So while the Mole pack cut up the root to Newlands, Jem and I headed over to Swinley on the pretense of taxi duties. It wasn’t so much a pretense as an opportunity that was too good to miss. Our other halves we booked on a DirtDivas training day at Crowthorn, a mere three miles form the Look Out car park at Swinley.
So we found ourselves with 2500 acres of Crown Estate to explore, a map and a GPS route that I wasn’t convinced didn’t have the start and end swapped around. In the end it didn’t really matter. If you think Leith Hill and Holmbury get busy you need to go and see the sheer number of bikers that ride around Swinley Forest. It seems to draw the crowds and there are masses of recreational riders as well as the more enthusiastic such as ourselves. Bike Hire is available for about £10 for two hours and you need to buy a permit to ride with is £2 a day or £18 a year. Pay it, it’s well worth supporting as the trails are well maintained and well thought out. I reached this conclusion just after lunch on the second run through a section totally nailing the berms (dude).
So, the drill that Jem and I adopted was ride a little, look lost, ask someone, get sent down some excellent trails. Repeat.
I’m a little lost as to what any of the trails were called apart from the Labyrinth which the video on the earlier post shows ONE of the many routes through. Its called the Labyrinth because it has multiple entrances and exits as well as a crossover point in the middle to allow further combinations. Start from 2nd on the left and take a hard right is my advice! Also if you see a group of “younger” riders on large travel rigs it’s probably means broken bones for the over 40s so give them some respect and move on.
Which brings me to the jump trench. I reckon this was a natural trench that they’ve built to allow jump riders to sail down it getting air and performing 360s on the way. Stay and watch, we did and were rewarded with a guy in a white piss pot style lid get some air and spin the bike round under him. Excellent viewing.
Those of you more familiar with Holmbury and Pitch Hill I guess the overall layout is close to that. Lots of wide fire roads and tantilising entrances/exits visible as you ride along. Most of the people we met admitted to often finding bits they never knew existed. The whole trail infrastructure seems to have been put in place by Gorrick and some of the locals say the best time to go is after a race as most of the markers are still in place. Judging by the berms I referred to earlier they know how to make a trail flow.
After lunch we ended up hooking up with a guy called Bob, who lives in California now but used to ride Swinley a lot. He mentioned the Singletrackminded web site that he uses so I thought I give it a shout out in this article. He showed us some excellent trails including one that was a bit off the beaten track but included a great section at the end where you switched sides down a gully like one massive, continuous berm. Pretty cool!
Hope to get back there soon. In the meantime check out my Labyrinth video.