Hamsterley Forest mountain bike trails and Descend Hamsterley Bike Park are set in the 2000 hectares of Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham in the North East of England. There is both a well-established cross country trail set up as well as a renowned downhill and 4X bike park scene.
There are three XC tracks (black, red any blue) managed by the Hamsterley TrailBlazers. The volunteer community is always busy developing and maintaining the trails and in spring 2014 a new section of trail called the Pikes Teeth opened. Since then in 2015 they have also added sections such as OddSox and extended Boneshaker and 2 Wheels & Trolls. In 2016 they got funding for @7 more miles of trail and at the end of the year opened a new red section Polty's Last Blast.
There is also Descend Bike Park which is a specific Downhill and 4X area run by Descend Hamsterley which accommodates everyone from beginners to full-on experts and professionals. It has 5 downhill runs with 8 optional bottom sections that run out from them. The top sections are fast and flowy with optional chicken runs and the bottom sections are much more technical, steep, rocky and rooty.
Cross Country (XC)
The Blue Trail
- The blue trail is 9 miles (14.5km) long and is for experienced cyclists. It starts from the Visitors Centre and it gets quite steep in places to the extent that unaccustomed folk may often walk. You can take this trail at your own pace and the first stretch is on a wide, purpose built cycle track. From Grove house is it mainly on loose surfaced forest road. The final couple of miles back to the Visitors Centre is on tarmac. It takes around 2 hours to complete and you can find the trail map here.
The Red Trail
- The 12.5 mile (20km) red graded trail has some pretty prolonged up and downs so good fitness is a must as is technical competence. It starts from Bedburn Car Park and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. The route starts off with the Blue trail to the Grove where it then splits off on a mix of forest road and singletrack. As a result of some recent investment, it is now in a neat figure of eight loop (they joined two sections together). The route then retraces a short climb past Descend Bike Park before returning to the start at Bedburn via some pretty awesome single track sections. You can find the trail map here.
The Black Trail
- The black trail is 7 miles (11km) long and graded severe. The terrain is mostly narrow, rooty singletrack with drops and very steep sections. This trail has very steep technical climbs, flowing single track and numerous rooty descents. You can find the trail map here.
- The DH1 was the first downhill track built at Hamsterley. The top section is fast and flowing with bombholes, stepdowns and a big tabletop. After the road jump it steps it up a gear and there are numerous drops, big rock gardens, loads of rocks, and steep shoots.
DH1 - The Shoot
- This is an alternative line of the above. After the road jump you split of the track at the 2nd left, which leads you off a small drop and into a rock littered steep track, after the path there is a bit of a flatter section that is quite tight, then you go over a big off camber rock into a very steep shoot that joins back onto the main track at the bottom switchbacks.
DH2 - Black Magic
- Starting from the start ramp the beginning of this track follows the line of DH1 until just after the first bomb hole where you turn left into the trees before the double, once through the root riddled trees, there is the run into the big bomb hole jump, after this the track is fast with a few flat corners then bearing right into a rocky shoot and across the road. once across the road this track becomes a lot more technical, mainly rooty and steep with some tricky of camber turns and a few drops, the bottom of the track finishing with a drop into a steep shoot or the chicken line around the drop.
DH2 - The Edge
- Starting from the start ramp this track follows the same line as the Black Magic trail left after the first bomb hole into the trees then through the big bomb hole, once out of the bomb hole follow the track as the Black Magic trail just before this trail bears off to the right follow the edge trail around a slightly off camber left turn, this takes you to the bottom of the dual course. Down the bottom of the duel takes you across the road and into the bottom section of The Edge trail. once you enter the bottom section it becomes pretty dark and narrow with some off camber roots and rocks, you drop down a steep little shoot onto the path with a couple line choices, across the path and into the next bit is more of the same with a few rocks and roots on a narrow trail, through a little rocky section then onto the Northshore, once off the NorthShore the trail becomes a lot rougher and rocky, careful not to get too close to the edge. A steep rough shoot through the trees finishes this trail and brings you out behind the last berm on the Black Magic Trail.
Skills Area - The Duel Track
- Head 2 head from the start ramp step down get the line and hit 2 table tops, ride 2 berms right then left. Jump or manual the small doubles pick your line and cut your mate up at the cross over. Gather speed round the sweeping right-hand berm and hit a pair of 4X type table tops, land the down slope and blast the berm to hit the finish line first.
- The 4X track starts with a big roll in followed by three table top jumps which lead to a banked corner, from here there are multiple line choices with singles, doubles, triples and a couple of rhythm sections. It is 550 metres long, 6 metres wide and very fast.
- Downhill Day Pass and uplift prices - see site.
- Refreshments available from the cabin.
- In 2014 they took 2nd place in Trail of the Year for England and also a third place for UK Bike Park.
- If you have ridden either the Cross Country or the Downhill trails at Hamsterley Forest and Descend Bike Park then please come and share your experiences with the rest of the community and write a short review or post some pictures or videos to the listing.