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The 5 Best Dirt Bike Trails In The UK

Vic Womersley September 7, 2023

If you love motorcycles and being out in the open air, an exploration of dirt bike trails in the UK will make you grin! Perfect in rain, hail, snow or sunshine, these tracks combine adventure with a great opportunity for developing and rounding out your riding skills. Exploring them is a great way to spend a weekend or half a day.

Many of the UK’s trails and green lanes are classified as Byways Open To All Traffic (BOATs). Although they feel ‘off-road’, technically, they’re not. The 6,000 or so miles of BOATs were at some point regular roads. In many ways, BOATS still are legal roads. Although you won’t find many cars out there, you’re likely to come across walkers, horse riders, 4WD drivers, farmers and cyclists.

Because BOATs are technically roads, you need to be road-legal to ride them. That means your licence and dirt bike’s power-to-weight ratio need to match in compliance with motorcycle licencing rules. The only exception is if you’re riding on private land and have the landowner’s permission to be there. 

The public right of way network of BOATs has some astounding terrain. Not all of it is great for trail riding, but a lot of it is. It’s important to make sure you stick to the areas designated as public highways. This will preserve the environment and habitats you’re riding through. We’d recommend taking a proper ordinance survey explorer map along with you, it’s easy to get lost in the wilds when you’re having so much fun! 

Eager to get out there and give it a shot? Read on for our list of favourite dirt bike trails in the UK. 

Peddars Way – one of the best beginner dirt bike trails in the UK

The flat coastal area in Norfolk is home to Peddars Way. This BOAT around Holme-next-to-the-Sea is great for beginner trail riders. Looking ahead of your front wheel is made a little easier, thanks to the straight ancient Roman road. And the flat landscape, of course.

Expect level sandy trails that are mostly dry. Be careful not to get ahead of yourself and push harder than you should on non-tarmacked surfaces. There are a few fords to make a splash with and the landscape switches between confir forests and open heathland. OS Explorer Map 252 has all the details needed to keep you on track for this half-day trail ride.

Salisbury Plains – a selection of trails for all trail riders

Salisbury Plains is 300 square miles crisscrossed with ancient road networks, many of which have been given BOAT status. The Ministry of Defence encourages the BOATs and MOD roads to be used by those looking for some outdoor fun. However, they also use Salisbury Plain for training exercises and live firing, so pay attention to red flags and signs when using these favoured dirt bike trails in the UK.

Salisbury Plain & Drove Roads 

OS Explorer Map 130 and the Landranger 184 Map cover Salisbury Plains and Drove Roads. Explorer maps are more detailed but cover fewer square miles. Thanks to the Ministry of Defence areas, this isn’t a place to get lost in. It’s best to go with a guide or a detailed map to keep you safely on track.

Expect lots of mud and slippery chalk hiding beneath. The trails are perfect for trail riders with a little more experience. Deep water holes, empty straights and endless trails are a favourite for medium to experienced trail riders. Deserted villages and abandoned tank wreckage are another great feature of this dirt bike trail in the UK. 

Fosse Way, Salisbury Plains and beyond

Stretching from Exeter in Devon to Lincoln in Lincolnshire, Fosse Way is another ancient Roman Road that lends itself well to dirt biking. The section in Wiltshire is mainly BOAT cut by quiet country lanes. OS Explorer Map 179 has most of what you’ll need covered.

The trails are light and not too tricky, but you will need to watch out for ruts hidden by long grass and a particularly rocky Ford. A long weekend can easily be lost exploring this section of the ancient road. Expect to come across other countryside lovers while you’re navigating this track.

Kentish Downs BOATs for trail riding

Some of the best dirt bike trails in the UK are shared with mountain bikers and 4WD enthusiasts. Kentish Downs is one of these, although that’s not to say you’ll find it crowded. North Downs Way is a mix of BOATs and quiet lanes, perfect for dirt biking. Starting at Farnham the trail stretches 153 miles to Dover. It can be picked up in sections, or ridden from start to end over a long weekend.

There are other sections of BOAT trails to explore too. Expect dusty trails and ruts that turn into muddy puddles when the weather gets wet. Of course, there’s chalk beneath the mud too. Deep rutted puddles and wide open sections contrasted by wooded areas keep things interesting for riders. 

Peak District circular dirt bike trail

The Peak District in South Yorkshire is breathtaking by anyone’s standards. Here you’ll find a perfect circular route ideal for a half-day ride. It traverses rocky paths, crosses rolling fields and takes in the infamous Cat and Fiddle stretch of winding road between Buxton and Macclesfield. This particular section of road made it into our top 5 UK motorcycle rides a few years back.

OS Explorer Map 1 includes the whole route, along with many other BOATs worth exploring on your trail bike.

How to ride dirt bike trails in the UK without your own trail bike

Even if you’ve got your UK motorcycle licence, you may never have ridden on dirt bike trails in the UK. Dirt bikes, or trail bikes, are different to road bikes. Road bikes look far more compact than dirt bikes. That’s thanks to the most obvious difference — the wheels and suspension. Dirt bikes have thinner wheels and an advanced hydraulic suspension system. The narrow knobbly tires are perfect for pushing through dirt, rocks and mud. The advanced suspension cushions riders over rough terrain. 

Not having your own trail bike doesn’t mean you can’t try trail riding. Phoenix Trails offer a range of trail biking sessions for beginners and experienced riders. Sessions come with bikes and all the necessary riding kit. You’ll just need to bring yourself, your full motorcycle licence (A or A2 level), and a bite to eat if you choose a full day of riding.

Interested riders can choose from 90-minute taster sessions or sign up for a full day starting out at 9 am. As with most things, it’s advisable to start at the beginning and work your way through to the extended level 3 trail riding days. If you’re interested in riding with us, get in touch with our team for the low down.


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