This Issue: A trio of lanes in Hampshire & Llwybr Ceiriog Extension, North Wales
Words and photos: Mike Beddows
63 – Pit Hill LN/Horsepost LN/Harrowgate LN, Hampshire
This five-mile route consists of three different trails just to the west of the South Downs National Park, approximately 10 miles north of Portsmouth.
You start by riding west to east along Pit Hill Lane, then a short loop around Glidden Farm, before heading South along Horsepost Lane. Proceed along a short tarmac section before heading east along Harrowgate Lane.
The lanes are well-used farm tracks skirting around and across fields.
Due to the farm traffic, they can be on the muddy side, but shouldn’t be troubling for beginners. There are a few ruts along the way and the odd shallow puddle so make sure you have plenty of grip on your tyres and go have some fun.
The trails in the surrounding areas are easy to find, just grab an OS map and take a look. The main benefit for me was the lack of gates. When riding solo, it’s always a pain when gates appear, so it’s a pleasure to ride around here.
The trail starts on Pit Hill Lane and begins as a well-used farm track heading through farmers’ fields. The track is car-width wide and pretty muddy, but for the most part unchallenging as it heads along the field edge. There’s an occasional muddy puddle, but nothing deep.
Take the left turn here and head north along Horsepost Lane (you will be going down the track on the right shortly). At the next junction, veer right.
You are now looping around Glidden Farm on well-graded farm tracks. Take care as this section is regularly used by farm vehicles.
Pass through the farm, turn left and head back down Horsepost Lane. You will meet the track you have just travelled up. Continue to where you turned left in point two.
The trail becomes slightly more challenging now but it still shouldn’t prove too difficult for novice riders.
Just be aware that it may be slippery in parts, so take care and you will be fine.
Proceed between hedgerows and then through the next field.
Continue heading down through the field until you hit an intersection.
Continue straight on along Horsepost Lane (you will be riding the trails to the left and right shortly). This is the best section of the trail. It appears to have zero farm traffic and very little other use apart from walkers.
It’s single track as you head uphill. It’s still not difficult though, so continue to the road. At the very end of the trail, there may be a large puddle. It’s not deep, but take care as you ride through it.
Short road section.
The final part of the route heads from west to east along Harrowgate Lane and crosses the farm fields once again. The route is slightly rutted, with the middle ‘motorbike’ rut being the easiest to follow. All ruts are fairly shallow but can be muddy and slippery so take care.
64 – Llwybr Ceiriog Extension, North Wales
This route is another fantastic extension to the already previously documented trails in North Wales. In previous editions, several routes have been documented and slowly these have been linked together to form a good few hours of trail riding in the surrounding areas (for info, issues 10, 12, 22, 28, 31 and 39 all have trails that can be linked).
The route here is an extension to Llwybr Ceiriog trails detailed in ABR issue 28.
Please be aware that the section between points 8 – 11 on the map is ‘ride at your own discretion’. On the OS map, it is not marked as a byway (red crosses on a 1-50K OS map) or other route with public access (white road with red dots on a 1-50K OS map).
Normally I wouldn’t even ride a lane that isn’t marked correctly on the OS map, but on the ground, at point eight there is a large sign stating: “No through road for vehicles, access to Coed Cottage only”.
But in small print under this sign is another notice stating that after the cottage the route becomes narrow and is only suitable for walkers, cyclists, horses and motorcycles and that four-wheel drive vehicles should turn around.
The sign specifically states it’s suitable for motorbikes. This in my eyes makes it legal. I have checked trailwise website and there are question marks under all modes of transport including motorbikes.
Regardless, due to the fact there is a sign stating it is suitable for bikes, no locked gates or other visual indicators to highlight it is illegal, so I always ride this trail when in the area. Be aware though, that this section is not for beginners, it’s a tight, single track and passes a firing range.
Always stop at the gate if you see a red flag flying or hear gunfire. Do not proceed. I’ve never seen a red flag flying, but there are signs along the trails.
This section is a single-track tarmac road. Once you pass the houses at point two the road turns into trail.
Proceed uphill along a hard, compact base with some grass growing in the middle. It’s easy-going between trees and hedges separating farmers’ fields. There are a few puddles when it levels out and the trail appears to be a well-used by farm vehicles. There’s no mud at all, just hard, compact gravel stone base. There are also good views of rolling Welsh countryside as you ride along.
Cross over the road. Go straight on. It’s tarmacked to start with, proceed round the right-hand bend, downhill for a couple hundred metres and you will see the trail forking off to the left. Another easy, well used, hard compacted trail with grass growing in the middle.
There are a few puddles where the trail levels, but none are deep or troublesome. You are now traversing a hillside between fields with great views of the valley to the right. Keep heading down under trees. You will see the tarmac road approaching. Take care when you get to it as it’s possible to build speed on this section.
Short road section.
There’s a sign stating unsuitable for vehicles. Head down the tarmac for a short distance between houses. Continue straight into the trail after you pass the houses. There’s lots of grass growing in the middle, with hard compact tracks either side. Head downhill between overgrown hedges.
The trail becomes a bit trickier now and is pretty torn up with lots of loose material. Take care. It becomes a bit tighter and narrow as you proceed towards the ford at the bottom. There’s a nice shallow ford which denotes the boundary between England and Wales.
This is my favourite section. It’s very overgrown and narrow and it would be impossible to do this section on anything but a bike. You will be ducking under tree branches (nothing too serious to stop you riding the trail), but there’s still a solid base with a bit of mud thrown on top for good measure and it feels like you are in a jungle at points.
Then it gets very narrow. On my KTM 950 my legs were touching both sides of the bank in one section. No wide panniers, or wide luggage, will make it through this section. Continue up to where the road forks, passing a derelict house on the right.
Turn left, through the gate and proceed to the cottage on the right. It’s a well-used 4×4 access track for the house at the end, hard compact, no ruts, but grass growing in the middle. Pass the entrance to the house on the right and the trail turns to singletrack.
Lots of overgrown vegetation and low hanging branches. Keep on going, at times it’s hard to see the floor, but it does eventually open up. Proceed through the next gate, you are now entering the firing range territory.
Continue along much of the same, single track between trees. It gets pretty tight against a barbed-wire fence. Continue to the next gate. You won’t be getting much speed up, especially on any big adventure bikes.
After the gate, the trail opens up again. It becomes an overgrown lane. You will soon pass some houses on the left. The remainder of the track is hard compact which soon turns into tarmac. All the while below trees so take care as the road can be very slippery.