As the gateway to your mountain biking experience in North Wales, Oneplanet Adventure, located in Coed Llandegla Forest, has become well known as the place to come for your mountain biking adrenaline fix in the UK. Located just 20 minutes from Chester, Oneplanet Adventure is the most accessible purpose built mountain bike centre in North Wales and no matter what your experience level, its sure to have you grinning from ear to ear. There is a range trails to suit all abilities, from the picturesque Green Trail around the reservoir to the airtime-tastic B-Line trail and plenty in between. The carefully designed network of trails ensure that progression is simple and finding a trail that suits your ability and fitness levels will be easy. The trails at Coed Llandegla are constantly being developed and maintained. We also offer various grades of walking trails.
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The lamb burger was particularly fine. Hire bikes are available, as are demo bikes, making it a good place to do some back-to-back testing before splashing your cash on a new bike. A hardtail or short-travel full-suspension bike will make the trails a lot more entertaining and give you the biggest reward for your efforts. Pick of the trails The Red with Black options is the best choice for those looking to blend distance with thrills.
Finishing off in the skills area is a must. During the long drive back from a day of scaring ourselves at BikePark Wales my mate Tim asked if I fancied heading over to Llandegla for our next trip.
I guffawed… while picking grit out of my teeth. The truth is, my experience of Llandegla has not been entirely positive. My last visit was five years ago, and all I remember is pedalling.
Pedalling on the ups, pedalling on the flat and pedalling on the downs. Pedalling non-stop. I do remember the cafe was pretty good though.
If you do like it, you can buy me lunch. How does that sound? We had a deal. As well as the hardcore work-dodgers, there are classes of school kids, groups on coaching courses and families on hire bikes.
Tim begins his pitch for a free lunch with the trail map. The trails at Llandegla have been open for 10 years and, looking at the trailhead map board, there certainly are many more than when I was last here.
Impressive stuff. Time to see how it measures up. We ride past the skills area — which does look like it could be fun — and through a gaggle of exhausted school kids in their football shirts, helmets hanging off the back of their heads and bikes strewn on either side of the trail.
On the upside, that free lunch seems more of a certainty. Views make a ride The trail levels off. The top of the hill is lined with saplings; miniature Christmas trees, rather than the tall old growth. From here you can see out onto the surrounding hills and down to the Cheshire Plain, helping to give you some sense of place within the world.
For me views make a ride. They provide the chapter markers that help cement it into your memory. Scalextric-style start and finish rides, through the trees, can be fun but they lack the context that makes you really appreciate a place. My memories of riding at Llandegla were of feeling that I could have been in any copy and paste forestry plantation.
It had nothing unique, and no special sense of identity. Christmas trees line the trail as new routes loom ahead The red and blue trails split at this point. We continue on the red, Tim keen to show me some of the newer sections. The trail narrows and the downhill begins. It is reasonably open; big sweeper berms , small drops , and lots of lumps and bumps to pump , give the impression of a crushed-rock roller coaster. Light struggles to penetrate the dense tree cover, and what little that does illuminates the crushed rock trail; a pewter ribbon in the gloom.
I pull over to get my camera out. A minute or so later, I hear Tim coming; the low rumble of tyres on the trail dotted by short gaps of silence as he flies over a series of jump s.
The lack of obvious gradient, the unrelenting dark and the repetition of the trees, all conspire to throw your sense of direction, making it difficult to place yourself.
Perversely, I quite like this feeling; if there are no views to enjoy, I might as well feel engulfed by the forest and embrace the darkness. Stuffed with trails While the forest may be blacker than I anticipated, the actual black trails are definitely lighter than expected. Whoever marked the trails when they were built was a little over-cautious.
None of the black trails are true blacks; more like reds. Given the number of beginners Llandegla attracts, this is probably a good thing, but for experienced riders it pays to not be too put off by the rather large warning signs at the start of every black section.
Zig-zagging, rising and falling, the trail continues. Complete attention is required at all times. There are tales told of the Athertons having built some trails in the forest that were destined to become a freeride area, but were never opened as they were off-the-scale bonkers. Locals whisper of a 4x course, built deep in the woods, for Dan Atherton to practice on. Neither is Tim, but the myth does lend an element of intrigue to the place.
Despite a red arrow directing us left, we head right, up what was a bermed section of trail. The wood and wire trail takes us over the stumps and carcasses of long dead trees. Trees that may well have ended up as the pages of mbr magazine. A bacon butty and a slice of flapjack would be nice… The reason why we Brits have taken so well to trail centres is, as I see it, three-fold.
We suffer more than our fair share of crap weather, so having somewhere to ride that is reasonably unaffected by rain is generally a good thing. Secondly, we like quick fixes and easy hits. Finally, we like being flattered; made to feel better than we really are. I feel like a riding God. This is the feel-good factor in full effect.
We ride past the centre and back up the first climb. While big rides are all fine and well, there is something about just mucking around in the woods that feels so rewarding.
Railing round a few corners, boosting off some lumps in the ground, dropping off a rock or two; just dicking about on two wheels and seeing how much further, faster or higher you can go each time. Jumps, drops, corners; the lot. All of which can be hit in one second lap. Cheap thrills: I love them. But who paid for it? We park our bikes among the throng of school kids who have now flooded into the centre. A group that has been out doing skills coaching pulls up, and three lads who have been out on hire bikes skid to a halt just in front of us.
The trick, for those who have a higher adrenaline threshold, is to understand that this is a trail centre designed and built for the masses. To take the brunt of a million tyres and to allow every rider that visits to leave with a smile on their face. I get out my wallet.
Mountain Bike Trails
Specialist Sections Green Route A waymarked route of approximately 5km developed specifically with families in mind. The route avoids major climbs and technical sections, and concentrates on allowing families to experience off-road cycling in a fun and safe way. The surfaces encountered on this route are generally hard packed but there are sections which are loose, uneven or muddy at times. The route allows riders to ascend gently from the car park, through the forest and on to the reservoir, with its views of the Clwydian Range. After cycling around the reservoir, the route meanders back through the forest before the final descent which sweeps down to the Visitor Centre, providing you with an opportunity for a well earned cup of tea and piece of cake!
Llandegla, North Wales trail centre guide