Today is Father’s Day, and I decided to do something a little different this year. I went mountain biking with my eldest son (nearly 20! how old does that make me feel?!) in his hometown of Bristol, to check out the Ashton Court & Leigh Woods trails, built by 1 South West .
We had arranged to meet up with a mate of mine who’d done the trails before in order to guide us, and arrived more or less bang on 10am to park in the Church Lodge car park at the bottom end of Ashton Court Estate. Front wheels reattached to our bikes, helmets on and tracking via Endomondo started, off we set.
We rode up towards the Abbots Leigh Road (A369) entrance to the estate, only to discover that we’d missed the start of the “Nova” trail and arrived at the end instead!
Backtracking, we headed uphill to the café where we obtained vague directions to the start point and off we went again.
Trail finally located, we shot off down the first section, number one son lagging behind a little. Once we reached the edge of the quarry next to Longwood Lane my mate asked what I thought so far. No bad, I said, but not as technical as the blue trails in the Forest of Dean. Number one son caught up and put a little more air in his rear tyre and off we went again.
Now, the rest of the Nova trail was much more fun, with lots of tight bends (number one son not managed to get round one of them and narrowly avoiding a tree!), small drops and a fast flowing trail making good use of the natural resources. The worst part – due no doubt to my advancing age and general lack of fitness (not having been on the bike for several weeks prior to this trip) – was a long slow, but not terribly steep, climb along a stony track. That nearly did me in!
After that though it was a fun-filled zip down along the edges of the estate, roughly following the route of Beggar Bush Lane and the A369. Great stuff!
Having made it back to where we started (that is, the end of the Nova trail) we returned again to the café for a well deserved drink and snack whilst recharging our batteries and enjoying the sunshine.
Next we crossed over the A369, cycled up Church Road to get to North Road and into Leigh Woods where we found the “Yer Tiz” trail.
Now, this trail was fun! Berms, drops, rollers and climbs. Legs starting to complain more on the uphill sections but really enjoying the twists and turns and technical challenges on offer. So of the bends were right on the edge of some pretty steep drops too, so we had to get it right!
Once we’d reached the car park area we decided that (with old man’s legs feeling rather tired!) rather than finish this section of the trail and return to the start area we would instead descend through the woods to the side of the River Avon and make our way parallel between the river and the old railway line and get back to the car that way.
Stopping to catch a few more rays next to Brunel Way we watched as the Sky Ride took place along the temporarily closed Portway before my mate headed off home and number one son and I were finally riding back along the side of Ashton Road to the car.
A really great time was had by all three of us, and will definitely be re-visiting both these trails in the future!…