Ride-Up: Hamsterley Forest

Long story short

Quite possibly the most fun I have had on my bike within England. The 14.5 mile red loop climbs just shy of 1,900 feet with a few brilliant descents mixed in for good measure. The first 6 miles or so is a lot of firetrack work but it serves as a good scenic warm up for the singletrack to come.

Review

It has been a little while since my last Ride-Up, through the combination of being back at university and general bad weather I haven’t been riding much either! Last weekend we planned to drive up to Hamsterley Forest for a blast around the trails, regardless of the weather we knew it would be a good ride. The drive up from Sheffield took around two and a half hours including a stop at Scotch Corner for some sausage rolls and coffee. Parking for the day in a car was £6 then after a quick look at the trail maps we were good to go.

As I mentioned before the first 6 miles is generally all wide firetrack, a lot of this trail is shared between walkers and cyclists so save your energy for going fast on the descents in the second half of the ride. In the couple of days leading up to our visit the forest had seen a lot of rain and there was a fair amount of standing water on the more level firetracks but it wasn’t anything that would cause you to get seriously wet. Due to the standing water and the occasional shower I wasn’t able to film anything from this trip but I will be going back in the future!

One notable climb in the first half of the ride was the ‘Exposed Moor Climb’, this is a loose fairly rocky climb that reminded me a lot of some of the shorter climbs you find in the Peak District. The take away from the first half of the red route is the views, as you start to get to the top of the forest you can look out onto the moors and see for miles. Another benefit from this is almost all of the climbing is out of the way before you get to have fun on the descents that come around in the second half of this ride.

After a very quick blast down one of the final firetrack descents it was time for the first significant single track descent ‘K Line’. This is an awesome descent with plenty of fast berms and flowy jumps, one of my favourite in Hamsterley! After a short climb we were on to the next descent – Transmission, this is again an amazing fast flowing descent littered with jumps, berms and a few drop offs, keep your eyes up as it is a little looser than K Line but just as fun.

Finally it was time for Accelerator and Nitrous, these two might as well be one trail because the only thing separating them is a very short section of firetrack. They are more of the same but Nitrous has a skinny rock garden that you need to keep an eye out for especially in the wet because it would be muddy and slow if you were to fall off! At the very end of Nitrous is a bit of a split where you can ride the berms or use them as a little jump section, just be careful if you hit the final jump into the field because the landing has a big deep puddle that could catch you out.

At this point the ride is around 11 miles in and only has 3.5 miles to go, the route has a fairly long climb of 396ft over the space of 0.8 miles and finishes at the top of the descend car park, there is a cafe at the top of the car park with toilets and a place to stand your bike but they don’t have any flowing water so you won’t be able to refill your drinks here. Once at the top of this climb you have roughly 2.5 miles of almost nothing but descending, there are a few minor climbs but nothing compared to what has been ridden previously on the route.

The final descents are called Section 13, Bone Shaker, Special K and Brain Freeze. All four of these descents are linked together with little bits of firetrack and a short road climb but total to 1.2 miles of descending dropping around 500 feet. These last descents are shared with the final half of the black loop so they are more rugged and raw when compared to the other trails but they have a more natural feel to them and it makes for a really good end to the red loop! From here its back on the shared trail back to the main car park.

If you can get to Hamsterley at any time this year I would highly recommend it, we drove for around 2 and a half hours but it was well worth it. The combination of reliable trail conditions and significant gradient on the descents make Hamsterley a very reliable ride all year around.

I’m sorry for the inconsistency in the Ride-Ups the last couple of weeks, hopefully the weather improves and I am able to get out more frequently from here on! Thank you for reading I hope you enjoyed, keep an eye out for the next Ride-Up.

Ed: Although Kieran wasn’t able to get footage on this visit, you can check out the footage filmed at Hamsterley by another Dialled contributor, Adam Copley, here.

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