True Blue at Sutton Bank
9.4 miles Blue graded trail (fully signed)
Suitable for novices on a good bike, with developing handling skills
Car Parking, toilets and refreshments at Sutton Bank Visitor Centre, just off the A170 between Thirsk and Helmsley. Sutton Bank Bikes also provide cycle hire.
We've been keeping an eye on developments at Sutton Bank. Adrian had mentioned earlier in the year how the plan was to open up some signed and graded natural trails. So as soon as the new blue route came on stream I popped up with junior to try it out.
The short blue, as it's now listed, it a great amble across the escarpment, with some good field edge trails thrown in; all nicely surfaced with chippings where necessary, providing an excellent surface. The route starts off near the visitor centre and heads off into the woods, providing a great little section through trees, before opening up and crossing the gallops on its way to the escarpment.
The narrow rolling track that leads along the top of WhitestoneCliff is superb, rising and falling and twisting its way along with great views across the Vale of York. It provides and excellent introduction into XC mountain biking for all ages.
On our first visit the extended Fort Trail wasn't open, and we were informed by Ewan that it was due for opening the very next day - another trip required then! Josh was very happy with this, as we also planned to get him a new bike before returning, as I'd noticed his knees were around his chin as he rode along. The bank of mum and dad required a withdrawal again.
Two weeks passed, during which we went to Big Bear Bikes at Pickering for a brightly coloured bike - the brighter the better by all accounts; and we finally made it back to Sutton Bank on the May Bank Holiday weekend. New bike in hand, Josh was raring to go and as we turned right at the escarpment onto the new section, he naturaly adopted the 'attack' position on the bike and rolled along and down into the lower sections and the trees.
The new section not only adds more miles, but also brings in some great little descents, with a good measure of technical stuff to test the novice on. Some tight, twisting singletrack is soon followed by fast descents to the trees, before the fire road climbs and provides the long haul back up to the escarpment. The final climb back up is on steep and tight singletrack, where good gear choice is the order of the day for the younger riders. Kendal Mint Cake helps here!
Once back up to the edge, it's a simple case of rolling along at speed on singletrack, as this narrow path rises and falls with interest, all the way back to the centre; finishing on a great little section through trees, built to give a trail centre introduction to the novice rider.
Overall thoughts - great stuff! A perfect riding experience for everyone. Yes, it's a blue route, but the new extension to it is no picnic and has some intersting sections for everyone. If you love XC and want to get the kids into it, then this is definitely the place to go.
Our google map below is all you need, as the route is well signed from the visitor centre. We've created it from memory, as we haven't yet ridden it with a GPS. However, for those that like a gpx file, we'll be updating it shortly.
click here to see some more images of the route.