The new £400,000 trails at Ashton Court and Leigh Woods are a rare wonder: varied, well-maintained mountain bike trails on the edge of a big city. Ashton Court's blue (moderate) Nova trail loops four miles through woods around the golf course of Ashton Court Estate, giving a rewarding experience to relative novices. It has small rock steps, rollers (bumps) and berms (banked corners), and splits in places to offer red (difficult) challenges. The half-mile red Super Nova trail has step-ups, rock gardens and berm after berm. The Yer Tiz trail in neighbouring Leigh Woods is a narrow blue with berms, rollers, drops and climbs, but is suitable for novices. The short, red Gert Lush trail is narrow and technical, but a good introduction to more challenging riding. The Keener Skills Loop, off the Yer Tiz, has small drops, rock gardens and rollers to practise on.
Terrain and gradients
Ashton Court's newly redesigned trails are probably the best-constructed mountain bike trails in the UK, using a stone-based all‑weather surface designed to shed mud. They occasionally cross walkers' paths, so give a friendly warning as you approach.
How to get there/away
The nearest station is Bristol Temple Meads four miles from Leigh Woods. Or hop on an 8 or 8A a bus from the station and hire a bike at the centre (bike hire from May – phone ahead to confirm). From the bus station, First Bus numbers 357, 358 and 359 to Portishead stop along the A369 at Clifton Lodge entrance (opposite the Clifton suspension bridge). The car park at Leigh Woods has been upgraded and is accessible via a driveway off Abbots Leigh Road.
What to see
Ashton Court Estate extends over 850 acres and in the grounds you'll find its Grade I‑listed mansion, which dates back to the 15th century; a 14th-century deer park and a miniature railway. Stokeleigh Camp is the site of an iron age hill fort in Leigh Woods. Brunel's Clifton suspension bridge is a breathtaking landmark, its Egyptian-inspired towers and 214m of span straddling the stunning Avon Gorge, with the river 75m below.
Ashton Court has a cafe, as will its new £500,000 golf and cycling centre, which is due to open soon. Over the bridge, Clifton has many pubs, cafes and restaurants. Try a pint of local cider at The Coronation Tap just the other side of the bridge. Or for a wide range of local draught ales, The Portcullis on Wellington
Terrace is the place.