Destination: Cannock Chase, Rugeley, West Midlands
Smack in the middle of the country and next to some big conurbations, Cannock sees an awful lot of riders and the trails do take a bit of a hammering. However, thanks to the work of the volunteers at Chase Trails, there’s a steady amount of maintenance, the trails take the abuse well and, especially if you can go during the week, it’s well worth a visit.
How to get there
In Rugeley, pick up the A51 from the roundabout where it joins the A460 and head north towards Wolseley Bridge. At the first set of traffic lights, turn left onto Hagley Road and follow this out of town. After a mile or so, turn left by the large Birches Valley sign, and then left again into the car park.
Sat Nav: WS15 2UA
Trails start at the Birches Valley Forest Centre, which has toilets, a cafe, bike wash facilities and an adventure playground.
Like most Forestry Commission centres, you’ve got a couple of family friendly green graded trails but you’ll be wanting something a bit tastier. Follow the Dog is the much-loved original 11km trail. It’s constantly evolving and improving and with highlights such as the Stegosaurus Rock Garden, The Boardwalk and Tackeroo Blast is a great bit of XC.
At the end of the Dog is the Monkey Trail, giving a combined distance of 24km. It’s technically tougher than the Dog with several black-graded options but, if you’re used to northern or Welsh trail centres, it's nothing too taxing. It’s fun to ride and the final Lower Cliff descent will certainly put a grin on your face.
If you’re more into downhill, jumps and drops, the Stile Cop Bike Park is worth a visit.
Nearest bike shop
Swinnerton Cycles (on-site) www.swinnertoncycles.co.uk
Parking is £3.00 for the day