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Mountain Bike the North Downs with a Cicerone Guidebook

Cover of Mountain Biking on the North Downs
31 Mar 2014
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
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Mountain Biking on the North Downs

by Peter Edwards
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook covers 21 routes across the North Downs, an area boasting some of south east England's finest trails. Included is a 59km MTB route on the Downs Link which joins the North Downs to the South Downs at Shoreham-by-Sea. Rides are graded for difficulty, and illustrated with OS map extracts and height profiles.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
Weight: 270g

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The North Downs offer superb mountain biking all year round. Some of the finest off-road trails to be found anywhere in the country are available in abundance amid the green, rolling chalk and sandstone hills and along the steep, wooded escarpments that comprise some of England's loveliest countryside.

Straddling two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs – the North Downs are criss-crossed by hundreds of kilometres of well-maintained byways and bridleways, which can be easily mixed and matched to create almost endless route combinations. The area's excellent trails cover sinuous woodland singletrack, punishing steep climbs, seemingly endless rattling descents and hugely enjoyable rollercoaster rides along the Downs' spine.

The 20 circular routes in this guidebook are day, half-day and shorter mtb rides along the length and breadth of the Downs. It also features a 59km route on the long-distance Downs Link, which joins the North Downs to the South Downs and leads on to the coast at Shoreham-by-Sea. From Farnham in the west to Dover in the east, the North Downs terrain is a mixture of chalk and sandstone downland, which is generally well-drained and provides superlative conditions for much of the year.

Divided into seven chapters – routes around Guildford, Dorking, Reigate and Redhill, Maidstone and the Medway Valley, Ashford, Canterbury and Elham and Temple Ewell – the circular routes range from 18.5km to 47.5km, and each provides data including distance, difficulty, time and off-road percentage. The sheer number and variety of the North Downs' excellent trails make it a playground for mountain bikers, who will never be short of options here.

  • 20 mountain bike routes right across the region, including two AONBs
  • the 59km Downs Link, which joins the North Downs to the South Downs and the coast at Shoreham-by-Sea
  • routes graded by distance, difficulty, time and how much they go off road
  • practical information on gear, preparation, safety and accommodation and bike shops in the area
  • Seasons
    the North Downs are excellent for mountain biking all year round, though from late autumn to late spring some trails can be extremely muddy and claggy; popular trails are much busier during summer, especially at weekends
  • Centres
    Guildford, Peaslake, Abinger, Dorking, Reigate, Redhill, Bearsted, Wrotham, Ightam, Chartham, Chilham, Ashford, Elham, Temple Ewell
  • Difficulty
    routes are intended for mountain bikers with some experience and a reasonable degree of fitness; routes are graded 'moderate', 'hard' and 'very hard' with 'difficult' or 'technical' sections indicated; the profusion of tree roots, jumps and flinty tracks make full-suspension bikes a serious consideration; body armour and full face helmets may be advisable for 'downhilling' enthusiasts
  • Must See
    excellent woodland singletrack in the Surrey Hills; numerous challenging climbs and exhilarating descents on the North Downs' steep southern escarpment; stimulating routes on chalk, sand and earth trails criss-crossing the beautiful rolling, wooded downland of Surrey and Kent; picturesque villages, great country pubs and fine countryside at every turn
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About the routes in this guide
Getting there and getting around
When to go
Tools and maintenance
Rights of way and other users
Using this guide
Routes around Guildford
Route 1 Puttenham Common loop
Route 2 St Martha’s Hill–Abinger loop
Routes around Dorking
Route 3 Hackhurst Downs–Polesden Lacey loop
Route 4 Gomshall–Westhumble loop
Route 5 Leith Hill and Holmbury Hill loop
Route 6 Surrey Hills Grand Traverse
Routes around Reigate and Redhill
Route 7 Oxted and Bletchingley loop
Route 8 Box Hill–Banstead Heath loop
Route 9 Warlingham–Biggin Hill loop
Routes around Maidstone and the Medway Valley
Route 10 Oldbury Hill and Mereworth Woods
Route 11 Meopham–Wrotham loop
Route 12 Bearsted, Detling Hill and Blue Bell Hill
Routes around Ashford
Route 13 Bilsington and Faggs Wood loop
Route 14 Wye Downs loop
Routes around Canterbury
Route 15 Chartham Downs loop
Route 16 Chilham and King’s Wood loop
Route 17 Rough Common–Blean Wood loop
Routes around Elham and Temple Ewell
Route 18 Elham Valley loop
Route 19 Alkham–Barham Downs loop
Route 20 Temple Ewell loop
The Downs Link
Appendix A: Camping and accommodation
Appendix B: Bike shops/bike hire/bike mechanics
Appendix C: Useful contacts
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