It’s been about two years since I was last at Delamere Forest but went to get some cornering practice in while my broken ribs are healing. I went expecting to find the usual, long term neglected trails but got a small bonus surprise.
For getting there you’ve got options. First up you can get the train – Delamere station is just 500m from the visitor centre. Secondly (and in all honesty the way most riders will get there) you can drive. The postcode for your sat nav is CW8 2JD but parking there is a bit pricey. Normally I’d support paying parking fees as keeping trails running costs money, but the lack of trail maintenance at Delamere coupled with the long distance from the bike park areas means I tend to park along Ashton Road (if you get the right lay-by you’ll be right next to the bike park areas).
For my money Delamere’s a bit of a sleeping giant with a lot of untapped potential. The forest has two family orientated trails coupled with miles of unmarked single track as well as two bike park areas.
Of the two areas, No Brains Bike Park contains the more downhill orientated / dual slalom areas and Manley Hill Bike Park contains a 4x track, neglected pump track and neglected dirt jumps. Those who turn up remembering the north shore of old etc will get a bit of a shock as years of poor maintenance and people digging without much clue how to dig has left it in a bit of a sorry state in places. As a result I generally take a spade when I go to do a bit of repair work in order to ride.
The bonus I got was finding the 4x track has been resurfaced and rides really well though the rest of the place is pretty much the same. There’s one section near the old pump track that has been fenced off which means a couple of mini runs that were there are no longer accessible.
The Delamere soil is sandy and compacts down well to make a hard, fast rolling surface (though the flip side of this is that it also scars easily leading to the maintenance problems). The bike park area runs I’d grade as red and last anywhere up to a minute top to bottom. There’s plenty of jumps, berms and small features around as well as the road gap jump to keep visitors entertained.
Overall Delamere is a good fun place to go and ride with plenty to keep families, beginners and all the way through to experienced riders entertained. I can’t sum the place up without getting back to the potential of the place though. Let someone like Rowan Sorrell loose on there with a bit of money behind them and the results would be spectacular. Hopefully, some day there’ll be a coordinated move towards development of the mountain bike features as it really could be a go to centre for the UK.