Dalby Forest Cycling – Mountain Biking in Yorkshire

dalby forest cycling

Dalby Forest Cycling – Mountain Biking in Yorkshire

Up The Hill and Down The Slope

by Matthew Peacock

People often ask me: “Where would you suggest to go for mountain biking?” Top of my list… Dalby Forest.

Dalby is England’s biggest mountain bike trail centre, with a combination of family-friendly trails to very technical and/or endurance-based routes. The routes are all built with British weather in mind, so they drain well – you never get thick mud. This makes it a perfect place to go whatever the weather and you can ride all the routes one way. Most sections are bike only, so you should never meet people coming towards you as you cycle round a bend.

The best place to park is at the visitor’s centre. Here, there is a selection of places for the essential pre-ride and post-ride coffee, then off in to the forest… But which way

Well, that’s up to you. The routes all have colour-codes and very easy to follow – so you do not need maps!

“Twisty climbs with fast descents”

dalby forest cyclingThere are three main trails – Blue, Red or Black. If you’ve been skiing then it’s the same way they grade the ski runs. The Blue run is the family or first-timer route. The route sets off with the same climb from the visitor’s centre. It’s very twisty with lots of hairpin turns and although it’s not that steep you will be warm by the top. The route then splits with the blue route going round the forest on nice and easy trails, gently climbing before a nice swoopy, fun descent back to the inevitable bacon butty and cake stop at the visitor’s centre.

Total distance is 8½ miles and will take an hour to 2½ hours depending upon view/breath/food/photo stops.

The most popular route, the Red Route, is 23-miles of single track fun! Twisty climbs with fast descents and the odd bit of wooden north shore.

Think of your favourite bit of trail then extend it for 23-miles. You can compare it to a roller coaster ride on a bike! Don’t be put off by the distance. There are lots of short cuts that bring you back to the visitor’s centre if you can’t cope with the full course.

“The third route is the most challenging”

About a third of the way round you will pass Dixon’s Hollow. Here there is a dirt jump track and lots of elevated wooden ‘skinny’ trails. The requirement is for excellent bike handling and nerves!

If this sort of thing is your cup of tea – or can of energy drink – then you can park here and spend your whole day getting airborne and trying not to break your bike.

dalby forest cyclingFastest times are around the 2-hour mark, but if taken at a pleasant steady pace then it can easily be four or more hours out on the trail.

The third route is the most challenging. This is the Black route. Just over 6-miles of tight twists, steep drops, rocky gullies and plenty of northshore.

This can be ridden as a complete standalone route or by mixing in sections of the black and red routes depending on your time and ability.

Dalby Forest Cycling: Info

Where is it?
Dalby is a 1-hour drive from Leeds. Head to Thornton-le-Dale (just outside Pickering). Follow the signs for the Forest Drive. The road through Dalby is a toll road and costs £7. Parking is free. If you are using SatNav the postcode is YO18 7LT. Dalby Visitor’s Centre: 01751460295. www.singletraction.org.uk (Thesearethepeoplewhobuiltit). www.forestry.gov.uk/dalby(Theofficialwebsite)

Northshore: Originally built on Canada’s North shore these wooden tracks were built to clear areas that it was impossible to cycle through. It has now evolved in to any kind of man-made structure that bikes ride on.

Skinny: The very thin sections of Northshore. Often only the width of your tyres. Extremely good balance required!

Singletrack: A length of trail that does not allow passing and is often quite twisty. It can be anything from the width of a bike tyre to a couple of feet wide.


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