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The Best Mountain Biking in Sherwood Forest

A Guide to Where to Ride in Sherwood Forest

Whether you’re a local looking for new trail ideas or visiting the area on holiday and want to bring your bike. Sherwood Forest has plenty to satisfy mountain bikers from the family friendly trails of Sherwood Pines and Clumber Park to the technical singletrack delights of the lesser known Watchwood Plantation and jumps at Mushroom Farm. There’s something for everyone in Sherwood Forest despite the lack of any noticeable mountains. There are still some tough climbs to take on however.

By The Great Lake at Clumber Park

Is this Radon making you jealous? Pictured by Broom Wagon Velo Cafe on the edge of Clumber Lake beside Hardwick village
Is this Radon making you jealous? Pictured by Broom Wagon Velo Cafe on the edge of Clumber Lake beside Hardwick village

Sherwood Pines MTB Trail Centre and the Kitchener Trail

One of the main draws for mountain bikers to the area is Sherwood Pines. Featuring red, blue and green graded cross country trails, as well as a bike park area with a selection of short downhill runs and jumps. There’s plenty of parking onsite (expect to pay around £5 for a day) as well as a bike shop and café.

Sadly the area does get heavily affected by rain with sections of the red, blue and off-piste singletrack sections becoming mud baths even in the summer months.

Sherwood Pines forest has plenty for the family too with an adventure playground, Go Ape treetop adventure on site and plenty of activities laid on throughout the year by the Forestry Commission.

For cyclists

There’s something for everyone in Sherwood Forest from the trail junkie to families

At the Entrance to Sherwood Pines

The Entrance to Sherwood Pines Forest Park and MTB Trail Centre at Kings Clipstone within Sherwood Forest
The Entrance to Sherwood Pines Forest Park and MTB Trail Centre at Kings Clipstone within Sherwood Forest

The Kitchener Trail- Red XC Trail

The highlight and reason for many an MTBer visiting Sherwood Forest is the Kitchener Trail. A 13 km singletrack route- It’s graded red and features plenty of flow to allow you to really push yourself but lacks the tougher features found at many a trail centre. It does make for a good hour long blast on you MTB although its lack of technicality means it’s perfectly ride-able on a cyclocross bike as you see the looks on those riding a full suspension bike as you fly past

The Kitchener Trail gets criticised by many for the lack of technicality however it makes for a great beginners red and certainly a fast lap will really test your fitness. As the 13km features barely a few hundred metres of fire-road you can see how it can be classed as a red route.

Those looking for more technical sections to master will be better served by checking out areas like Watchwood, Bestwood and Felley Woods as mentionned below.

MTB Geek Takes on the Sherwood Pines Kitchener Trail

Green and Blue Trails at Sherwood Pines

As well as the Kitchener Trail. Sherwood Pines features some milder options with the 10 km, blue graded Adventure Cycle Trail which features a mix of fire roads and relatively nontechnical singletrack trails. Much less work has been put into the blue route by the Forestry Commission so it is very susceptible to the weather and can get pretty muddy.

The 5 km green trail sticks to the more weather- resistant forest roads to provide a nice, brief tour of the forest for all ages.

The Blue Adventure Trail at Sherwood Pines

There's More to Sherwood Pines- Off Piste

Some of the best trails at Sherwood Pines are off the main red and blue routes. Divert away from the main waymarked trails and there's a myriad of interesting singletrack to follow. You could easily spend a morning at Pines without touching the red or blue trails.

Look out for the bomb-holes or head down route 6 where there's plenty of long singletrack sections which spout off as NCN 6 hits the forest from the south and there's loads to discover around Vicar Water to the South-East of Sherwood Pines. If you head out on one of Sherwood Pines CC's Sunday morning rides you'll likely be shown a few of the choice areas of the forest.

Sherwood Pines- Off Piste

For Enduro Style Riding

Watchwood Plantation will really help test your skills with Jim'll Fix It sure to put a smile on your face

Best Enduro Riding in Sherwood Forest- Watchwood Plantation

Nottinghamshire and Sherwood Forest are not renowned for being a mountainous area and whilst the bigger hills and challenges of the Peak District are a sensible drive away it’s nice to be able to ride out from home. If you’re looking to improve your downhill and enduro mountain biking, Watchwood Plantation has to be on your list of places to visit locally.

