Peaslake MTB’ing in the Surrey Hills

Just outside Guildford which was made famous by the Prudential 100 Ride, the Surrey Hills are home to Leith Hill and Box Hill.

Long before the ‘roadies’ used to descend en-masse however, Peaslake was and still is home to some MTB trail gems. It’s a wonderful example of all trail users, walkers, horse riders and cyclists all sharing public access to privately owned woodland.

As such its hugely important to respect the village at its heart, as well as the woodland users and volunteers who help maintain the trails. Make use of the designated car parks (we stopped at Walking Bottom but if you search ‘Hurtwood Control Car Park’ there are plenty to choose from) and remember that the roads into and out of the village are public highways.

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Be prepared….

After parking up and unloading, we coasted from the car park down into the village, then up (and I mean up) Radnor Road and up again at the bridleway gate at Spurfold. They do say what goes up….but it seemed to be never-ending! Hats off to the aforementioned ‘roadies’ that kept winding their way around and around the roads.

This was the first climb, I can honestly say I was ready to quit and we hadn’t even covered half a mile yet! I felt hot and dizzy and had to sit down. Weirdly, we went up the same way after lunch but much easier, must’ve been the amazing sandwich and fresh brewed coffee from the Village Stores.

What’s there?

The trails are dotted throughout the woods with nothing but a few wildlife maps indicating the general area, which is the polar opposite of Hadleigh Park with its trail descriptions and colour coding.

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Although there is a very clear and wide forest track, the entrance to each trail isn’t marked and there is no indication denoting the severity of the trails,so caution is advised. Once on them the way becomes clear but there are roots aplenty serving as kickers and well-built berms, so take it easy until you know each trail well.

You build speed amazingly quickly and there are plenty of hazards on the way down. Fortunately if you keep your head up, there’s always a way round them but it helps to follow someone down a few times.

We managed to ride ‘Yoghurt Pots‘ with a hidden drop near the top and some slightly loamy tighter turns interspersed with rooty off-camber sections through the trees; ‘Telegraph Row‘ which although straighter,  proved very rooty requiring more pedaling and careful line choice; and ‘Barry Knows Best‘ which was more open and swoopy with well packed but stony berms (my favourite not least because it led straight back to the Village Stores).

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Verdict

Someone said it would be Cross Country so I rode a 26″ wheel XC Hardtail with 120mm up front but full suspension would definitely suit better. Grippy tyres are a must, forego the fast rolling rubber and exploit your bike’s suspension and grip. These are proper trails that need a proper bike. Get a bike that can climb well and preferably some legs to match and you’ll enjoy it.

peaslakefatbikeThere were Fatbikes about and judging by the look on the riders faces, drag wasn’t an
issue, using the wide rubber to gain confidence was what it was all about. We even saw some E-bikes….but don’t scoff! It seemed to be the perfect way to ease the climbing and maximise the fun, I know I was looking on with envy.

There were plenty of friendly experienced riders around but if it’s your first time, my best advice is warm up gently and ride at your own pace. I obviously need to get out more as me and my riding buddy were left on the first climb out of the village, but thanks to Lee @OTECBikes for checking on us and also Mark and Dave ‘Balders’ for guiding us through the day (and the pics).

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Definitely needs a few visits to find your way about but don’t be put off. Rest when you have to, walk up the climbs if you need to and take lots of water. Most of all, persevere….I promise it’ll be worth it and remember it’s your ride.

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