This Mountain Bike route covers some of the best climbs and descents to be found at Hanchurch Woods. The ride starts on road and then continues on bridleways and fire roads including some tight, narrow singletrack sections. During summer the trails ride very well but can become very muddy during spring, autumn and winter.
Although I will be referring to the woodland as Hanchurch in this article, it’s officially known as Swynnerton Old Park.
We leave Newcastle-Under-Lyme on Whitmore Road and continue for about 2 miles before taking a sharp left down a narrow lane. At the top of the short, but quite steep incline we take a right and head through Butterton village. At the crossroads we take a left and follow the main road for a few hundred yards before joining the bridleway on the right down Whisper Lane. This track is full of potholes so you may want to activate your suspension here.
The trail then takes a sharp right, through a gate and follows the edge of the sports field. As we enter the edge of the woodland there is quite a deep sandy section so you’ll need to keep up a smooth cadence to get through. After the sandy section ends the trail splits off into 2 different directions. For this route we will be taking the left-hand fork and going up a steep climb which includes some large rooty sections.
To get over the initial exposed tree routes will require a sudden burst of power and some good bike handling skills. Immediately after this the terrain is less challenging until we reach another sandy section. This top section of the climb is ride-able in the summer but becomes very difficult to get up in the thick, deep mud during the winter (well done if you make it!).
Once we reach the top the trail changes to a well surfaced gravel track with some nice views across the woodland. We then take the 2nd trail on the right and start the best descent of the ride. The surface of the track is quite loose and pebbly but you can still get up to a good speed!. In this ride we will take a left at a crossroads on the trail, but you could carry on to the bottom and rejoin the route on the fire-road.