Long story short
A classic mountain bike loop through the woods, roughly 12.5 miles over 1,500 feet of climbing. A fairly tame route with a couple of faster descents but nothing too gnarly. Of the two trails, the Monkey Trail is the more exciting one. Not a bad ride but not worth driving more than an hour and a half for.
This is my first Ride-Up of a ‘trail centre’ and as far as they go it is a fairly small one. Cannock Chase is built up of two red runs with black options, personally I would say it is two blue runs with red options if the conditions were dry. When we arrived it was -2℃ and the main car park was closed due to the snow and ice, as a result of this we parked up on another road that was about half way around the first trail ‘Follow the Dog’.
The first four miles were fairly flat with a couple of exciting sections spread throughout, the scenery was amazing and once as had crossed the A460 main road to the ‘Monkey Trail’. From here there was a memorably twisty climb before moving around the plantation and finishing on a brilliant downhill section called ‘Filthy Monkey Part 6’, in all honesty this descent put the biggest smile on my face against every other descent in Cannock Chase. Once we had dropped down to the A460 again and crossed over we set off to finish the second half of the Follow the Dog trial.
The last section of this trail was again, fairly flat with no major descents but it was a good one to get the legs spinning on especially given the air temperature! After a couple of minor climbs and minor descents it was back to the car park for a flask of coffee.
I’ll be honest I am finding it hard to write very much about the route that we took around Cannock Chase. It was hard and riding due to the snow and ice but i’m sure that in the middle of summer it would be a good XC practice route. Don’t get me wrong it was worth the fairly short (1.5 hour) drive to get there but I wouldn’t travel for any longer especially given what is within a 30 minute drive of my house!
So I guess to summarise, Cannock Chase is a good reliable pedal about if you live within an hour and a half of it, otherwise if you are coming from further north such as Leeds or Sheffield I would recommend riding around the peaks (Here is a brilliant all weather peak district loop) or drive a little further north and check out the likes of Hamsterley Forest or Dalby Forest. I will be riding these both over the next year so keep an eye out for those!