Top 5 Mountain Bike Trail Centres in the UK for Beginners


After reading our blog on how to start mountain biking, you now have enough confidence to take it to the trails. In this article, we highlight the best mountain bike trails in the UK suitable for beginners. Anyone of these trails centres will give you a great day out and the opportunity to safely enjoy your new sport.

mountain bike on a trail

Ae Forest

Located near Ae village in Dumfries, and some of the best mountain bike trails in Scotland, Ae forest is a lesser-known jewel in the Scottish 7 Stanes mountain bike trail centres. Whilst Glentress gets a lot of attention Ae is equally as good but a lot quieter! Go during the week and you may have the forest to yourself.

Ae has both a green trail (5.6 miles) and a blue trail (8.4 miles) perfect for families and beginners. You will ride a mixture of wide singletrack and forest road that will reward you with beautiful views of the forest and river.

You can also get a glimpse of some more advanced riders if you take a short walk up the push-up path along the omega man (lower) trail or if you want to scare yourself have a look at the drops and jumps at the bottom of the downhill track. (If you do this, be sure to stay off the track and out of the way of any oncoming riders, when they come they come fast and are usually in the air).

Hamsterley Forest

Hamsterley Forest, located near Bishop Auckland, is part of the Super 6 (the north of England’s top trail centres) and is a very popular venue.

As a beginner check out the skills loop, which will get you used to some of the features you will find on both the blue and more advanced trails. The blue trail is a distance of 9 miles although halfway through connects with the return trail so can halve the distance and head back to the car if anyone is struggling.

Should you wish to try your hand at something a little more intense, 2 x World Champion Danny Hart has a downhill bike park there (Danny Hart’s Descend Bike Park) with a super friendly atmosphere. The top half of the main line and 4x track is possible to session without letting your wheels leave the ground as you build up your skills and courage. If you’re lucky you may also see Danny out enjoying himself.

Forest of Dean

Cannop cycle centre or Forest of Dean cycle centre is located in the historic Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

There are trails here ranging from beginner level right up to advanced. The two beginner trails are the family cycle trail (9 miles) and Verderers’ trail (7 miles)

The family cycle trail follows an old railway line, it can be shortened to a length of 5 miles using the Hickster’s way loop. Verderers’ trail is a little more challenging but great fun and very popular. There is also a pump track and skills area to have a bit of fun/improve your technique if you fancy a play on your visit.

Coed y Brenin

Coed y Brenin located in Snowdonia National Park is the original UK trail centre.

Coed y Brenin has a green graded trail named Yr Afon (6.7 miles) and blue trail named Minor Taur (4.9 miles)

Yr Afon is a family orientated trail that takes place on forest roads and takes in beautiful views including waterfalls and rivers.

Minor Taur is a great introduction to mountain bike trails and is also suitable for adaptive mountain bikes. The trail gives you the ability to escape back to the car at a couple of points so if you are new to exercise you don’t need to be intimidated by the full length of the trail, it can be shortened. We think though you may just end up using the escapes to loop your favourite section a few times.

Haldon Forest

Located near Exeter, Haldon Forest has a choice of green or blue trails as well as a pump track and a skills area to session and focus on improving your mtb skills.

The Green tail (Discovery trail) (1.5 miles), is suitable for beginners and families. The trail is shared with walkers and is also available for wheelchair users and prams with regular resting points it’s a great family day out.

Once you have conquered the Discovery trail it is time to move onto either of the two blue trails Spicers Trail which is the introductory blue (2.3 miles) introducing you to a little single track and some gradients or Kiddens Tail (4 miles) which is another step up from Spicers trails with even more single track and gradients.

So, fancy giving it a try? If you know of any better mountain bike trails in the UK please let us know in the comments!

In our next article, we will talk you through the pre-ride checks and trail essentials. Carrying out these checks and taking the essential kit outlined in our article should see you manage to get you back up and running for most situations avoiding that dreaded walk back to the car.