Ever since my first off-road forays nearly three decades ago, my bike rides have involved some pushing. There was always a clue in the name to me: mountain biking should involve mountains, right? As bike technology has evolved, the way back down has got way more fun, but the way up is always hard work, no matter how fit you are. There reaches a point where a climb is too rough, loose, steep or rocky to be able to physically ride up. Then is the time to push, carry and grunt your bike upwards, safe in the knowledge that the views and downhill will be worth that effort.
Including Snowdonia, the Lake District, the Isle of Arran and the Highlands of Scotland – these are my favourite UK "earn your descents rides". All require a bit of pushing and carrying at some point in the ride, but the total experience is always special.
THE classic. Surprisingly rideable for 80% of the climb to the summit, but a bit of pushing/carrying required.Ranger Path has a bit of everything on the way down. High …
A long and committing ride – there are slightly shorter versions, but no shortcuts once you have set off. Best saved for good weather and plenty of daylight. But... you are treated to the most remoteness of big Scottish mountains at their very best, as well as some of the very best trails in the UK. Technical climbing and descending, interspersed with quiet roads and tracks.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
A mostly rideable loop, with a few short sections of hike-a-bike. If it's been wet, then Gleann Gniomhaidh can be a boggy slog following a vague path.That and the true hike-a-bike that follows is more than worth what I think *might* be the best singletrack descent in the UK – just be ready for the usual Scottish water bars to hop on the way down.The Tour is a circuit from the car park at Morvich.
Four up-and-overs, all different in style. Only the climb up Honister is rideable, and even then, it's a challenge. Refuel in Wasdale in prep for the last haul. Proper big day out stuff, with varied and technical descending – each worth the bike-on-shoulders time beforehand.The loop starts at Seathwaite, where you'll find parking, public loos and a cafe.
Goat Fell is the highest point on the beautiful island of Arran. This route takes the most rideable route up, but the last section still involves some shouldering of the bike. The first section of descent will also require some carrying down, but once the terrain eases slightly, it's a great trail back to Brodick.The route even finishes at Arran Brewery for a celebratory beer – best enjoyed on the beach, watching seals play.
A loop from Staveley with two chunky hike-a-bikes sections.First up (after a decent warm up) is Gatesgarth. The descent down to Haweswater isn't my favourite, it's just fast and loose, but the views are good.Hike up Nan Bield pass to enjoy a great, varied downhill, starting with rocky switchbacks before opening out.
There are a few options for routes up England's highest bridleway-accessed peak. This is probably my favourite 100% legal option though. Starting in Glenridding, the worst of Sticks Pass is early on. There's some more hike-a-bike on sections of the ridge. The Dollywagon descent isn't a classic; stepped with big drainage channels at awkward angles. Once you hit Grisedale tarn, the descent is a natural joy – a mix of high speed and more technical sections.