Yorkshire Water have been pretty good in the past for opening up permissive bridleways, though they have shied away from offering shared use of footpaths on their land. But they are still ahead of many with their embracing of mountain biking. They took another big step this year when they invested heavily in a new 1.2km bike trail along side Fewston reservoir in the Washburn Valley, North Yorkshire.
The trail begins towards the top of a forest track climb and weaves innocuously enough through the trees, and to begin with gives the impression of being a bit tame and dull.
Then suddenly some great big bloody rocks emerge in front of you. Interesting. These give you impression something is up. They need commitment, bodywork, and a careless exit could tip you out of the front door. A few more such rock features and things are really looking up. The climb done its time for a traverse featuring berms, rock drops and boulders. This is very interesting indeed. Lines of rollers are two spaced out to work properly on first ride. Go back, ride again, charge into them, oh wow… Especially when you realise not all the rollers have have smooth backsides. Some of them have rocky exits, just to keep you on your toes. All this alternated with balance features and skinnies, rough rock gardens, and slaloms and a handful of surprises makes for a unique and highly enjoyable trail.
In all truth, it is a skills area, not a trail. With real character and imagination used in the build, its very Yorkshire, with railway like cuttings, (or maybe more like a reservoir dam), the trail feels very much in keeping with the area and rewards repeated riding. It’s a lot of fun, and the fact that it is so short means rather that stop your run to go back to the feature that eluded you, you can continue on down and catch it on the next run. This means you could very easily ride 3 or 4 laps without stopping… And its such fun you won’t feel that until later.
But its not 100% perfect, built during a long dry summer, my second ride confirmed what worried me on the first, the trail bed is built at or below ground level, and not enough thought has been given to water, and so in the wetter sections of the wood it is getting a pasting, and much of the aggregate is gone into unridable mud.
All is not lost and I hope Yorkshire Water have noticed, they still have enough material on-site to fix it. It is also to be hoped they consider putting another section in parallel to the return track to close the loop, there is certainly the potential.
Not far at all from Stainburn the Swintsy Trails as they are known, despite being next to Fewston [?], make a good companion piece for those want to visit Stainburn but reluctant to make the journey for ‘just a few short trails’.
Singletraction maintain and improve Stainburn forest trails at regular volunteer dig days on the first Sunday of each month.