The UK has 100’s of forests that have become a mecca for cyclists the world over, here we list our top 10.
A wonderful place to hone your mountain bike skills, Leigh Woods is the perfect place to learn how to ride on singletracks. The Yer Tiz trail is perhaps the best-known trail and will provide an enthusiastic family with a formidable mountain bike challenge.
The woods contain an exceptionally high number of rare species of plants, insect and animals so it's important to stick to the marked paths, of which there are more than enough to keep any family entertained.
The quiet rolling trails of Shropshire are a great choice for a family excursion. This flat stretch in Worcestershire is one of the largest semi-natural areas of woodland remaining in Britain. With cafes and toilets, it's a place that's well-catered for groups of hungry cyclists, even in the winter months. The woodland itself is home to many rare species and flora and fauna, meaning that there's more plenty to explore.
With its lack of technically challenging routes, New Forest may be the ideal destination for family riding. With over 100 miles of well-surfaced gravel routes that are free of traffic, it's a place where you can feel safe with a young family that are yet to master technical riding.
The summer months are a magical time to explore the area as the newly born foals who inhabit the forest roam around. Just make sure to give them space!
With a range of cycle trails for cyclists of all abilities, Alice Holt Forest is the perfect place for the whole family to explore. With an attractive picnic area and a cafe, there are abundant rest stops for tired cyclists inside. Several steep sections lie within the forest, so small children should always be supervised. The forest is open 365 days per year to cyclists, and there's even the possibility to hire e-bikes inside.
Sherwood Pines provides ample challenge to cyclists of all levels with a host of bike trails from green (easy) to orange (extreme). For young families, the "Family Cycle Trail" at only 3 miles long is a great option. This quiet, well-surfaced trail harbours some fantastic views.
For those looking for more of a challenge, then Kitchener's Trail at 8 miles long consists of unsurfaced singletrack over exciting challenging terrain. This one is best tackled with teenagers with good bike-handling skills.
Situated in southern Scotland, Galloway Forest Park offers some of the best singletracks in the country. With a host of tracks of varying degrees of difficulty, it's the perfect place for mountain bikers of all abilities.
Clatteringshaws visitor centre is one of the main attractions. With refreshments and stunning views, you'll be hard-pressed to avoid meeting other cyclists in the summer months. The forest itself is a haven for wildlife such as red squirrels, otters, pine martens, golden eagles and red deer.
With over 100 miles of trails, Kielder Forest provides cycling variety like nowhere else. For families, however, the lakeside route that runs around the perimeter may provide the best option. At 26 miles long, it may require an early start, but the non-technical nature means that cyclists of all ages will have little trouble in mastering it.
Deep inside the forest, there are vast traffic-free areas, meaning it provides a great destination for those families who want to get off the beaten track on two wheels and explore further.
The longest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the Lake District lies within Whinlatter Forest Park. That particular track is one best undertaken by those experienced riders due to its steep technical nature. But if you’re a beginner, then fear not, there are plenty of easier alternatives.
Aside from the array of cycling tracks, Whinlatter Forest Park is also a paradise for bird watchers, where of particular interest to many is the Bassenthwaite osprey.
The ‘Y Rheilffordd' trail - which means "railway" in Welsh - runs through Afan forest. Perfectly flat, it meanders along the base of the valley, and at 32 miles long with abundant refreshment stops along the route, it may be the perfect trail for the whole family to tackle.
A mecca of sorts for mountain bikers, Coed y Brenin is home to the largest and the first ever trail centre in the UK. With routes climbing to over 400 metres above sea level, it can provide a stiff challenge to even the most accomplished riders. However, trails still exist for all levels and abilities. With accommodation and restaurants mere minutes from the trails, it's the perfect family cycling destination.
Whether it’s a weekend away or an extended week-long family cycling trip, then the forests around the UK provide an unending list of new places to explore. For those who venture in under the canopy, at Decathlon we stock a wide variety of mountain bikes in a range of sizes, perfect for all the family.