There’s no markers to show you where to go at Watchwood but all the best downhill sections drop toward to the A614 including the classic swooping singletrack and berms of Jim'll Fix It, the main downhill on Strava,

Watchwood's Best According to Strava

A selection of the keep downhill trails at Watchwood Plantation near Calverton
A selection of the keep downhill trails at Watchwood Plantation near Calverton | Source

Best for Jumps- Mushroom Farm at Bestwood

There's jumps at Sherwood Pines but they're nothing like what you'll experience at Bestwood. If you're looking to take your riding to a new level or nail some big gaps it's here you'll need to come.

There’s been a bike of a bike park out at Mushroom Farm to the North of Bestwood Country Park for arguably as long as ‘bike parks’ have existed. There’s a veritable smorgasbord of jumps, berms and drops for every ability at the back of Killarney Park community.

Access from Killarney park at the bottom of the hill, turning left into the car park and following the trail upwards. Of an evening you’ll often see cars parked with bike carriers at the top of Lammins Lane (accessed by Lakeside on the A60)

Alternately for those in the know it's possible to jump the fence at the bottom of the Burnt Out Car Strrava section in Bestwood Country Park and follow the trail upwards through the old sand quarry and through a gate into Mushroom Farm.

A Selection of Bestwood's Jumps and Berms

NCN Route 6 Will Take You All The Way to Clumber Park

Heading up National Cycle Network Route 6 to Clumber Park. It's a great way to access much of the Mountain Biking around Sherwood Forest
Heading up National Cycle Network Route 6 to Clumber Park. It's a great way to access much of the Mountain Biking around Sherwood Forest

For Families

Clumber Park has a selection of family friendly cycle trails to explore the estate

Maps and Signs Around Clumber Park

There's plenty of visible signage around Clumber Park to explore on your bike without getting lost.
There's plenty of visible signage around Clumber Park to explore on your bike without getting lost.

Best Family Friendly Mountain Biking Trail- Clumber Park

Head to Clumber for family cycling fun. With over 20 miles of relatively easy. non technical trails to navigate the cycling routes around Clumber Park are a great way to explore this National Trust's 3,800 hectare estate. National Cycle Route 6 also cuts through the estate coming up from Nottingham so there's no excuse not to venture this far North in the county as there's a majority off-road route up to here from Nottingham.

There are a selection of different cafe's on the site including the Broomwagon Velo Cafe by the Great Lake serving up great coffee and cake to cyclists and walkers. at point 8 on the waymarked routes through the forest.

Whether you wish to attempt the 5 mile long Lakeside Loop or combine a visit to Clumber with many of the local woodlands- It's a great part of Sherwood Forest to visit.

There's also plenty of riding away from the main routes to explore around Clumber. If you like to run as well why not check out the Clumber Off Road Duathlon run by One Step Beyond events every Autumn.

Bestwood Country Park- Technical XC Riding with Lots of Climbing

Bestwood Country Park is one of those places many riders will skirt over on the map and think very little of or maybe just use as a cut-through. Yet for those of us in the know there's some of the best technical singletrack riding in Nottinghamshire to be experienced alongside a big dollop of climbing.

The beauty of Bestwood Country Park is that it's less than 5 miles from the center of Nottingham and marks the southernmost tip of Sherwood Forest. It's a haven for dog walkers although they mainly keep to the fire roads which link short sections of singletrack that can often easily be sessioned whilst you're learning sections of the park or built together to form longer loops. There's so much singletrack in such a short space of riding it's possible to combine sections together to give you over a kilometer of singletrack at a time. For those riding up from Nottingham there's also plenty of singletrack beside Hucknall Road running north into Bestwood Country Park.

Sections to keep an eye out for on Strava include the testing 'Badger Run' which follows a ridgeline down to the old Pumping House after descending a set of narrow steps and 'Burnt Out Car' which will test how much speed you can carry through a series of swooshing bends.

If you're looking to test your climbing legs, Bestwood Country Park is cut into a series of valley with plenty of steep fireroads and singletrack climbs lasting up to a few minutes at a time of all-out effort. If you ride Bestwood a lot you're going to get seriously fit and a better bike handler.

