Currently, Carsington Water offers a choice of two cycling trails that loop around the water. If you’re riding with complete beginners or little legs, then the three-mile route is a great way to start exploring the reservoir. This route sticks close to the visitor centre, so it’s handy for the on-site restaurant and shops and are perfect for younger kids or riders new to off road cycling.
If you want more of a challenge, the eight-mile (15km) loop serves up some undulating terrain through the hills on the banks of the reservoir before flattening out and following an easy-going route by the water’s edge. None of the climbs are long but some are steep enough that you’ll feel it in your legs the next day and the section at the head of the reservoir will give your mountain bike a workout.
The routes are all well signed from the Visitors Centre, so head off across the dam – avoiding the Canada Geese – then turn left through the car park and picnic area to hit the start of the longer trail proper. In around half a mile, you’ll hit the first of the climbs followed by a hard pack descent. Take the anticlockwise route if you’re cycling as a family so you get the toughest terrain out of the way first.
One of the great things about cycling Carsington Water on a hot summer’s day is that you spend quite a lot of time in the treeline which keeps things cool and shady. The section towards the head of the reservoir hits really dense woods with plenty of rolling action which is probably the most challenging part of the entire route. But there’s still plenty to look out for, including the old RAF ‘Bomb Tower’ from the 1940s and a Bronze Age burial mound near the Visitors Centre.
- 100% Off-Road
- Long and short route options
- Suitable for beginners and families
- Undulating terrain makes for a fun ride
- Plenty of parking options and facilities
- Fantastic views across the water and surrounding countryside
- Some of the climbs on the longer route may be difficult for beginners and young children