Monday, 16 March 2015

Cycling in Swinley Forest


Once my cards and pressies are opened, and breakfast in bed is polished off, I like to spend at least part of Mother's Day doing something active with my kids and hubby. As the weather is usually getting slightly less awful by this time of year (but only just!) I like to get outdoors and try something a bit out of our comfort zone. Last year it was a spot of horse riding, and this year I decided on some two-wheeled whole family fun in Swinley Forest, Swinley is part of the Windsor Estate between Bracknell and Bagshot, and not too far from me at all. Since we couldn't get all our bikes on our car, and our six-year-old isn't really that keen on cycling long distances on her hand-me-down bike, my other half was able to use the opportunity to work on his run training - and thereby act as backup for slower riders, anyone that falls by the wayside and on-the-spot bike mechanic (well he is signed up for the Henley Highwayman and the Wargrave Sprint Tri, so we're doing him a favour)!

Swinley Forest is owned and managed by The Crown Estate, and offers 1000 hectares of mainly Scots Pine woodland - which you can explore on foot, by bike or even on horseback! It's perennially popular for mountain biking, leisure cycling, running and running events, walking the dog and den building with the kids. It's always busy - but large enough for it not to feel full. There's also a playground, a 'Discovery Centre', a bike hub (for hire, guided tours, clothing etc), a Go Ape 'tree top adventure', pay-and-display parking and - perhaps most importantly if you are cold and tired because mummy made you cycle 7k - a cafe.  

You can actually follow three set cycle trails in line with the International Mountain Bike Association industry standards. These green, blue and red cycle routes all begin from The Look Out Discovery Centre and provide a range of challenges for families cycling for fun to highly skilled riders (and even those into jumps!). We just 'freelanced' however (which means I just set off randomly choosing paths that looked good, and everyone else had to indulge me). We had a good hour zooming up and down a variety of trails, from lovely smooth straight paths to muddy and bumpy tracks, with varying degrees of incline. By the end of our ride/run we were all bright-eyed and busy tailed - although the kids were ready to stop and my toes had got pretty cold too! But of course we finished in the cafe, where the girls happily refuelled with some hot chocolate and muffins, and the grown ups recovered with hot drinks!

How did you spend your Mother's Day? Would you be tempted to brave the March elements for some outdoor fun - or do you enjoy cosy-ing up at home for a well-deserved rest? Let me know in the comment box below!

Proudly taking part in:


#BloggingToJogging
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

12 comments:

  1. This looks interesting! So did you start from the Look-Out Centre? We might try this although annoyingly we can only fit two bikes on our car. We need to investigate new ways of carrying all the bikes, particularly as my son has just learnt to ride of after years of indifference.

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    1. Yes, the Look Out is right by the car park - some of the trails leave from behind there, near an extra bit of parking. You can hire bikes there, so that might be an option? Our youngest wasn't so keen on the idea but one morning here and she's agreeing to a newer bike and more cycling now!

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  2. Awww what a lovely post! Looks like you all enjoyed Mother's Day - always so nice to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the countryside! Sim #BloggingToJogging xx

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    1. Hi! I know, I was wavering because the weather wasn't great, but it's like that saying 'the only workout you regret is the one you didn't take'! Glad we went earlier though - as it was raining later!!! Thanks for commenting.

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  3. What a fantastic idea to get out and do something active, I love it! What a fab place to have close to home too. Thanks for linking with #BloggingToJogging xx

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    1. It's great to use local amenities isn't it! Lovely weather this weekend too.

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  4. Lovely idea! It's great to get out and be active as a family and definitely a perfect way to spend Mother's Day! Thank you so much for linking up to #MummyMonday hope to see you again tomorrow!xx

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    1. Hi - yes otherwise Mother's Day can end up rather too unhealthily! Not that I'm against little indulgences now and again but it is good to work up an appetite for a lovely treat...

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  5. Funnily enough, I had been thinking about going there. Now I just have to convince the hubs that putting all the bikes on the car is worth it! Perhaps he could wait for us in the cafe...

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  6. Looks like a lovely Mothers Day, we went to Chessington World of Adventures on the Saturday so I was quite happy to have a rest on Sunday and hubby cooked a roast dinner!

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  7. Now that is my idea of how to enjoy Mother's Day! Like you getting all the bikes from A to B is the hardest thing so we usually do the moor or the Camel trail from Coombe Mill. Swinley forest looks like a great choice and somewhere to warm up at the end sounds a real treat. Thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids.

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