In the minds of many, Shropshire is defined as much by what it isn't as what it is: it's not quite Wales, it isn't quite the North, it doesn't have any cities, or any motorways running through it. But that's not to its detriment. It's a little corner of quintessentially English countryside; a county of steep hills, close, wooded valleys and small towns which almost feels a little detached from the rest of the country; it's utterly lovely — and it boasts some astonishingly fine mountain biking.
Perhaps the center for any two-wheeled off-road activity is Church Stretton, at the foot of the Long Mynd — and with good reason. The riding here is truly exceptional, with excellent climbs and descents to cater to any palate. The Minton Batch descent, in particular, has been revered for decades as a mountain biking classic, but don't be fooled—this is far from the only exceptional descent that the Long Mynd (or indeed, Shropshire as a whole) has to offer. Two of the Tours here start at Church Stretton, and it says much that, although they're both substantial in length, there's very little cross-over.
Ranging a little wider, this Collection boasts Tours which dip their toes into Wales (Stone Circles and Stiperstones) in the west, and Worcestershire (Up to the Wyre) in the east, and they offer something for everyone from riverside family pootles to blood-pumping adrenaline-fests.
The people of Shropshire seem to have a natural affinity for mountain biking; a surprising number of world-class riders hail from the region. Perhaps the geography has engendered a natural desire to get out and explore the woods and hills of the area—you'll feel the same once you've tasted the riding that Shropshire has to offer.
The Long Mynd (which means ‘long Mountain’) is a plate which runs roughly north to south smack bang in the middle of Shropshire. And it’s a little slice of heaven for mountain bikers, for reasons which will become abundantly clear as soon as you roll tires over it.
This ride starts off by getting the steepest climb out of the way first. Carding Mill Valley is steep and fairly relentless. The corollary to this though is that it gains a lot of height quickly, and it’s not long, therefore, before you’re running along the tops, and enjoying the amazing views over to the west, and looking at the gliders (if the weather’s right).
Then comes the first of the day’s descents, and it’s considered something of a UK classic. Minton Batch is a wonderful slice of singletrack which carries you back down to the bottom of the valley and leaves you with a huge smile on your face!
Sadly, what goes down must come up, and the winch back up to The Port Way is scenic, open and thankfully not as brutal as the Carding Mill climb. Here the ride retraces its steps and heads down the permissive path just to the north of Round Hill. This is a different experience to Minton Batch - more open, and the wide grassy descent down to Cross Dyle (the saddle between Round Hill and Grindle) is phenomenally fast, if it’s clear! The feeling of wide-open space down the valley as you round Grindle is also fantastic. And then it’s just a quick spin along the old Ludlow road back to the start.
Church Stretton is the most obvious place to start; there’s plenty of food and drink available, alongside parking and a railway station. A great alternative would be Marshbrook; there’s parking at an excellent bike shop, Blazing Bikes - which is part of the Shropshire Hills Mountain Bike and Outdoor Pursuit Centre. It also has camping, with pods and the Station Inn pub is next door.
This Tour dips into a few of the glorious trails which surround Church Stretton. These ones, though, are somewhat less traveled than the renowned Minton Batch and the like to the south of the town. That's not to say that the Long Mind doesn't feature heavily, mind you - not does it mean that the trails are any less fantastic. The final descent, in particular, feels like a secret slice of singletrack awesomeness that will leave you giggling. And as this Tour is essentially three loops, it's easy to lop bits off if you're pressed for time (or weather).
Our Tour starts, unusually for riding around here, by striking out east from the town, to head into the little (comparatively) ridden Hope Bowlder Hill. Naturally, before enjoying any descents, they must be earned with a spot of up - but that makes the downs all the sweeter. And this one is a fast, fun hurtle back to the road.
Then the suite heads back through the town once again, to climb up Carding Mill Valley, which is a relatively easy going test of altitudinous resolve (it gets a bit blowy at times, but it's generally one of the less brutal ways to reach the top of the Mynd) before heading down the (again, ridiculously pretty) track down to Coates Farm, and then back up to the Shropshire Way.
In many ways this ride saves the best until last - the descent from the wonderfully named Duckley Nap is great, the drop to The Batch is also wonderful (and a little more technical), and the slice of what feels like secret singletrack past Nover's Hill and back to the Carding Mill Valley is the icing on the cake. This last is marked on the map as a footpath, but it's a permissive bridleway for bikes, too.
Church Stretton is really the only choice for starting the ride. There's a train station, plenty of places to park (Carding Mill Valley and Nover's Hill both have carparks is you don't want to park in the town itself), and there are plenty of places to eat and drink.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
This Tour is as interesting for its sights as its trails - it skirts (or goes through the middle of) some of the more fascinating aspects of Shropshire’s landscape, and dips its toes into Wales. Stone circles, weird geological formations, ancient forts; it’s got the lot.
The ride starts just before Mitchell’s Fold - a Neolithic stone circle which harbors some predictably extraordinary folklore - suffice it to say that cows, witches and sieves are involved. It’s an extraordinary place regardless; the stones aren’t absolutely huge, but the whole place has an air of space and openness about it. If you follow such things you might be interested to hear that it’s at the intersection of at least two Ley lines.
Next, the route heads over Stapeley Hill and drops down into Hemford before striking up the road towards Pennerley. Some tracks here head to the foot of the Stiperstones Hill and its extraordinary tors - they’ve all got names and folklore attached to them!
From here the trail does a loop of the Paddock (at the top of the hill to the west there are ancient fort ruins) before dropping down to Stiperstones village. More trails now follow a southerly route, into Wales and around Corndon Hill (stiff climb, this one) before you arrive back at the start.
