals the extreme downhill tracks are a step too far for a Sunday morning bimble. But if you know where to look and have even the vaguest idea of how to recognise a public bridleway on an Ordnance Survey map, there’s a whole host of excellent mountain biking to be discovered in these here hills.
At around 30 miles and The Cafe in the Woods perfectly placed for lunch, the following ride makes for a lovely weekend morning outing. The trails aren’t testing or technical, just good old fashioned rooty bridleways, so the ride is suitable for all abilities. Obviously the tracks can get very muddy in winter and bridleways and byways are shared with other users including walkers and horseriders. Please ride responsibly in the Chilterns.
MTB Routes in the Chilterns
Bucks/Herts Border – Berkhamsted, Wendover, Cholesbury. 28 miles 60% off-road 40% on road
Starting from the historic town of Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire the route passes the castle ruins on its way up to Ashridge Estate. Some of the bridleways through the National Trust owned Ashridge Estate can be tricky to follow, so our advice is to just keep heading straight down past the common until you reach the gravel road, then follow that around and onto the tree lined avenue.
Cross the main road and take the wellsurfaced bridleway, turning left back towards the road on a gravel track. Take care crossing the road above the hairpin bend, and take the by-way on the hairpin descending down through the woods and across the field. The signage is pretty good in this area so when combined with an OS map should be quite straightforward.
There’s a road section up to and through Wigginton before joining the Permissive Bridleway through Tring Park – marked as a Public Footpath on maps, the signs indicate a Permissive route for cyclists thanks to the landowners. Another short stretch of road into a small section of woodland. (Watch out for the little play area towards the end.) The section over the road from the radio mast can be quite muddy for three seasons of the year.
From here you can use the back entrance into Wendover Woods to stop for lunch at the cafe or just carry on along the road towards St Leonards. The route through Leylands Farm is easy to follow with a fun, fast descent down through High Scrubs. There’s a large section of road through Cholesbury but the by-ways around Bellingdon are worth it and it’s a fun little climb up to Ashley Green.
From Whelpley Hill it’s all off-road and mostly downhill back to Berkhamsted. The bridleways and byways vary in fun factor depending on the time of year – catch them when they’re dry and hardpacked and it’s a grin fest all the way, during wet winters the ground gets waterlogged and churned up by horses and certain sections are an absolute slog fest. As a last little bit of fun take the ‘Public Highway’ over the A41 and swing a left before leaving the wooded Long Green section for a steep byway descent down onto the main road to join the Grand Union Canal back to the train station.
More cycling routes will be available on our Cycle Routes page soon.