BIKE | Cycling the Forest of Dean Family Cycle Trail | Gloucestershire
Get wheely lost in the Forest of Dean
A cycle trail for all
See a different side of the Forest of Dean
History, nature and wildlife beckons you further
"...the bike ride amongst the trees..."
The Forest of Dean Family Cycle Trail offers 11 miles of forestry tracks and paths that run in a circular route around the glorious Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Through mixed woodlands of native species oak and beech, to conifer and pine, to heathland. Squirrels are plenty. But it’s the deer and boar that are the rarities to spot.
The trail itself criss-crosses two main roads over special crossing points and offers spectacular woodland biking. It runs moderately uphill but gently and over time with interesting fun zones and intriguing riding. On a sunny day, scores of families with young ones disappear into the green. But there’s plenty of space in this Forest.
And the best bit is the open riding. Look left. Look right. And all you can see are trees. Windows into the wild. There are, of course, some wonderful viewpoints. But it is the liberation on two wheels when you’re knee-deep in the Forest which is the best bit!
There is more adventure for those excitable riders – the Verderers Trail and the Freeminers Trail based at the Cannop Cycle Centre offer more variety and more ‘danger’.
But stay awhile on old faithful. For the Family Cycle Trail follows the former route of the Severn and Wye Railway. Whilst you’re peddling away, imagine if you will, the sights, sounds and smells of the old puffing engines laden with coal, iron and tin making their way up and down these valleys. For these woodlands were the heartbeat of the Industrial Revolution. And the route navigates by the old features of this route: Cannop Wharf, Drybrook Road, Speech House…
The mines are nearly all long gone now. But the Forest remains, as does the character. The cycle trail has been specially surfaced for bikes and the grading offers riding for beginners or for those with tag-alongs.
There are opportunities to jump off and, on the trail, depending on if you’re got interest further afield. If you’re short on time, or on energy in the legs, there is a shorter route called the Hicksters Way Loop. And if you are without your own bike, there are opportunities to hire bikes locally at Cannop and Parkend.
Most cyclists venture around in a clockwise direction, ending or beginning somewhere near Cannop or Beechenhurst. Some like to stop for an ice cream and to watch the wildlife at Cannop Ponds from the comfort of a bench or leaning on the wooden bridge. The circular loop takes most about two hours to tap round. But when faced with a clear trail on a fine day, a couple of hours can take the entire day. Your choice.
So if you’re a cyclist or more of a leisure rider, a hero on a bike or more of the wobblier variety, take a turn on this cycle trail. It quite simply offers the very best way to see the Forest of Dean. Eleven miles of sylvan magic, full of wildlife and with history in spades.
Directions and Map |
Find the Forest of Dean in west Gloucestershire with the towns of Cinderford and Coleford within and the towns of Lydney, Ross-on-Wye, Monmouth and Chepstow on its edges and the Cycle Trail which can be started at the Cycle Centre, Cannop Ponds, Parkend or Lydbrook as well as other access points