“Let’s do a weekend away!” your friend enthusiastically suggests. Five minutes later you are throwing out ideas: Let’s go coasteering! Let’s go mountain biking! Let’s go kayaking! Let’s go rock climbing!
Two weeks go by with no planning, and suddenly you’re leaving in two days time. You frantically book hotels, Google mountain biking in Devon and throw together a bag with far too many clothes for just two nights away.
It was thus that I found myself with a mountain bike between my legs, looking at a map of the signposted mountain bike trails and deciding whether I’m “hardcore” enough to ride the red “difficult” route.
I decide I’m a total wuss and I’ll ride the blue “moderate” trail first.
A bad decision. Whilst the scenery is beautiful, the route is slow going, without much excitement. I finish the loop. It’s time for the red route.
The ride starts off the same, riding carefully around parents, pushchairs, dogs but the pace soon kicks up as we start riding over slabs, through narrow sections and dodging tree stumps. It’s a test and I’m not very good at mountain biking, so I take it slow. Fortunately, most the local riders know different routes around the park, so the red route is quiet and there’s no pressure to speed up.
The ride is mostly downhill, though I know that eventually I’ll have to ride all the way back up. A nice little challenge for the legs.
In all, I spend about two hours at the Haldon Forest Park. Returning my bike to the rental centre, I’m already dreaming of my country pub lunch.
If you’d like a similar mountain bike adventure as part of a trip to Devon, then bicycle rentals from Forest Cycle Hire located within the park rent mountain bikes for £12 for a half day. The bikes are in fairly good condition, though the chain did slip a little.
You’re also given a map of the park and everything is very well signposted.
At the time we visited the small black “severe” mountain biking section was closed. For families with younger kids there are some really nice gentle rides around that anyone can do. If you’re a little more high level, then you won’t find much challenging about the park.
Aside from the rental centre, there are all the usual facilities, including a cafe, though being in such a nice part of the country, I’d probably suggest scouting out a nearby pub. The site has plenty of parking available and it costs £4 for over two hours.
The quick two minute GoPro footage gives you an idea of the red “Ride Ride Trail”. The song is by The Vicious Circle called Feels Like Home.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.