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Swinley Forest Mountain Bike Centre

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3.8 (43)
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43 reviews

 
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(25)
 
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(2)
Overall rating 
 
3.8
Grin Factor 
 
4.0  (43)
Trail Variety 
 
3.6  (43)
Skills Development 
 
3.8  (43)
Trail Quality  
 
4.0  (43)
Facilities 
 
3.8  (42)
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Ratings
Grin Factor
Level of fun had, or to be had
Trail Variety
Variety of specific trail or overall trail centre. Mix of obstacles, berms, jumps, drops, shore etc.
Skills Development
Did it develop or push your skills and leave you with more to come back and learn
Trail Quality
Are the trails well built /maintained using sustainable techniques?
Facilities
From cafe post ride grub to bike wash. Did it meet your expectations?
User Review
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43 results - showing 1 - 10
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Swinley - not bad for a London day trip
(Updated: October 01, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
3.5
Grin Factor 
 
3.5
Trail Variety 
 
3.5
Skills Development 
 
3.5
Trail Quality  
 
4.0
Facilities 
 
3.0
The blue is a well built trail that is good for novices and families. It has all the hallmarks of its designer Rowan Sorrell and other blues he has designed like the Verderers at the FOD as it is wide, has flow and a few rollecoaster descents with big berms.

The Red takes in a lot of the old favourites like tank traps, labrynth and so on and that is great but felt a lot of the new trail was quite flat with too much fireroad. There is one neat new section (15) which is a rollercoaster. Overall though i'd like to have seen a bit more development on the Red and some more gnarly sections. Some of the new sections in 2014 get really muddy and sticky.

Lacks a black and at last a bike park is on it's way.

When you join the blue and red together as one trail they are a full 24km giving a decent work out.

User Review

Good Points
Flow
Berms
Drains well
Good for family and novices
Bad Points
Very pedally
Not enough gnarl
No Jump Gulley
Gets tedious after a few rides
Would you recommend?
Yes
S
#1 Reviewer 89 reviews
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South East's newest Trail centre. A source of much optomism!
Overall rating 
 
4.8
Grin Factor 
 
5.0
Trail Variety 
 
4.5
Skills Development 
 
5.0
Trail Quality  
 
5.0
Facilities 
 
4.5
Swinley Forest Mountain bike trails have been recently restored by Rowan Sorrell and the Back on Track Guys responsible for some of the best trail Centres in the UK such as Afan, Brechfa and the Forest of Dean and I have to say they have done a fantastic job! Swinley was always great but you had to know where to go and in winter it was a bit of a gloopy mess. This changed, when after 4 month of development the new trails opened. What you now have are 3 routes. A green route for young families, a Blue for intermediate and a red for more advanced, with the blue and red being stackable routes so that you start on the blue and then divert off mid way round to do the red, then finish on the second half of the blue.

In terms of the trails, what you get is a mixture of natural singletrack on the red, which is largely the older, well known trails such as tank traps and the Labyrinth and a nearly all new blue run which is an all weather, man made hooliganism blast with berms, table tops and lots of flow! In summary I love it! Its quick enough to do a quick lap after work but engaging enough to make you feel like you have had a work out!

The facilities are excellent, and only the lack of a bike wash prevented it getting 5 out of 5.

With the lack of other traditional trail centres in the South East I expect Swinley to come to the forefront of Mountain Biking in the South East. As our sport becomes more main stream its trails are great for people looking to get into the sport as well as seasoned people already in the know.

I recommend that you check it out as soon as you can!

User Review

Good Points
Awesome Blue Trail. One of the best in the UK
Fast and flowing sections provide THAT grin factor
Great facilities
Bad Points
No Bike wash
Would you recommend?
Yes
M
Top 100 Reviewer 2 reviews
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Hugely improved - now a trail centre
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Grin Factor 
 
4.0
Trail Variety 
 
3.5
Skills Development 
 
3.5
Trail Quality  
 
4.0
Facilities 
 
3.0
Swinley has now officially become a trail centre. Years of being maintained by hard-working pixies and maintaining a growing popularity eventually took its toll and the Crown Estate had to step in. They've ploughed a lot of money into weather proofing some of the existing trails and building new ones - and the result is fantastic.

A blue and red loop that stack on top of each other, with a green loop just to get families started. This has become the perfect place to take your friends and family who aren't sure about how much they love MTBing, and letting them realise they do! The blue has a few sections to challenge newer riders, but is mostly aimed at putting a huge grin on riders of all abilities. The red has a lot of the old favourites in and more technical challenges for better riders taking sections at speed. A remarkable amount has been done with the gradient available and the rumour has it there's more to come, with TrailTeamSwinley taking the reigns on development.

