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Hamsterley Forest Red and Black Grade MTB Trails – Mountain Biking in Durham

Hamsterley Forest Red and Black Grade MTB Trails – Mountain Biking in Durham


That was very nearly tree. This is Hamsterley Forest in Durham, and today is a bit of a pick and mix day. By that, I mean that we’re not here to ride a single trail from start to finish. Instead we’re going to be riding some of the black trail and some of the red trail, too. To begin with, we’re going to be riding a section of the black trail called Pike’s Teeth. This is my first time riding Pike’s Teeth, so it’s a brand new adventure. It seems that Pike’s Teeth is really a trail of two halves. During the first half, it winds its way between trees, over rocks, and over roots, and has a technical air about it. The wet ground makes it a little precarious in parts, but it’s an interesting ride, nonetheless, and it’s definitely engaging. Because it rained last night the roots and rocks are a little slippery. If truth be told, I’m keen to hit this section of trail again when it’s dry, because I’m certain it’ll prove to be faster and more exciting than it is today. However, for the moment, I’m just going to take my time and enjoy myself. The second half of the section is all flow. The trail opens out and the surface is hard and fast. There are jumps and drops, and it’s generally easy to carry speed through the corners. Although, not that easy through the final few berms. At the end of Pike’s Teeth, we followed the black trail out through the forest. Next on the list is a section called Root 666, and that will be followed by Odd Sox and Two Wheels and a Troll. Eventually we’ll end up back on the floor of the valley and from there we’ll climb to meet the red trail and ride Polty’s Last Blast, K-Line, Transmission, Accelerator and Nitrous. Beyond Pike’s Teeth we reached a section of trail called Root 666. Although this section is mostly a technical climb, the tail end of the trail can be ridden with gravity on your side. You might question whether the climb was worth the brief reward, but I’m more interested in getting stuck into the next section called Odd Sox. Odd Sox serves up flow from the outset and after a short while it forks, giving the choice of either red or blue grade riding. At this point, I should have stayed left for red, but didn’t, so I chose to hike back up the trail for a second chance and a good run in. The red fork is characterised by a series of tall, imposing turns that form a rocky corkscrew. There is a rock drop part way down, and had I realised in time I would have taken it, but it wasn’t to be today. The blue fork, presumably, offers riders a less committing alternative, but I’m yet to ride it. With Odd Sox done, we’re straight back to wet, slippery tech. I think this section is called Two Wheels and a Troll, but I’m not certain. If you can set the record straight, please let me know in the comments section below. Regardless, it’s our last descent on this side of valley, and when it ends we’re going to climb up the southern side of the valley, where we’ll join the red grade trail. Polty’s Last Blast is part of the red grade trail and is the first of five singletrack sections that will deliver us back to the valley floor, and eventually back to the car park. It’s not a long section, but it runs straight into K-Line, so there are no breaks in the trail, and together they form quite a formidable length of singletrack. Both Polty’s Last Blast and K-Line are smooth, fast and a lot of fun. Unlike more technical trail sections, they will undoubtedly appeal to riders of all abilities. Less experienced riders should be pretty comfortable rolling any one of the numerous features, whereas more advanced riders can push a little harder and find more air. Transmission begins at a circular seating area where riders can stop to refuel. Like K-Line, Transmission is fast and a lot of fun. The surface is rougher and rockier than the sections leading up to it, but that doesn’t have to slow you down. Also, if you can take your eyes off the trail for just a second, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the world beyond the forest. Zero energy. The lower half of Transmission is a lot more relaxed than the start. It has a more subdued presence and sits well on the forest floor. The mature trees and banks of fern make it feel almost as though it’s outgrown its louder, younger past, and has settled into a more serene rhythm. Accelerator follows Transmission and is a deceptively fast trail. The moderate berms effortlessly catapult riders from turn to turn, building up a speed that is quite unnatural, given the slight gradient. This is also where this video began. If you cast your mind back, you might remember that I almost clipped a tree whilst doing my best to rail a berm. That was very nearly tree. Now, some people might see that as a negative omen, but I like to think that every cloud has a silver lining, and that this lining is nudging me to ride this section again, but this time missing the tree by a more favourable margin. Besides, it would be rude not to. This berm marks the start of Nitrous; the last leg of this descent. The previous section, Accelerator, used to end on the fire road just to my right, and that’s exactly where Nitrous used to begin. The addition of this new turn means that the two sections flow seamlessly from one into the next, which, for me at least, is a very welcome improvement. What are my thoughts on Hamsterley Forest? I like it, I do. It’s got some great trails, which really are fun to ride, but you have to know where to look. I don’t want to be critical, but I just don’t enjoy riding the red trail from start to finish. It’s got too much fire road, and I’d rather cut to the chase and spend a day sessioning only the singletrack, which is excellent. Adding part of the black trail into the mix has been fun and I would definitely do it again, but in future I’d add the final stages of the red and black trails, For the moment, however, grown up life is calling, so that’s a video for another day. If you’re new to the channel, please consider subscribing. If you do, and you click the bell icon, you’ll be the first to know about new Meant for Descent content. If you’ve found this video to be entertaining or helpful, please also give it a thumbs up. Thanks for watching.

5 comments on “Hamsterley Forest Red and Black Grade MTB Trails – Mountain Biking in Durham

  1. Weird thing about Pikes' is that the top section feels more techy than it is. If you just push on it's pretty fast and fun 🙂

  2. Yes, it's called Two wheels and a Troll, which straight after leads in to a short trail called "Kate's trail" , your right in what your saying , it does have a lot of fireroads, and the trials are spread out over the forest , but their all worth the effort in climbing the fireroads to get to them.. both black and red routes can be done within a day depending on how fit you are ..

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