A have just come back from a very enjoyable break down in The Royal Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire just near the Welsh borders. I had taken my mountain bike with me on the trip in the hope that while there I might get a chance to charge around some of the new mountain bike trails that have recently been created in the dense woodlands around the Cannop Ponds area by The Forestry Commission and various local MTB Trail volunteer groups.
I’d been itching to have a crack at The Verderer Trail for a while now, it being trumpeted as the best new trail in England, and rumoured to have the most thrilling of downhill sections anywhere in the UK. Well I can confirm that all that you may read about the trail is totally true! This track is probably the most exhilarating that I have ridden in quite a while. The fabled downhill section, (the Dragon’s Tail) is possibly the best fun you can have that’s still this side of legal! My advice is simple, go get yourself over there if you get a chance and ride the trails for yourself as soon as possible. There’s plenty to keep you occupied what with the eight downhill routes and the original FODCA to keep you going should you ever tire of The Verderer (which I doubt). Anyway below are the trail descriptions to digest and some maps of the trails to whet your appetites still further. Bon-appetite my MTB chums! Verderer’s Trail – 7 mile circuit Widely acclaimed as the best new trail in Britain, the ‘Verderer’s Trail’ a 7-mile all-weather loop which incorporates fast flowing flat-out corners, big berms and rollovers. Graded blue, but with some tricky challenges, the trail gently winds uphill before a swooping, flat top section and a brilliant (RED) descent on the Dragon’s Tail that will have you hooting and hollering all the way back to the cycle centre. Freeminer Trail – 2.6 mile circuit The Freeminer Trail (formerly the FODCA) is graded RED on the CTC classification of cycle trails. Designed, built and maintained by volunteers in partnership with the Forestry Commission, this challenging and varied single track can offer something to even the most demanding of riders, from tricky switchback climbs to rooty drops and hairpin bends. It is for experienced riders only and is suitable for off-road quality mountain bikes only. Family Trail – 11 mile circuit An 11-mile (18 km) circuit, with connecting routes to several local villages. Follows wide gravelled tracks and is suitable for riding all year round. Mostly level gradients with some short climbs and suitable for all ages and abilities. The route passes along the old Severn and Wye railway line, passing former stations at Drybrook Road, Cannop Wharf and Speech House. Remnants of former coal mines can also be seen at Foxes Bridge, Lightmoor and New fancy.