There’s a carpark at Mitchell’s Fold, where this ride begins; you can also park at the foot of the track if this one is full. Other possible places to start this Tour include Tankerville or Stiperstones Hill car park. Refreshments (or at least a pub) are available at Stiperstones village or Snailbeach.
If you want to extend the ride, the waymarked trails at Eastridge Wood just to the north of Stiperstones and west of Snailbeach are truly exceptional and are well worth a trip.
This is one of those rides which can go on for much longer if you want it to - a couple of locations are also home to a variety of fantastic trails for a variety of disciplines - Ribbesford hosts some DH orientated trails (although many of them are rideable by mere mortals) and Wyre Forest has a selection of more XC loops for your delectation.
This ride is a fine way to string the locations together, though, for a more XC ride with a flavor of the terrain on offer. The ride starts at Great Whitley at the foot of Abberley Hill. A very stiff climb (probably a push, let's be honest) follows before the ride crests and starts to run along the ridge of the hill.
Shortly, it joins the Worcestershire Way, and heads up north along some beautiful rolling countryside (with - to be fair - a preponderance of up) to Bliss Gate and the descent to Lye Head. A short bit of road follows before the route hits the Wyre Forest.
Although this Tour mostly sticks to the main tracks, there are quite a few other trails in here just ripe for exploring, and it's well worth doing so if you've got the time. There's also a Go Ape if you've a heart for heights. Afterwards, the forest cafe does a mean bacon sarnie if you're in the need of refueling.
The Tour then heads through Bewdley, a pretty Georgian town before taking a detour up to the top of Ribbesford Bike Park. There are a few trails here; the one the Tour follows is called Rib Tickler, and is a flowing natural downhill trail; it's a blast from top to bottom, and is well worth the climb up from the river.
There's a spot of road riding now before the route takes in Dunley, and heads steeply uphill to climb through Birch Hall and Netherton House. It retraces its steps here somewhat before heading back along the main road and back to your starting point.
This Tour can be started from a variety of places. Great Whitley is a sleepy village with a good pub and plenty of parking; if you're coming by train Bewdley I the natural starting point. There's also parking (ant the visitor's center) at Wyre Forest too.
Refreshments-wise there are plenty of places to stop en-route. The Forest cafe at Wye Forest does a good bacon sandwich; there are ample opportunities in Bewdley itself, and there are pubs and corner stores at several other places en-route.
If you're after a route which doesn't tax the legs or the lungs too much, then this is it. A pretty, short amble through some lovely countryside, with plenty of places to stop for a snack or a drink. This route just outside Ludlow is a perfect place to take a family on a brief off-road jaunt without taxing them too much. It's also perfect if you've done a huge ride the day before, and you can't contemplate any more hills - but you still need to get out!
From the start, the route follows a bridlepath just to one side of the busy A49, before running down a trail to Burway Farm. The track from here to Ludlow is well surfaced, and it's an easy spin over to Dinham Wier.
There's a steady, pretty easy climb next, ending in a great fun descent off the edge - not difficult, but a great reward for all that climbing! The delights of Oakly Park now await before a gentle run back down to Bromfield.
Parking is perhaps slightly easier in Bromfield than the center of Ludlow itself, although it's just as possible to start at Dinham Weir. Ludlow is, of course, the best bet for refreshments, food or pretty much anything else. And Ludlow is also blessed with a train station.
The somewhat strangely named Clee Hills (for there are a few - it's very confusing) offer locals some excellent opportunities for cross-country style riding. By which I mean substantial distance, plenty of climbs, good views and rewarding natural descents.
This ride is three loops long, and as such, it can conveniently be split up if time or leg muscles dictate.
All things must start, and this ride starts in Cleeton St Mary - a tiny village built along a pretty, quiet lane, just north of Titterstone Clee Hill. From here, the route describes a gentle arc northward along Callow Lane before reaching Bromdon. A spot of road work ensues, followed by some fun tracks up to Burwearton Pole, and the descent at The Five Springs down the side of Clee Liberty.
Another loop here starts at Cockshutford down to Bouldon, skirting Clee St Margaret, and picking up the track to Clee Burf's Navigational Relay Station, before dropping down The Toot and winding its way back to the start.
This ride starts in Cleeton St Mary, but there's no reason it can't start in any of the other settlements; there's little to choose between them except perhaps proximity to Ludlow.
In terms of refreshment stops, there is a pub in Wheathill (the Three Horseshoes) and another in Bouldon (the 'Tally Ho'), but the rest of the route is startlingly dry; there is nowhere for refreshments in either Cleeton St Mary or Clee St Margaret, so it's a good idea to stock up before you leave.
Just south of the amusingly-named Clun is a wonderful cornucopia of trails, and of course the marvellous Hopton Wood. As it stands, this route is not particularly technical, despite the terrain. It's a smooth blend of doubletrack, relatively straightforward singletrack and the odd bit of tarmac - but there's plenty of scope to spice it up should you feel the need.
The ride starts off with a climb that skirts Rock Hill and Cefn Hepreas, before heading past New Invention and Garn Bank, contouring along to Tueshill (enjoy the views), dropping down to the road again and then beginning the climb up through Bucknell Hill to Hopton Wood.
If you've a mind to do a little more riding, the waymarked trails here, both in Bucknell Hill and Hopton Wood, are some of the finest in the country, and are available to suit a wide array of mountain biking palates. They're all fairly rooty, though! But if you're not pooped from the rest of this route, and you're aching for something a little more technical, then this lot will certainly fit the bill!
Clun is the obvious place to start and stop; a fine array of pubs and plenty of places to park are yours to peruse. There's also a carpark at Hopton Woods, although there are no amenities available beyond a few puddles.