Best XC Race Training- Harlow Wood

If you're a cross country racer or want to bring your skills up a level ready to race you can easily train on parts of the Harlow Wood course from recent years Midlands XC series. Over the years the Harlow Wood course has been praised by racers with some fast, rooty singletrack to aim to carry speed over and a few selectively placed obstacles to test your abilities.

For such a relatively small set of woods, Harlow packs a lot of singletrack riding. Just ride down a fireroad and keep your eyes out for trails spouting off. If you're lucky enough to find the fabled 'Inner Sanctum' you're in for a cross country treat including a nice log roll over to test your concentration.

There's even a coffee van parked up across the road at Thieves Wood car park so you can refuel post (or mid) ride.

Midlands XC Race Series- Harlow Wood

5 of the Best Cafes for Mountain Bikers in Sherwood Forest

Coffee, cake and cycling go hand in hand. Whether you're off out for a nice easy ride to catch the sun on a summers day or hammering the singletrack there's something about a mid-ride coffee stop. Whilst many visit the cafe at Sherwood Pines due to it's convenience the prices and abysmal sausage rolls mean there's plenty of other local options to choose if you're willing to venture.

Brambles Tea Room- Farnsfield. Arguably the best cake in the Sherwood Forest area. This is more a quaint tea room than a cafe and it's a level above. With some fantastic homemade cakes alongside some great food it's our top tip on a dry summers day. Easily accessed from Farnsfield along the Southwell Trail if you follow the cycle route to Bilsthorpe and then join the Southwell Trail before turning off into Farnsfield. Far better than the cafe at Sherwood Pines and well worth the journey.

Java Cafe, Warsop. In a great location on the A60 on the northern tip of Warsop village is Java Cafe. It's a combo between cafe and deli so everyone is catered for. Well worth popping down to if you've been up at Clumber. Follow signs for Shirebrook from NCN Route 6 to Warsop village and turn a right at the junction after Meden School and you'll be right outside, Java Cafe is beside the Carrs local nature reserve and the Dukeries Trail.

Blidworth Woods Cafe. If a decent bacon or sausage cob is your thing mid ride then head across to Blidworth Woods Cafe within the car park off Longdale Lane. Everything is cooked to order and there's a fantastic little community developed over there. Blidworth is very popular with dog walkers however also has some great singletrack to sample and is a stones throw from the downhill runs of Watchwood Plantation so you can earn your piggy.

Broomwagon Velo Cafe- Hardwick Village within the Clumber Estate. If you just fancy a nice coffee the Broomwagon on the eastern edge of Clumber Lake makes for a nice spot to sit. They do a nice selection of cakes too. They also have a coffee shop in nearby Retford to visit.

Beauvale Priory. A former Carthusian Monastery, Beauvale Priory is not somewhere usually mentionned by cyclists as a cafe to visit although it's location is beside some of Sherwood Forest's lesser ventured riding up at Felley Woods and there are plenty of bridleways to link close by. The Gatehouse Tea Rooms are open Wednesday to Sunday 10-4pm. Entrance is via New Road at Moorgreen, NG16 2AA.

The Broomwagon Velo Cafe, Clumber

The Broomwagon Velo Cafe beside the Clumber Lake on the edge of Hardwick Village.
The Broomwagon Velo Cafe beside the Clumber Lake on the edge of Hardwick Village.

Three of the Best Local Bike Shops

Whether you're wanting to look at some new bling or need a quick fix in an emergency below are a selection of bike shops within the area.

Probikes, Hucknall. Run by Scott, a former professional racer Probikes is a tardis of some of the best road bikes you'll see and want to spend money on alongside offering road and cyclocross bikes. Whether you need something servicing or a new set of wheels Probikes is a great place to go for all your cycling needs.

Tred-Shop. Based out at Sutton in Ashfield, Tred Shop is a great point of call for your mountain biking needs currently stocking Evoc packs and some amazing Hope gear alongside bikes from Whyte.

Sherwood Pines Cycles. It may seem a bit third-world in comparison to the likes of many a bike shop at a trail centre but Sherwood Pines Cycles is a great facility to have in those cases where things go wrong whilst riding beside the main car park at Sherwood Pines.

Now Get Out There and Ride

You've read where to go, now it's time for you to head out and explore. We'd love to know where you rate for riding in Nottinghamshire and the Sherwood Forest area. Where do you think is the best singletrack?

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