Trail centre: Natural – Shropshire.
Length: Various, as there are bridleways criss-crossing the hill. Our route was 38.9km (24.2 miles) and took in a lot of the best parts.
Start point: We started from a campsite just outside Church Stretton (441900; 52.503, -2.825). There are car parks closer to the hill if not camping, for example the one at 445944 which we passed through on our route.
Description: The Long Mynd has plenty of excellent riding – so much so that it gets included in books on mountain biking in Wales. Indeed it has a feeling very similar to the Brecon Beacons and Clwyds, and is thought to have a bit of a Welsh name (‘Mynd’ is thought to be a corruption of ‘mynydd’, which means ‘mountain’ in Welsh). We did a three up, three down route (ie. three climbs and three descents) to try to take in some of the best bits.
We did this ride quite a while ago, so my memories of it are a little hazy. I’ll offer what I can based on what I remember, and update it when I get the chance to ride it again.
We approached the hill through Church Stretton on roads, finally making our way into a car park at the foot of Carding Mill Valley, where it became clear that there was a cycling event going on. Three hundred riders were coming down the track that we wanted to climb, which made it an interesting one. Nonetheless we slogged up it, taking a bridleway that doubles back towards the approach road, and loops round the side of the hill. It is worth noting that the bridleways shown on the map do not seem to quite match the ones on the ground, so some of the route is on what appear to be footpaths – but when you reach them are signed as bridleways. Some fun bits of riding eventually lead to a long climb up onto the top of the hill and a track that leads into the top of Carding Mill Valley and our first descent. A long, fast and fun descent made more interesting by drainage channels and the ascending event riders brought us back down to the car park at the foot of the valley, at which point we turned right and made our way onto the road that winds back up onto the mountain.
This was a slog, starting very steep and seeming to go one for a long time, before eventually coming out on the top of the ridge, where we bore left and headed along the spine of the mountain to pick up another misrepresented bridleway back down. Again, plenty of fun high moorland riding and a descent that sweeps around the side of the hills over grass and packed mud.
We got back onto the roads for a bit and headed round top the right to skirt the bottom of the hill and pick up a track that would eventually lead us up to the gliding club at the end of the hill, where ill defined tracks took us up to the top of Minton Batch, a name that should be immediately familiar to anyone looking for some awesome natural riding. Minton Batch is without a doubt the highlight of a ride that is already full of rewarding riding. A singletrack bridleway runs straight down the valley floor from the top of the hill to the bottom, with enough interest to make it a fun ride and to require some skill to ride it well, but at the same time not being so challenging that it breaks up the riding for a bad mountain biker. A packed mud surface with the occasional natural feature make it fast, largely smooth, and a lot of fun.
Good stuff: All three descents, but the diamond is the final run down Minton Batch. Much of the rest of the riding is excellent as well, particularly the first section around the hill from Carding Mill Valley car park.
Difficult stuff: Not too much. The road climb is a little gruelling, and three significant climbs in a ride saps your energy quite badly, but it’s more than made up for by the rest of the riding.
Verdict: Outstanding. Worth riding purely for Minton Batch (it’s quite possible to do shorter loops to take this in), but equally there’s a huge amount of great riding to be had.