For the old-timers there's still trails available in Crowthorne Woods with a more natural feel, but as with the old Swinley: you'll need to know where to look.

I don't know if it's worth the long travel times that some of the Welsh trail centres justify, but if you're in the area it's well worth a small detour.

User Review

Good Points
New trails are very weatherproof - the sandy surface will munch your drive-train, but it won't hinder your progress
Some signage should ensure you won't get lost any more
Brilliant flowing singletrack - the blue will make you look good!
Bad Points
No free bike wash (£1 in the hire place, though not advertised)
Cafe could do with more impressive and cheaper cakes!
Finding a parking space on busy days
Would you recommend?
Yes
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 4 1
Busy trail centre serving a big population
Overall rating 
 
3.2
Grin Factor 
 
3.0
Trail Variety 
 
3.0
Skills Development 
 
4.0
Trail Quality  
 
3.0
Facilities 
 
3.0
One of my locals which has changed a lot over the years, in particular since effectively turning it into a proper trail centre with new official trails designed by Back on Track.

User Review

Good Points
Good distance of trails considering the size of the forest and if you're into pedalling up there's some good use of the limited elevation. The up means some down, and fun sections with a number of air time options with not too much effort required, if over a bit too quick.

Green, blue and red trails. Difficulty is in the main based on distance & climbing only.

Mix of old and new trails mixes the style up a bit and variety with flowing singletrack to trails such as Labyrinth with a maze of twisty trails in a very small area.

Jump gully is a popular spot and easy for beginners to practice on. Some short DH-ish runs dotted about also.

All weather surfaces on the trails have made it far less of a bog to ride.

As a trail centre now it's hugely popular and is boosting the take up of off road cycling. It's great to see new riders, kids and families having a go.

Night riding opportunities (note car park shuts 8.30pm in summer, 6pm in winter, but you can get out once in).

Home of the Bird bikes, and you can demo them there ;)
Bad Points
Trailcenterisation (made up word) has maybe lost some of the charm it used to have. It used to be a network of trails scattered about to explore and mix up to make whatever route you liked. Now it's a formal trail network which is run by everyone in one route, direction and flow. If you're a regular you may get bored of it.

Busy at weekends during peak hours. Mainly an issue with the car park which gets crammed but you may be bumping into each other on the trails. Generally people play nicely together but there are some who seem to be obsessed with their Strava runs at times ;)

Linking fireroad sections can get boggy in the wet.

"Stickler" (Blue 10) is very tedious ;) . It always was. Pedal loads to get enough speed to go round those berms as there's no elevation to carry the speed.

The all weather surfaces are very rough "cobbly" in feel due to stones in the hard pack.

Walkers, dog walkers, families having picnics... on the trails. To be fair there are no signs preventing non riders from going on bike specific trails.

Cafe busy, slow and overpriced.

Parking fees - Won't bore you too much with my opinion of Bracknell Council cashing in with Swinley parking fees ;) . To be fair the charges aren't high for an occasional day out. Annual prices are huge though. The council also depends largely on fines for revenue from Swinley so be very careful to not overrun the time and don't park outside of bays.

Car park is a bit of a hot spot for theft. Don't leave bikes on a rack while you pop in for a coffee or use the toilets.

Infamous yellow sand! ;)
Would you recommend?
Yes
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 4 1
Local User
Overall rating 
 
3.4
Grin Factor 
 
3.5
Trail Variety 
 
3.0
Skills Development 
 
3.5
Trail Quality  
 
4.0
Facilities 
 
3.0
I like Swinley but I'm a little tainted by the fact they are trying to make people use only the fireroads and groomed trail. There used to be maybe thousands of km of trails in there and after 5 years I was still discovering places but when they built the groomed runs they ploughed them up or felled trees over them :(

So let's talk about the groomed trails. There aren't many; 3 to be precise - a green, a blue and a red. The green is great for kids starting out but too short and the jump to blue is too much in my opinion. You often see kids and parents who don't cycle regularly struggling and blocking the way on the early part of the blue and some of it is fast. You get some silly behaviour on a busy weekend - people parking on the outside or just in the middle of corners on descents. By half way round the blue the muppetry has gone back to the lookout. That's not really a fair comment it's because the green is insufficient for novices and they probably end up put off by the blue. They need a few greens, some a decent length. The blue is good in parts but there is, in my opinion, a long tedious flat bit just before the red - it's just too twisty and the same for no particular reason and just doesn't feel right. The red isn't harder than blue really there are a couple of bits that are and some of the descents have more potential for getting it wrong but not if you exercise some self control! The best thing about the red is that you don't get people parking on it.

One thing to watch out for on blue and red is that some of the berms are too short. Once you start upping the pace you find you can run out of berm which forces a messy exit onto the straight at a funny angle. You kinda get forced off the berm before you finish turning.

