Bike exploring: The New Forest
Brockenhurst New Forest Loop. Just under 12 miles of easy going forest trails and tarmac. A great all year ride, perfect for families. The route starts and stops in the pretty little town of Brockenhurst.
Cycle, walk, scramble, run on Crowden Clough: a perfect family adventure
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We (my 12 year old daughter and I) cycled from Castleton to the start of this adventure, Hope train station, where we caught the Northern Rail train to Edale (just one stop along but taking the train meant we didn’t have to take the energy-zapping pass over Mam Tor).
Our aim for the day was to enjoy an adventure that had some variety: cycling, scrambling and running, but we didn’t want each of the legs to be too demanding (we are not gnarly adventurers looking for hardcore activities after all, just a dad and his daughter wanting a fun and exciting day in the outdoors).
The walk along the stream is easy and fun – lots of stepping stones to negotiate and narrow sections to jump over – but as you get within about 1 km of the summit of the Crowden Clough, ignore the path on the left and keep following the brook to enjoy some exciting scrambling over and between the rocks lining this spectacularly gorgeous gorge. The scrambling gets a little more interesting from now on, particularly the latter section, which requires a short climb/ near vertical scramble for a few metres (make sure you spot any little ones at this point).
On summiting the brook turn and look back down onto your route – you’ll be in for a treat as the view is spectacular and ample payback for the effort you’ve just invested in getting there. On a clear day you can see for miles. On a not-so clear day, it will feel wild, exhilarating and adventurous (so it’s a win-win, really). After appreciating the view, and changing into your trail shoes, head back on yourself (but not down the waterfall this time); go along the path that traverses South West round towards an unavoidable piece of granite that pokes out down the valley back towards Highfield Farm.
Stay on this path until you reach a junction and then take the route that drops down quite steeply to the left and back in a South East direction towards Crowden Brook (ignore the more obvious path that continues to traverse SW).When you reach the water again the gradient flattens off and all you have to do is backtrack your ascent route, get into a decent running stride, and enjoy the stream-side run all the way back down to your bikes at Highfield Farm. Throughout this adventure, keep an eye on the clock and aim to cycle back to Edale to arrive just in time for your return train back to Hope on the Sheffield train.
Hope train station information: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/posters/HOP.pdf
Edale train station information: http://www.thetrainline.com/stations/edale
Tim and his family have taken a year out so they can have some real adventures. You can read more about their travels at dotrythisathome.com
Finish - 10.0 km
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I’m a dad who loves coming up with ideas for how to maximise family time. I encourage my daughters, Amy and Ella, to embrace challenge and opportunities, so – in the spirit of practising what I preach – I very rarely turn down a challenge. It makes for an interesting life!