The Verderers Trail at the Forest of Dean is graded a blue (like with pistes, trails are graded green through to black) and it is a perfect introduction to mountain biking or just brilliant fun for the more experienced rider to blast around.

We visited the Forest of Dean last summer and did the green graded family trail with the little man on the back of the bike but it has been over three years since I have ridden the Verderers trail and it is definitely one I couldn’t wait to re-visit.

We decided to mix up our normal Monday night rides and head over to the Forest of Dean, it’s a bit of a trek (about an hour and half in rush hour traffic from Bath) but the reward is well worth the effort. I haven’t managed to get out on the bike recently after moving house and having to store the bikes in our bedroom means I’m waiting for the better weather and a guarantee of a less muddy bike, so I jumped at a chance of a trail centre ride.

100% of the Verderers Trail is off-road, no long fire-road climbs here and from the car park it is straight into the action with a gentle climb up to the bottom of the Sallowvallets downhill area. From here there is a short climb up to the first little section of gentle flowing downhill between the trees, just enough to warm up.

From there you hit the steepest section of climbing on the trail, a fairly demanding climb but the trail is mostly smooth (being graded a blue) so it is easy to get into a nice climbing rythem with only the switchback corners to negotiate.

The trail then continues to gently climb with short sections of downhill as it dives in and out of the trees and across more open sections of cleared forest, there is still plenty to keep you entertained.

The reward for all that climbing…the downhill and it is FUN! Being a blue graded trail there is nothing too technical just a fast, beautifully flowing trail that will put a smile on your face. There is a mixture of sweeping berms, tighter corners and sets of rollers that make you get faster and faster! The surface is mostly pretty smooth (no rock gardens here!) but watch out for the occasionally braking rut. The last section just makes you want to go back and ride it all again!

After coming all that way we were determined to make the most of it and managed to blast around the first loop in 45mins, whilst we still had the daylight, just! After a quick pit-stop we stuck the lights on and did the second loop in the dark, so different riding in the dark! Your lights pick out obstacles you didn’t notice before, climbs seem steep and it was like riding a different trail but still excellent fun.

One of the best bits of coming at that time of day was that there was no-one else there, we were the last ones to leave the car park, a quick blast back down the M4 and I was tucked up in bed by 11pm. A perfect mini-Monday adventure!

For more info about cycling in Forest of Dean, the Forest of Dean Mtb club has a really useful website. And bikes are available to hire from the Pedal A Bike Away shop on the site.

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