Man made trails are ace. How’s that for a turn around?
Past experience was the little downhill bit in Chopwell, playing on the skills loop at Kielder and a bit of path at Hamsterley and I really struggled to see the point and felt dreadfully snooty about the sort of people who go there.
But. We fancied a family weekend in a posh hotel somewhere in the Borders and on the recommendation of someone on STW went to a place right next to Glentress. Inpsired design means that the ‘family’ green route is up the hill but you can drive there so be in the thick of it whilst doing easy stuff. Actually the green trail was fairly dull, confirming my fears but then the boys found the play area. Even cautious Harry was hurtling over the tabletops, completely unfazed by nearly wiping out into a tree, and we were all trying to ‘get some air’ within minutes. There were no complaints about being tired or having to ride uphill, just ever bigger jumps.
Then, of course, everyone wanted to ride down the hill to the Hub. This is when I realised how inspired the design is. It’s a blue run back down, exciting enough for a 9, 7 and 40 yr old semi reluctant female to get down and be buzzing at the bottom. It also meant I got to ride back up and get some exercise too. There seemed to be a general aversion/inability to ride uphill (one of many similarities to that other guilty pleasure – skiing) so the path was quiet and the trail builders have thoughtfully made some fun bits to play on on the way up. By the time I got back down the boys were still jumping over the little hump outside the cafe and had to be nearly dragged away. After 4+ hours outside on a chilly January day in Scotland that’s amazing!
Next day it had snowed then was raining. I thought we might just go for a walk but Sarah had seen the weather forecast (whilst in the gym in the hotel!) and reckoned it would be dry at Newcastleton which is kind of on the way home. A totally different experience, much quieter and not so many jumps but the boys still wanted to go back up so they could ride down again. Now, here’s a thing, the only other people we saw on the trail, a couple, also went round again. I can understand a child wanting to repeat stuff that was fun, and there is no reason why an adult shouldn’t but if I have an hour for a ride I don’t go out on a half hour loop twice.
That’s the kind of attitude that has put me off these places in the past but I can really see the attraction now. Also, there were hundreds of people at Glentress – imagine how crowded all the other natural trails would be if they weren’t there. Maybe it’s like climbing walls – not really like climbing outside but all the climbing I seem to do these days 🙂