Oneplanet Adventure is one of Wales' best mountain bike trail centres. It’s located in Coed Llandegla, a beautiful 650 acre forest, planted in the early 1970s, to the west of Wrexham. There’s a wide variety of bike routes from beginners to advanced and there’s also some great walking and trail running routes.
I can remember the first time I came here, getting out of the car with my then 5 and 7 year old and feeling very out of my depth as we took our little mountain bikes out of the car, whilst swarms of men around us tended to their very fancy mountain bikes and pro looking kit! I wondered whether we’d made a mistake coming here, but I needn’t have worried as it was all very manageable and I can remember feeling really proud of the kids completing their first mountain bike trail.
There are 4 designated bike routes you can do, the one for families is the 5km green route which is a fantastic and safe introduction to mountain biking for young children. It’s probably suited to minimum 6+ but they’ll need to be competent bike riders and happy to ride off road, as lots of the route is on stony ground.
From where you turn off on the A542 at the brown signpost, it’s about a mile till you get to the entrance booth (current fee is £5, cash or card). From here you’ll drive into the main car park where the visitor centre is based and from where the trails officially start, if it’s busy though there are a further two areas to park up the hill heading away from the visitor centre. It doesn’t matter where you park because you can easily join the trails from any of the car parks, but I’ve written this on the presumption of starting by the visitor centre here:
Throughout the route there are coloured way markers so you really can’t go wrong, just keep following the green markers and you’ll be fine!
From the start point in the main car park, the first part spirals up a fairly steep path, but this is the longest uphill stretch so don’t be put off, it gets easier! Probably the biggest advantage of parking at the lower levels is that you get that hill out of the way first rather than at the very end when they’re tired and can’t possibly contemplate the ascent for love nor money!
Not long after you’ve made it up the hill, you’ll pass the skills area on your left which has tons of dirt runs and jumps for the riders to play on. My skill level is non existent so I have never had a go on here as I know the end result would not be pleasant, but I wish I had the nerve to as it looks great fun! Me and the kids love to stop here and watch them do their death defying stunts!
Carrying on you’ll ride further into the forest. With it’s dense canopy, it’s very dark and atmospheric, if Gruffalos were to live in a forest in North Wales then it would be here! It really is a pleasure to bike in there with an almost magical feel to it.
After another uphill section there’s a nice view point to look out for (you need to park up and walk a few metres to the boundary) where you can look out onto the surrounding moorlands.
After a while, the green route separates from the blue and red routes which is much better when you’ve got kids in tow, as although the shared path isn’t that busy, you do need to be conscious for fast bikes coming along the path.
You’ll soon come to Pendinas reservoir which probably unbeknown to many, provides drinking water to over 260,000 people in North East Wales and West Cheshire! Think about that next time you’re having a glass of water at home! The path runs around the reservoir in an anti-clockwise direction, it’s roughly halfway round the whole route so it’s a good time to stop for a snack and to throw some stones in the water. If you’re taking a picnic then I’d suggest this would be your best place for it.
The path heads back into the forest and is once again shared with the blue route. The paths are quite narrow so again you’ll need to be mindful of fast bikes coming behind you. One piece of advice is at this point you will pass by the very top car park (which can be reached by driving through the first car park, up the steep hill and keep going till the road ends), if you don’t think your kids are up to the full 5km, then I would park in this car park and start and end the route here.
Continuing on you’ll come to the Pump area, which is a much smaller skills area and slightly more child friendly, but again they will need a decent bike and skill level to have a go.
There’s a nice downhill section after this which goes all the way down to the visitor centre and main car park for a well earned rest! The cafe serves lots of hot food, drinks and snacks, they are renowned for their bacon sandwiches apparently! The space is shared with the bike shop which I haven’t really looked round but it’s got tons of professional looking biking equipment if you’re in the mood for shopping!
Just as a final note, I wanted to add how friendly all the other bikers always are. Many times if I’ve stopped on the side of the track with one of the kids someone will ask if we need any help and I’ve never felt like the kids were getting on anyone’s nerves being slow. They seem a very friendly bunch!
Of all the cycles I’d recommend this would be top of my list, I can’t wait to get back there!