Destination: Aston Hill, Buckinghamshire
It’s probably fair to say that a few years ago Aston Hill was starting to look, feel and ride a bit tired. Then in 2008 the volunteer Aston Hill Committee, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and CTC, took over and have returned it to its former glory and more. Expect lightning fast riding in dry weather and a slippery chalk and root fest in the wet. Lots of racing goes on so check out Ride Aston Hill before setting out.
How to get there
From Aylesbury, take the A41 south towards Hemel Hempsted. Follow the road as it becomes dual carriageway and then take the second exit onto the B4009. Follow this west towards Wendover, turning left to stay on the B4009. Once the woods appear on your left, turn left to climb a minor road. The car park is on your left halfway up the hill.
Sat Nav: HP22 5NQ
Parking is on-site and is covered by your £6 day pass. There’s a portaloo in the car-park and plusher facilities, including cake, tea and warmth, in the excellent Cafe in the Woods over the road in Wendover Woods. Nearby towns, Wendover, Aston Clinton and Tring have everything else you’d want and Aston Hill Mountain Bike Club does BBQs in the summer.
The XC loop, although relatively short at 6.5km, is enough of a challenge and has variety to make it well worth multiple loops. It’s a loop of two halves with the first an undulating but relatively gentle warm-up, but watch out for the ever-present roots in the wet. The second half tips downhill and follows the downhill red run. It's not super-steep, but on an XC bike, there's plenty to keep you honest. You can the either continue all the way down or do a bit more climbing and enjoy a fun and swoopy new section. You’ve then got to climb back up, with one especially vicious ascent, but it's all good for the legs.
There are five downhill runs, including the red, with the most infamous being the original black. It’s definitely the steepest but all share testing grades and roots. DH5 (4-2-3) was built in the summer of 2009 and was used for that year's Southern Downhill Championships. DH4 is currently closed. The 4X course, with its photo opportunity road gap, is open but is undergoing constant restoration work.
Nearest bike shop
Dees Cycles, Amersham www.deescycles.com
Freewheelin’ Bikes, High Wycombe www.freewheelin-bikes.co.uk
Mountain Mania, Tring www.mountainmaniacycles.co.uk
You’re in the Chilterns so there’s a plethora of natural trails to explore and some cracking local pubs to re-hydrate in.