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8 of the UK's best forests for off-road cycling

27th January, 2023

8 of the UK's best forests for off-road cycling

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Whether you’re looking for off-road trails to simply enjoy discovering new green spaces, or you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker and looking for an off-road challenge, we have found some of the most popular forests across the UK for you to visit with your mountain trike.

One of our most frequently asked questions from our Jorvik community is where are the best cycle routes to ride an adult tricycle.


8 off-road cycle routes across the UK

Forest and woodland areas are great places to find a range of off-road cycle routes. We have used search volumes to determine the UK’s most popular forests, here are the results:

1. New Forest, Hampshire

(102,000 monthly Google searches)

The New Forest is one of the biggest forests in the UK. It is a picturesque landscape with many charming towns and villages dotted throughout, such as Brockenhurst, Beaulieu and Lymington. Cycling in the New Forest is popular among visitors and locals alike. With over 100 miles of cycle routes, there is a variety of trails for everyone to enjoy. From family-friendly routes to more challenging off-road cycle routes to explore by mountain trike. Some of these include the Hawkhill Trail, Rhinefield Ornamental Woodland Ride and the Lepe and Exbury Loop. Check out the New Forest’s cycle route guide to check you’re on the right track.


2. Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

(43,000 monthly Google searches)

Sherwood Forest isn’t only known for its beautiful scenery, variety of wildlife and ancient oaks but also for being the legendary home of Robin Hood.  toThe forest has several walking and dedicated cycle routes for all abilities to enjoy, the most famous being the Robin Hood Way. The Robin Hood Way is a long-distance route, over 100 miles, that takes walkers and cyclists through areas associated with the legend of Robin Hood. To see all the different cycling trails at Sherwood Pines, check out their guides.


3. Epping Forest, Essex

(38,000 monthly Google searches)

As one of the largest public open spaces in the London area, the 6,000 acres of forest is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. From foxes to deers, to badgers and birds, the forest is home to an abundance of wildlife as well as a number of different kinds of ancient trees. Cycling in Epping Forest is a popular activity as visitors are able to enjoy nearly 300 kilometres of well-maintained, designated cycle routes. In order to protect Epping Forest’s natural beauty, cyclists are asked to stick to the designated cycle routes. There is an interactive map you can use to find the right trail for you.


4. Delamere Forest, Cheshire

(38,000 monthly Google searches)

Delamere Forest is the largest woodland area in Cheshire and is the perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts and families to have a fun day out. Visitors are able to explore several walking and cycling trails, as well as enjoy tree-top activities at the Go Ape adventure course which is also in the forest. There is a range of cycle routes that vary in length and difficulty; from smooth gravel paths to loose off-road trails, flat road routes to steep inclines. Here are some of the most popular routes:

• Whitefield Trail – 7 miles, steep inclines, challenging

• Delamere Loop – 10 miles, mostly flat

• The Beast – dedicated technical mountain trail


5. Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire

(24,000 monthly Google searches)

Cannock Chase Forest covers 3,800 hectares of forest and is a great spot for cycling because of its variety of trails and terrain. The forest's easier cycle routes are perfect for less experienced cyclists to admire the scenic beauty while cycling along. Cannock Chase Forest is also particularly popular among cross-country mountain bikers as there are a number of more challenging mountain bike trails for experienced riders. Specifically, the Follow the Dog trail is considered one of the best in the country.


6. Kielder Forest, Northumberland

(22,000 monthly Google searches)

Kielder Forest is the largest man-made forest in England, covering a total of 250 square miles, and has the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe. The forest has a wide range of cycling routes catering to different abilities and skill levels. One of the most popular long-distance routes is the Cross Border Route, which takes you into Scotland and is suitable for a range of cyclists. Kielder Forest's 200km of challenging trails also make it perfect for more experienced mountain bikers.

Beyond the forest's popular daytime activities, Kielder Forest is also a great place to spend the weekend camping. You’ll have the opportunity to visit Kielder’s dark sky zone, the second largest area of protected night sky in Europe, and go stargazing.


7. Ashdown Forest, East Sussex

(22,000 monthly Google searches)

Ashdown Forest is most famously known for being the inspiration for the fictional forest in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and is home to the original Poohsticks bridge. The natural beauty of Ashdown Forest and its range of on-road and off-road cycle routes make it the ideal destination for cyclists to enjoy a scenic ride.


8. Thetford Forest, Norfolk

(18,000 monthly Google searches)

Thetford Forest is one of the biggest forests in the UK, covering over 40,000 acres. There is a range of outdoor activities such as Go Ape, segway rides and miles of designated trails for walkers, horse riders and cyclists to explore. Thetford Forest is a great place for all the family to enjoy cycling. With quiet road cycling routes, off-road cycle routes and challenging mountain biking trails there is something for all abilities – check out the routes here.


If you’re planning a visit to any of these forests, check out our tips on how to stay safe while off-road cycling.

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