Long story short
A fun ride that is more cross country oriented than other trail centres. The blue loop comes in at 6.5 miles with 800 feet of climbing and the red loop is 21 miles with roughly 2,000 feet of climbing. Often people complain about the lack of long steep descents but the red loop has a number of exciting drops and flow sections to keep you on your toes. People either love Dalby or hate it, for me it’s one of my favourites!
The other week we took a trip up to Dalby forest for a long weekend. The drive from Sheffield only took two hours (To Pickering) getting us in for 1pm, after a quick bit of lunch we got back in the van and drove to Dalby forest.
On the first day we did the blue loop twice, the weather was awful and the sandy surface just turned into a grinding paste causing three of the five of us to need new brake pads by the end of the ride! The blue loop itself is only short at 6.5 miles and roughly 800 feet of climbing. One of the best bits about the blue loop is the lack of firetrack, often with trail centres there is a significant amount of firetrack (Hamsterley is a prime example of this) but the Dalby blue loop only has around 0.8 miles of it, the rest being single track. The descents aren’t anything too exciting and the climbs aren’t too tough, I would call this a solid cross country ride that you can really have a laugh on if you push yourself!
The second day we took on the red route, this route is 21 miles climbing around 2,000ft. Honestly this loop felt a lot longer than it had done in the past, we took 2 hours 26 minutes buit we weren’t hanging around for a lot of it! Unlike the blue loop, the red does have a higher number of miles on the fire tracks, but it isn’t too bad. The red is similar to the blue in that it doesn’t have any mega climbs or mega descents but there are a number of exciting little descents that make it an enjoyable ride all the way around. Again, this loop is more of a cross country route especially when compared to rides in the Peak District or trail centres such as Innerleithen.
On the third and final day we rode a variation of the red loop that cut the full loop short by around 6 miles and 500 feet while still including the best sections that you are usually struggling with by the time you get around to them if you are doing the full loop. The route follows the usual red section from the main car park up until Dixons Hollow, after the flow section we took a right then a left onto the main forest drive, we followed this for just half a mile before joining the red route again. This shorter variation of the red loop was a perfect in-between ride to finish the weekend off, it gave us enough energy to spare to really go for it on the final descents that we would usually be suffering on I really recommend it! The only shortcoming to taking this shorter loop is you miss out on the views over the moors at the top of the forest but it does cut off a bit of firetrack. Below is an image of the trail centre, you can see the blue line near Dixons Hollow this is the diversion we took for the shorter red loop.
When it comes to facilities Dalby has everything you need apart from showers, as we were stopping in Pickering this wasn’t too much of an issue but it is a bit grim on the drive back after a day session. In the main visitor centre you can get jet wash tokens for £1.50, personally I think this is a little steep but you could get three bikes washed with one token if you plan it properly. The cafe sells all the food you could want but again is a little on the expensive side, it might be worth taking your own food and just buying coffee while you are there but remember I am a poor student!
I guess to summarise, Dalby is a great trail centre if you enjoy cross country style rides, it’s certainly a different type of ride but one I personally really enjoy. If you go to a trail centre for gnarly descents with loads of jumps, drops and berms this isn’t quite the place for you, Dalby does have all of those but nothing too extreme. You could ride here on a hardcore hardtail and it would be a really good laugh but I wouldn’t turn up on a full downhill rig expecting to have a good time. Give it a go, if you like it happy days, if not it’s still a day out on the bike and that’s never a bad thing!