If you have a mountain bike then you're probably wondering where to ride it next, maybe dreaming of Whistler bike park or other such adventurous locations. Unfortunately most of us have to make the most of riding in the UK, which is actually pretty great, and after reading this you'll hopefully think about visiting Dartmoor National Park.
There are a few reasons one would consider Dartmoor to be an exceptional place to ride mountain bikes*.
One, space and variety. An expanse opens up before you on Dartmoor, as far as you can see are hills, tors, rivers and forests all waiting to be explored. Bike down the side of any tor and there's a plethora of line choice; miles of unscathed single track, drops and natural rock gardens just wait to feel the bite of a tyre and the wind of your passing. There are trails on Dartmoor on par with many bike parks I've visited, and not only that but there is the freedom of mixing up paths and trails occurring so frequently that it's your own bike park to create. There's no chosen route for you, merely a destination, it fills you with a sense of freedom and excitement which I genuinely have not felt when riding anywhere else.
Freeride ain't dead. Here is a place where you can drop into gulley's, off tors, hit gaps created over thousands of years, there are even abandoned quarries if you're ballsy enough. My point is if you want to get radical you can, and easily. It's a playground for the brave and there's plenty of apparatus. The sheer brilliance of it is that how crazy you get is really down to how crazy you want to be, envision it and you can probably find it!
Downhill exists too, in the form of Gawton Gravity Hub. 5 tracks are on offer in this rock studded descent of the Tamar valley, flowing a path of adrenaline all the way to the bottom. Where from Thursday to Sunday the uplift service will whisk you back up to ride it all again. The team and tracks here are simply fantastic, care and love are put into this place all year round to change the tracks up and maintain them for everyone who rides them. A jump run co exists with the downhill tracks so there's really something for everyone here, be sure to visit it if you're in the area.
Yet another virtuous trait expressed by the open moorland is that one can ride for almost any length of time. I'm not saying you must embark on gargantuan epics across the moor, you could go for a 20 minute spin instead; or literally anything in between. Because there is such a density of paths it means you can customise your ride length to almost any degree, whilst finding specific trails is harder you're almost sure to come across single track, free ride and everything in between on any one tor. Wide open paths provide the perfect carpet to practice your wheelies, and rock drops can help test your suspension.
The final reason is that Dartmoor is simply a beautiful place to ride a bike. In the summer beautiful flowers erupt from the ground and explode out of the plants, creating a truly brilliant scene on the moorland. Autumn will bring a dull purple grey to the wilds of the national park, this brings a sombre mood and it'll start getting muddy up there. Whilst winter can bring snow, and it's great fun if it does, it will more readily bring lots of mud and can make some paths useless. Spring will start to dry out the trails for what will hopefully be a summer of shred. Views from the top of tors can have you looking at lakes or forests, or rolling hills tailing off into the distance ; the variety in the landscape is spectacular and makes riding on Dartmoor a really special occasion. You're riding on land that has survived thousands of years in a relatively unscathed way, most of Dartmoor was originally forest (the riding would be even better!), and you can feel the energy of the place motivating you to push your riding.
It's a truly special place for mountain biking and it simply cannot be praised highly enough, I hope this has you stoked to ride it!
For more information on the riding in Dartmoor then get in touch, we're more than happy to point you in the direction of some good trails, suggest a guide for the day or let you know about our up coming trips to this beautiful National Park!
This piece was written by local shredder Mick Turner McKinnel. If you fancy writing about your local spot then get in touch.
* Please only use approved routes for mountain biking.
Hugo and Tom are trail hunting fanatics, travelling around the UK to find the best and most beautiful wild riding locations for their mountain bikes. We write about our findings and provide professionally guided mountain bike trips to our favourite spots. We're also big believers in outdoor education for children.