ABR’s green lane expert, Mike Beddows, details a beginner-friendly route in North Wales and an exciting, gnarly trail in North Yorkshire
34 Llwybr Ceiriog Trail, North Wales
2 miles | Wow factor ✪✪✪✪✪
This is a great beginner’s trail near the popular tourist town of Llangollen in North Wales It’s fairly straightforward, but the final part is quite steep so it may rule complete beginners out. The views from the top looking back down towards Llangollen are amazing and from this viewpoint, you will be approximately 390 meters above the valley floor.
The trail starts at the top of the hill and proceeds down the valley side. Once at the bottom it shoots straight back up again. The start may be difficult to locate, so use the grid reference provided and look out for the byway sign that marks the start. There are many bilingual byway signs in North Wales, the Welsh word for byway being ‘Cilffordd’.
Proceed through the farmer’s gate. Follow a well-defined four-wheel drive track (fairly shallow ruts with a mix of stones and a muddy base). The views straight ahead are fantastic looking into the Llangollen valley. Continue downhill to the first gate.
The going becomes a bit harder here, with more rocks on the trail but generally if care is taken it is not too troublesome. The route continues to skirt the perimeter of a farmer’s field. The ruts become less aggressive, and rocks take over covering the trail. Depending on when you’re riding, there may be lots of sheep around so take care, they have a tendency to dart out in front of you.
Continue through the next gate and the trail becomes a bit steeper as you ride down the valley side. Proceed round a sharp right-hand bend. Take care as the trail is very steep and the surface pretty loose. Stick to the route, there’s evidence of off-piste activity to the left and the scars are finally recovering.
Continue to the road along a very easy farm access track.
Turn left (180-degree turn on a banked corner, take care as it’s not easy to turn the corner in one go) and head back uphill. There are plenty of loose rocks but traction is not normally an issue here. Go round a right-hand bend and continue to the gate.
Go through the gate. This section is fairly steep and setting off after closing the gate could cause issues for any beginners. This next section is the best of the trail (in my opinion). Go through the forest section and then the track turns into very loose rocks, with a few ruts. Keep the momentum going all the way up. By the time you reach the next gate, your arms will be pumped. You can really open it up on this section. Try not to get too distracted by the amazing views to the right as you will soon get chance to sit back and take them in.
At the gate relax, stop and take a look over to the right. The views all the way down to Llangollen are fantastic (on a clear day obviously). There is also a downhill mountain bike course here and on a weekend it’s a very popular destination for mountain bikers. You will see them approaching from ahead as this is where the farmer drops them off after driving the riders and bikes up on his tractor. Proceed to the next gate along a muddy farm track where the trail ends at the next gate.
Did you know?
Did you know situated above the town of Llangollen to the north is Castell Dinas Bran, the stronghold of the Princes of Powys. Beyond the castle is the limestone escarpment known as the Eglwyseg rocks. the outcrop continues north to World’s end in Wrexham. the area nearest the castle is the Panorama Walk and is the opposite side of the valley to the Llwybr Ceiriog trail.
35 Toft Hill Trail, North Yorkshire
2 miles | Wow factor ✪✪✪✪✪
This trail is fantastic but not suited to beginners. This is due to a steep uphill section that has severe drops to the left. Trailwise highlights this as a ‘narrow ledge, unsafe for four-wheel drive. Hence there are no visible 4×4 tracks once you pass through the gate. Also, at the top, the correct route is not obvious (follow the details in points 4-5) and this will be down to no four-wheel drive and motorbike traffic using this trail. The long Rutland Rigg (ABR Issue 15) trail is only a few miles away so these two trails can be combined to form a good route. North Yorkshire is a fantastic place to ride and there are plenty of good, long trails to have a go at, along with several good fords.
From the small village of Kirby, head south towards Toft Hill Caravan Park, the park being on the right towards the end of the lane. Immediately after the caravan park, veer left. The route to the right only leads to the Stockton Thornaby District Scout Pybus Training Centre and Campground. The ground is pretty grassy and rutted. Continue past the scout hut on the right and proceed towards and through the gate.
The route now heads uphill through the bracken. Stay to the right. There is obvious off-piste activity to the left heading up the hill. The correct route is on the right. After the initial muddy grassy parts, the route turns to stone. It is fairly steep with lots of loose rocks. Proceed round the left-hand bend. If you have struggled to this point please stop as it only gets more difficult.
As you proceed round the next bend the going gets pretty tough. The rocks are steep and slippery and the best option is to fully commit and ride up the rocky steps. Stopping here is not an option as you will not get going again and there is no room to turn around. Stay away from the edge to the left. Looking down is very daunting. Once up this tricky bit you reach a left-hand hairpin. It’s now time to stop and look back at the views below. This is an ideal time to walk 50 or so metres uphill and plan your route of attack.
This next section is not easy. The easiest route is to the left and straight up the bank. However, there is a large drop to the left and if you were to go over the edge it’s a long way down. The route to the right (safer) is rocky and deeply rutted. Take care on this section.
The route now turns extremely rutted all the way to the gate. Go through the gate where the correct route is not obvious. To the left and right is the Cleveland Way. This is a footpath so do not proceed along this. Instead, head straight on and to the right. This may seem like off-piste as you are now riding over virgin open moorland/ grass, but this is the correct route. After 50 metres or so you will see stone pillars.
Head towards these and the track will come into view.
Proceed past the stone pillars and the route is very muddy and rutted. Continue straight ahead through more mud and puddles. Eventually, the route turns into a farm access track with no mud or ruts and has a hard compact base.
You have reached the end when you reach the gate. Continue past the farm along the tarmac road.
Did you know
The Toft Hill green lane crosses over the Cleveland Way, a national trail which skirts the North Yorkshire moors and is part of Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk. this particular section of the route was described by Wainwright as ‘one of the finest’ so be prepared to take in some spectacular scenery as you ride.