Where to Ride MTB

Where to mountain bike: Trail centre vs natural trails and bridleways

Which is better? Smooth, flowing, groomed trail centre riding, or the call of the natural and unpredictable bridleway?

Over the last 15 years there have been more and more trail centres popping up all over Britain giving mountain bikers access to miles of flowing tracks designed to cater for a wide range of fitness and technical abilities.

Trail centres vary in size from large set-ups like Glentress in Scotland, which comes complete with parking, cafes and bike shops, to just a few miles of trails with a small area to leave your car. They offer enough riding to keep you entertained for a few hours or several days without ever having to stop to look at a map.

Go explore! So many trails, so little time. Image copyright Rachel Sokal

And in the same way the A-Z in the glove box has been ditched in favour of the simple instructions of the sat nav, for many trail centres mean that the mountain biker’s OS map has been ditched in favour of the way-marked trail.

The popularity of trail centres means that many people who ride today may never have ridden on an open bridleway or explored what riding outside a centre has to offer.

In order to find out what you might be missing if you limit yourself to one or another I took to North Yorkshire over a weekend to experience both.

The things I do for you lot…


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