Great Britain Mountain Biking – Tom Fenton & Andy McCandlish – Vertebrate Publishing

swaledaleswaledaleOver the years, Vertebrate Publishing have produced a series of area guides to Britains diverse mountain biking landscape. Detailed and authoritative, they’re arguably the best mountain bike guidebooks in the country. This mighty tome however is an attempt to encapsulate all that the UK has to offer, the best of the epics, quick blasts and full day adventures. It’s a tall order but in typical Vertebrate style, they’ve carried it off in some style.

Breaking the UK down into Southern England, Northern England, Wales and Scotland, they’ve nailed their colours to the mast and picked the best rides in each area. This is effectively a prescription for the greatest road-trip of all time wrapped up in one handy package. Each chapter opens with a run down of the peculiarities of the area followed by a detailed description of the classic rides and further riding in less detail cross referenced to the existing area guides. Also covered are trail centres and local accomodation, pubs, tea rooms and bike shops.

Browsing through the book, it quickly becomes apparent that there is faultless logic in producing it. British mountain biking is so varied that there is inevitably something for everyone from a gentle bimble through the rolling countryside of the South Downs to seriously rocky Lake District technicality. Inevitably you end up inspired and I’ve already decided that if I do nothing else this year I’m doing the Torridon High Mountains Route. This is adventurous mountain biking at its very best and I’m nervous already.

It’s a feast for the eyes, covers more riding than most of us will manage in a couple of lifetimes and has me itching to pack the bike in the car and head off to pastures new. A must for the adventurous mountain biker.