In summary well worth a visit and excellent if you've not been spoilt by how it was before. Why couldn't they leave the old trails as well? I'm a bit sad by the amount of tree felling recently not sure why - is it harvested? Not sure if it's a true working forest.

User Review

Good Points
It's close to me.
It has a cafe.
Not much mud as sandy ground.
Lots of trees or there were - they keep disappearing
Bad Points
They destroyed a lot of the "natural" trails
The coffee in the cafe is awful
On a good day it's hard to park
Would you recommend?
Yes
I
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Swinley every time
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Grin Factor 
 
5.0
Trail Variety 
 
5.0
Skills Development 
 
5.0
Trail Quality  
 
5.0
Facilities 
 
5.0
I was told the first time that the car park gets full and the trails are full.
Not the case, as the site is a family orientated, play ground, go ape, walkers, runners, the site does get full BUT MTBers are of the same breed and I've never had problems with meeting other riders, slower or faster than myself.

User Review

Good Points
Only £4 to ride ALL DAY.
Lots of space to ride allowing for many to ride without lining up to ride.
Big variety of riding, fast, slow, twisty, climbs.
Lovely fast flowing berms.
Superb maintained trails dispite car park fee is for the council !!!!!!!!
Bike hut for essentials.
Tea, Coffee and CAAAAAAKE.
Bad Points
Get there early on the weekend as the car park gets rammed.
Signage on fire roads to get to red trails.
Car Park fee DOES NOT go towards the trail up keep.
Would you recommend?
Yes
A
Report this review Comments (1) | Was this review helpful to you? 2 0
Overall rating 
 
4.6
Grin Factor 
 
5.0
Trail Variety 
 
4.0
Skills Development 
 
5.0
Trail Quality  
 
4.5
Facilities 
 
4.0
As a new rider, I honestly don't think there's too much of a difference between the green and blue! Mountain biking is supposed to be hard isn't it?
Swinley has been great for me growing my skills and confidence! I'm looking forward to the day I feel ready to tackle the red loop and am fit enough to take of a "purple" blue-red-blue which I've heard so much about.
The trails hold up well in the wet, better than the car park actually, and the consistent work put in by the guys running it is obvious!

Super stoked this is my local centre!

User Review

Good Points
Trails good in wet or dry
On site cafe (the coffees not that bad!)
Cheap parking
Great for all abilities
Bad Points
Local dog walkers!
Sign posting could be clearer.
Would you recommend?
Yes
M
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Red and Blue fun
(Updated: April 21, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Grin Factor 
 
4.0
Trail Variety 
 
3.0
Skills Development 
 
4.0
Trail Quality  
 
4.0
Facilities 
 
3.5
Went this weekend for the first time since the trails have been finished. They've done a good job with the signage and surfacing and both trails take in most of the good bits of the legacy trails. The Blue trail is good for everyone and if you are an experienced rider try riding it as quick as you can for a good buzz.

Some really good fun sections on the Red trail, glad to see that the Deerstalker / babymaker runs are still in action too, really good fun.

User Review

Good Points
Well marked
Trails well surfaced
Cafe
Bad Points
Parking can be busy
Cafe expensive
Would you recommend?
Yes
Swinley Blue & Red route - Spring 2013 - www.southdownsmtbskills.com
H
Top 50 Reviewer 7 reviews
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It ok
Overall rating 
 
1.5
Grin Factor 
 
1.5
Trail Variety 
 
2.5
Skills Development 
 
1.5
Trail Quality  
 
0.5
Facilities 
 
1.0
Watch out for the phantom belcher

User Review

Good Points
Ok for an XC hack and people of low skill set
Bad Points
Terrible polished pebbled material used to build trails and when wet the sand Base will destroy your drive chain and bearings. It's a super smooth yellow brick Road with minimal features. If you just ride the blue and red it's pretty dull after a few trips there. Could do with some development.
Would you recommend?
No
H
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 2 0
Great local facility
Overall rating 
 
4.2
Grin Factor 
 
5.0
Trail Variety 
 
3.5
Skills Development 
 
4.5
Trail Quality  
 
4.0
Facilities 
 
3.5
The Golden Retriever makes a good post ride drink / meal!

User Review

Good Points
It is amazing how they fit it all in!

Very close to my place of work, and so ideal for a post work Monday night ride. At this time of day (even in the summer), the trails are very quiet.

The facilities are excellent, and the more I have ridden here, the better I ride!

Fantastic value, as it is just the cost of parking.
Bad Points
As good as it is, I think I would get bored of it after a while.

It would be great if there was a way to do evening hire for bikes (for mates that don't have an MTB)
Would you recommend?
Yes
MJ
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 2 1
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