Once the magazine Mountain Biking UK applies the label “Trail of the year” to a place, a visit becomes inevitable. Fortunately, said place is Swinley Forest. A mere 50 minutes train ride from central London.
On route there, the excitement rapidly builds as the heavily populated sights of London give way to thick green forest. Stepping off the train at Martins Heron station you already feel invigorated as you take in your first fresh breath of air and the lungs clear. After a short ride along the cycle path you pull into the forest.
The Lookout visitor centre is the place to buy the £2 day pass as well as top up on drink and water. Once those formalities are out the way the ride begins.
Swinley Forest GPS route
To follow the Swinley Forest route you can use one of the GPS files below on your iPhone, Android or other Smartphone or Garmin GPS unit.
For instructions on how to use the files see the London Cycle Routes eBook help page.
Swinley Forest PDF route map
Next Wednesday I’ll be launching a new version of the London Cycle Routes eBook with five new routes. As a sample of the new eBook I’m including a copy of the Swinley Forest Route below:
If you like what you see, then make sure you grab a copy of the London Cycle Routes eBook. Version 3 will magically appear in your inbox the day it is released!
Riding the Swinley Forest route
Whilst Swinley Forest can be ridden with a hybrid bike if you want to head off the main paths you’ll be much better off on a mountain bike such as the Voodoo Canzo. If that isn’t available then it is also possible to rent a mountain bike from the Lookout centre.
The route I’ve included takes in some of the best trails. With downhill sections, areas with jumps and unfortunately, yes, a bit of a climb on the way back to the lookout. It’s a fun ride with great variety. You’ll be speeding down tight corners, making your way through thick forest and clinging on down steep and bumpy sections. It also takes in plenty of different scenery within Swinley Forest so it’s an enjoyment of nature as much as it is the fun of mountain biking.
Thanks to the surface of Swinley Forest its possible to ride this route all year round. Although, you’ll notice some sections get far more muddy than others. Once you’ve tried the route and got a feel for it then feel free to explore other areas. Local mountain bike clubs are a great source of info and many of them organise the occasional ride for none members.
This is also a great ride to take the kids along to. Often their fearless attitude is exactly what’s needed for mountain biking. Just don’t forget to supply them with a helmet!
Finally, it goes without saying, watch out for other users of Swinley Forest. There are people who follow the walking trails and there’s also plenty of other mountain bikers. There isn’t a set direction you should go around the park, so they can appear from anywhere!
- The London Cycle Routes eBook contains more London routes than you can shake a stick at!
- Where to go mountain biking in London
- Voodoo Canzo first review
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.