Image Credit: Marcin Kempa

With lockdown 3.0 firmly in place and a daily slot of exercise to fill, many of us may have considered exploring the county’s panoramic canal banks and entangled woodlands on the trusted saddle of a bike. With the county and its outer rim providing some ideal spots to get your chains muddied, we’ve compiled some essential cycle trails across all experience levels with some added tips on how to stay safe and respect the lockdown guidelines.    


The Big Track trail:

For the city dwellers, The Big Track trail sits right on your doorstep and matches this convenience with some great views of the canal. David Griffiths is the Chair of Nottingham cycling group, Notts CTC and is a fan of the trail himself. The 70-year-old from West Bridgford said: “This is a 10-mile circuit that should be within the capability of most people. It can be hard to find attractive surroundings for a shorter ride that starts and ends close to the centre of a major city, but this route does succeed in just that with plenty to look at, in terms of scenery, wildlife and activities on the water.

“Finally, there’s a nice cyclist friendly café at Beeston Marina – close to the halfway point and overlooking the river. It should leave even the most apprehensive cyclist wanting more.”

Estimated time: 1 hour 

Distance: 10 Miles

Elevation: 14ft


Sherwood Pines Training Area – Tall Trees Trail

Looking to the North of the county will reveal Sherwood Pines, one of the Midlands’ largest forests. Peppered with cycling loops, the Tall Trees Trail is a worthy off-road course for those not afraid to get their pedals dirty. Featuring a forgiving mixture of singletrack and paved pathways, this loop will provide all the desired thrills of surging through the undergrowth without weighing too heavily on those unacquainted with the loose surfaces.

Estimated time: 1 hour 

Distance: 8 Miles

Elevation: 240ft 


Dover Beck loop

Perhaps you’ve looked at the previous trails and scoffed, perhaps you’re an advanced rider with thighs strong enough to cover a kilometre with a single push of your pedals; well, hopefully, this will be more to your taste. The Dover Beck loop pushes into the county’s Eastern regions, crossing the towns and villages of Lowdham, Oxton, and Southwell across its 34 miles with fabulous views of the River Trent along the way. A sizable length combined with promises of good views is the perfect way to spend a half-day out on the saddle.

Estimated time: 3hrs 11mins 

Distance: 33 miles

Elevation: 650ft


The Vale of Belvoir 

Image Credit: Russ Hamer (click for license link)

Not so much a trail as it is an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Vale of Belvoir breaches the borders between Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. Packed full of riding opportunities, Notts CTC’s secretary Terry Scott explained why the Vale is a riding hotspot. 

The 71-year-old who lives in The Meadows said: “Cycling in the Vale of Belvoir is a delight. with its many quiet lanes and roads plus its mostly flat terrain makes cycling easy. 

“For those who want the challenge of some hills, to the south of the vale is the Belvoir ridge with many opportunities for riders to test themselves on various ascents. In the Vale there are many cafes to have a break for a coffee & chat.”

The Vale of Belvoir introduction trail

With the vale sporting a potential haven for cyclists, David Griffiths constructed a loop for those looking to explore its natural wonder. Mr Griffiths said: “At almost 40 miles, it’s long enough to satisfy the more committed cyclist but not so long as to be beyond cyclists of more limited experience – especially if they take a break to enjoy some refreshments along the way.”

“There’s plenty of nice scenery and good views along the way and the route goes through plenty of nice villages. At Scarrington, in particular, those new to the area will probably want to stop to take a look at the huge stack of horseshoes outside what was once the village blacksmith’s premises.”

Estimated time: 4 hours 10 minutes

Distance: 38 miles

Elevation: 780


Staying Safe 

Knowing where to ride is important but knowing how to be safe, both generally and with respect to the national lockdown guidelines is crucial. Ed Ward, 73, from Gedling has been the club captain of Sherwood Cycling Club for over 50 years and brings some wisdom for keeping safe on the saddle. 

  1. “Keep local. There is no sensible advice on what “local” means. It depends on where you live. If possible, ride from home, but if your local area is unsuitable, then you should drive to gain access to a more suitable, quieter area as near as possible to your home.”
  2. “Any riding should be within your limits of ability and you should be prepared for common mechanical breakdowns i.e. have the ability and equipment to deal with things like punctures to avoid the need for rescue.”
  3. “Avoid busy shared paths, especially at weekends, to distance yourself from others. Maintain two-metre distancing at all times.”
  4. “Try to stick to less busy roads – some traffic is often speeding on main roads, as lighter traffic is a temptation to some drivers.”
  5. “Extra care is needed to avoid burdening the NHS in dealing with accidents. Roads have lots of potholes and winter conditions (mud, water, ice, snow) present more hazards so ride cautiously at a slower pace than usual. Overexertion can affect your immune system so keep your exercise sensible.”