This local route I ride quite regularly and although it’s relatively short, includes some pretty fast descents and challenging climbs. Another reason I like this Mountain Bike Route is because I believe it’s about 95% off-road!. It’s also worth noting there are now some quite interesting metal sculptures to see near Silverdale Country Park.
The route begins on the former Stoke-Market Drayton line which is now a dedicated cycle lane. You can also view my road cycling route which starts on the same cycle lane here: Newcastle to Norton-in-Hales. The cycle lane is relatively smooth-surfaced and well maintained so presents no problems for a Mountain Bike.
Depending on where you join the cycle path we will be continuing on it for approximately 2 miles. The gradient is relatively flat so you can cruise along at a good pace. There is a slight incline during the last ¼ mile just before reaching the gate. The cycle path is generally clean and well kept, but occasionally I’ve noticed broken glass just before the gate, so please bear this in mind when riding here.
After squeezing through the gate you will be able to spot the newly erected Philip Astley memorial sculptures. Philip Astley is regarded as the father of the modern circus and was born in Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 1742. Astley opened his horse riding school in 1768 where he developed the 42ft diameter circus ring, a standard size still used in circus all over the world.
As we continue on the route and go through another gate you will be able to see another new sculpture. This piece represents the Silverdale Colliery Pit Wheel and has been erected in honour of those who worked at the Silverdale Colliery. We then follow the gravel track around the edge of the playing field and into Silverdale Country Park where the ‘proper’ Mountain Bike Route begins.
Silverdale Country Park was developed on the former Silverdale Colliery as part of a restoration project for local people to enjoy outdoor recreation and wildlife. Skylarks can be seen in Springtime and Great Crested Newts can be found in the small pools.
After a few hundred metres there is a short, but very steep and quite loose climb, which I always enjoy climbing as fast as I can. The trail then continues to climb until joining the main track which circles the pool. The track climbs for another ½ mile before ending with a really steep quite challenging finish. This is the best viewpoint of the route with views across the whole park.
We then get to enjoy a nice fast grassy descent which includes quite a sharp left bend. The track passes another small pool and then kicks up slightly before dropping down a short, steep almost rocky descent. These trails are quite popular with dog walkers so just keep that in mind when riding this section.
Once through the gate we start one of the short road sections of the route. When you have reached the top of the short road climb there is an enjoyable fast descent for approximately 0.8 miles. The route then takes a sharp right leaving the road and joining a bridleway. The trail starts off flat, then gradually climbs up and levels out as we enter Bates Wood Nature Reserve.
We continue on the bridleway and enjoy a descent for a short distance. This section of the trail can be quite muddy during spring/winter so check your tyres for wear beforehand!. The track continues for approximately ½ mile passing through a gate before joining a minor road. This road climb is quite short but challenging, with some parts reaching a gradient of 12%.
On reaching the top of the climb we continue on the road for another ¼ mile and then take a left into Apedale Country Park. This park has a small network of dedicated Mountain Bike trails so it’s worth spending more time here. In this particular route we swing left and go down a fantastic long and fast, gravel descent!. Watch out for the very sharp right turn at the bottom of the first section of the descent.
Once around this bend the descent continues for another exhilarating ride down to a gate and the cafe and Heritage Centre. Apedale Country Park is one of the newest parks in the area and is located on the site of the old Apedale Colliery. Shortly after passing the Heritage Centre we take the 2nd trail on the right-hand side of the road.
This gravel track becomes very wet in Spring/Winter so mudguards are highly recommended during this time!. However, in summer you can ride this trail at a good speed. It even includes a short boardwalk section which I feel adds some interest to the riding experience. After a few hundred metres we will take a sharp left and join a smooth dedicated cycle lane.
This cycle lane continues for another mile and includes a short climb and a nice fast downhill section. At the end of the descent is a busy minor road that can be difficult to cross with gates on either side. The route then ends as we rejoin the Stoke-Market Drayton line.
This Mountain Bike route could possibly be ridden on a Cyclo-Cross/Gravel bike, but some of the trails have sections of larger gravel stones. Therefore I would still recommend at least a Hybrid or Rigid Mountain Bike.