Swinley Forest Review


After twisting and turning around a section of the Swinley Forest mtb trails called Labyrinth I decided I did enjoy my visit. This wasn’t how I felt initially mind you…

My busy day meant I was running late and kept my guide Steve Dunn waiting, sorry again Steve! By the time I rocked up at the car park, had a faff of the highest order it was around 5.00 before we set off.

When you do a sales training course they will occasionally tell you to watch your car doors, as its possible to open them far too many times and you don’t want your customer watching this process from a window. I excelled at this yesterday, by the time I fussed changed from shirt and tie to shorts and trail clothes, searched for my gloves, camera, keys, gloves, camera and keys again I think i must have opened my car doors about 10 times!

Anyway we were off. I nearly slipped on some roots by the car barrier leading to the trails – and this was how the first parts of the Blue trail continued to run.

The newly laid surface has been rained on and ridden on a LOT in the last few weeks and under the tyres it felt like wet cobble stones in a quite few places and this meant it was slippy.

After some time getting used to the slippery and greasy surface I began to enjoy the ride more.

Some older sections of the trail had more earth and dirt lying on them meaning the tyres could gain more traction and my confidence in the turns was higher.

Some highlights include Labyrinth which is a twisty turny workout weaving and switching through some tight single track in one of the densest parts of the forest. It’s dark and spooky and really fun. You climb, you turn, you drop and you turn and you can let loose and then you need to control your speed and switchback and so on – its great!

Chest Cam Swinley ForestThere are some DH runs which give you the chance to pick up some speed and get some air if you are that type of rider.

There’s also the jump gully which we sessioned a few times. If i could ride that regularly I am sure my confidence in the air would improve quickly. Nice natural jumps that you can’t help but get some air off.

This is not a mountainous part of the country so descending comes in very short bursts. I am sure on a dry day and with more time it would be great fun to go up and down the downhill section trying the different runs. We were short of time and our plan was to do the new Blue and Red loops.

Swinley blue skyThere’s a lot of fire road, muddy fire road, in between trail sections and there is little that feels like natural single track.

It’s quite a sanitised trail and is all rollable. I am a fan of roots and rocks and technical riding. Swinley is a trail for those that like to pedal rather than have to think about picking a line or negotiating a drop off.

But this doesn’t mean its bad its just not really for me. The trails flow and swoop beautifully. There are some great big berms and lots of opportunity to get some air if you want. The trail twists endlessly through the trees and with lots of off camber sections, climbs and short descents it is by no means an easy ride around. This is a trail you need a dropper post for in my opinion.

I came away feeling positive and look forward to a dry trip back to the DH sections and to ride around labyrinth again. I think that was my highlight.

2 thoughts on “Swinley Forest Review

  1. When I say “Natural jumps” in jump gully I don’t mean they are a natural feature i just mean that its a very natural process to roll up and over them.

    You really can just roll and jump, roll and jump through it…

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