Ride Guide – Gisburn Forest
Gisburn forest is one of those trail centres that is close enough for me to justify a visit every at least once a month. Since the Hopetech Women’s ride at the beginning of summer I have visited the trail few times many times and each time I’ve found something new to challenge me on “the 8”, which is the main red circuit in Gisburn.
Gisburn Forest feels fairly remote situated on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire. The forest plays host to a large tribe of mountain bikers all year round. It’s not easy to find your way there using signs alone but use BB7 4TS and you should get there.
Gisburn is host to two main trails for mountain bikers; a blue-graded one and a red-graded loop which takes in some parts of the blue and adds in more challenging features. The red grade loop, otherwise known as “the 8” is an 11 mile long figure of eight, with few black opt-ins on the way which will definitely challenge you or just scrape your crank arms. The 8 is a very rooty and rocky trail with both challenging climbs and descents but, as Marmalade once said; you gotta get up to get down.
Look out for Homebaked, the climb through the forest rewards you with a lovely ‘techy’ descent through the trees, littered with roots and rocks to catch you and your pedals out. I’ve certainly found the numerous ‘steps’ a challenge, and the number of scratches into the rocks suggest that those that went before me had the same problem. The interesting thing about Gisburn is the wetter the weather, the more challenging the trail gets. If you come in summer it will be a totally different experience to the wetter, colder months.
Once you’ve made it across board-walk covered swamps (terrifying!) and climbed up to Whelpstone Crag you are over halfway round the trail and should now have a feel for everything the 8 can throw at you. If you’re feeling confident then stop off at the top of Whelpstone Crag to encourage your riding partners to go first sending it over ‘the slab’. It may look like a sheer cliff but I can assure you that it is rollable (or at least Mr Betty can do it).
After the slab, at the far end of the 8 there is perhaps the most famous and grin-inducing part of the trail; Hully Gully. It rides like a rollercoaster with fast swoopy berms and steep chutes which run down the hillside following the streams to the bottom. Be sure not to let the drop at the start catch you out, and try and get as high up the enormous berms as you can to really get the most out of this section.
Last, but not least is the Hope Line, which as you might have guessed is sponsored by local bike ‘super brand’ Hope Technology. In fact if you’re ever riding at Gisburn you are likely to bump into Hope riders and staff out testing new products If you’ve seen photos of riders sending it over some large tabletops in the trees, then this will have been the Hope Line.
Since its opening in 2011 the Hope Line has been one of the most enjoyable sections of trail that is worth sessioning over and over, if you can stomach the steep fireroad climb back to the top. Faced with some pretty steep climbs I have certainly come to regret that last slice of pizza the night before on a number of visits to Gisburn. Given the unusual figure of eight layout of the trail you can have a go at the Hope Line on the way out and on the way back home which services to make it a focal point for riders out on the trails.
Since I first visited Gisburn at the start of 2015 the trail facilities have really improved. There is now a cafe which offers delicious cups of tea and cake as well as a lovely bike shop and bike hire if you need it. The trails are all well marked and there are lots of people around willing to help you out with the directions if required. Gisburn is not as popular as Dalby so you won’t get as many families out on the trails, that may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view.
As mentioned earlier, the trail center is nearby Hope Technology, and this is evident when you see the number of bikes sporting Hope parts whilst out on the trails. Not only have Hope provided assistance with building and maintaining the trails, they also organise Hope Tech Women rides with the vast majority taking place at Gisburn. If you haven’t already attended one of the Women’s Rides in 2016 then be sure to let Hope know that you’d be keen to join for rides in 2017. Riding Gisburn with 20 other women did a lot to help my confidence when i was first learning to tackle Home Baked and the Hope Line.
Overall, Gisburn is a great trail centre for those looking to master technical descents and challenging climbs, one day I will make it up “Rocky road” without stopping! Check it out and let us know how you got on after your ride.
November 27, 2016