Friday, 8 February 2013

A Grand Day Out

I took the kids cycling in the Forest of Dean last year while my husband was away. It was our first time and I was a bit anxious, because as wonderfully appealing as it sounds, lurking at the back of my mind was the fear I'd end up coaxing them round and pushing bikes up hills. I needn't have worried, it was brilliant.
...ok, so I lied a little to smooth the way.
I didn't tell them how far we were going, and every time they asked if we were nearly there, I said, 'Not long now!' in a cheery voice and pedalled on.
Eleven miles later we were back at the car park - no crying, no coaxing, no pushing - just happy, bright pink faces.
The children loved it so much they wanted to take their dad, which is exactly what we did last sunday.

We hired bikes from Pedalabikeaway at the Cannop Valley centre near Coleford - not cheap for five of us, but they have a great selection for all ages and abilities. Time to get our act together on the bike front I think.

It's a short pedal straight onto the Family Cycle Trail from the centre, and by far and away the best bit of advice I'd pass on is go left! It's a circuit, mainly along old railway lines, and the clockwise route is definitely the easier option. There's a very gentle upward incline at the beginning - hardly noticeable really, apart from a little leg burn; but then again I hadn't been cycling since our last trip here.



The 5 year old was on the back of her dad's on a tag-along. She desperately wanted to have her own bike, but I'm so glad we didn't give into the nagging. There was the potential for untold misery.

Anyway after 20 minutes we broke through the whinge barrier and it was downhill all the way after that. And I mean literally downhill or flat all the way, bar one or two short climbs.


I'd forgotten how much fun it is to whizz along, free as a bird, though I was a lot heavier on the brakes than the boys. A bit of an old scaredy altogether. There are places to stop off if you fancy - former stations and coal mines and a lovely picnic spot near a small lake - but apart from a break for biscuits, we kept going.  Some reviews I've read criticise the lack of clear signs on the Trail, and they could be better, but don't let that put you off. We picked up a route map when we hired the bikes and kept our eyes peeled for posts with a yellow tyre track on them.


The highlight for the boys was the short trails just off the main route for practicing jumps and turns. Complete and utter heaven for them.




There are plenty more demanding bike routes through the Forest for adventurous mountain bikers, but this one was perfect for us - honestly I can't recommend it highly enough. We had tired, happy kids, slightly wobbly legs and a large pile of washing to look forward to!


We also had bacon butties and chocolate brownies at the busy cafe by the bike hire centre. Don't things taste so good when you feel you've earned them?


23 comments:

  1. Ooo we did scout camp at Tintern Abbey a few yrs ago and we took everyone cyckling here, using bikes from the same centre. It were grand...

    ReplyDelete
  2. It looks like a great place to ride, I can't wait till the girls are big enough to go riding with me

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it really is a lovely thing to do with them - a great outdoor adventure!

      Delete
  3. I love trails like these - a perfect family day out! OH is a keen cyclist and we look forward to the day when our tots are old enough for this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. just seen photos of the lovely park near you! Looks like an ideal place to take your little ones cycling when they're older :)

      Delete
  4. The whinge barrier! That really made me chuckle. Looks like you had a fantastic time x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was a little moaning at the beginning, but once they got into the swing of it and hurtled down their first hill the whining stopped!! x

      Delete
  5. Something for everyone! I have not ridden a bike in ages! We are getting a balance bike for my wee man for his 2nd birthday so I guess it won't be long till I have to brush up my skills!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It all comes back quickly - I hadn't been cycling since the trip to the Forest last year. A little stiff the next day though!

      Delete
  6. I love this post, it looks so much fun and you have captured some great actin shots. My problem when we are all out on bikes is that I am so busy enjoying myself I forget to take the pictures! Like you we have some amazing cycle paths which make off road cycling so much more relaxed. Looks like some birthday bikes might be on the cards? Thank you for joining me on Country Kids, I want to get our bikes out now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's the adults who need bikes! And we could do with a bike rack too.
      The problem with clicking away was I was always lagging behind the others - very tempting just to keep going, but I'm glad I took the photos - it's lovely to have them!

      Delete
  7. This looks like so much fun! Mine are too young for this, but I know they'll really enjoy it (and OH is a keen cyclist, commutes by cycle too so he won't need much persuasion!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's going to be great! Such a fun thing to do together when the time's right. Can't wait to go again!

      Delete
  8. That looks like a great place for a bike ride. Lovely pictures too! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. lol at your 'whinge barrier' bit that made me smile a lot! you captured some great cycling shots from your bike ride and everyone looks to be enjoying themselves and they got some fresh air which is always a good thing, isnt it ?

    ReplyDelete
  10. looks like so much fun, great photos xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. This sounds fantastic. Now that my girls are 7 and getting more into their bike riding, I am really starting to hanker for a bike of my own so I can tootle around with them. I'm saving up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jackie - I'm thinking the same thing too, haven't owned a bike for years!

      Delete
  12. That's nearly making me want to get my family out on bikes. When our foot of snow has melted, perhaps, and temperatures are reliably above zero.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. glad it's a little bit tempting :) Weather with you sounds crazy!

      Delete
  13. Sounds like a really lovely day out. I like that you can hire the bikes as well, that's a great idea. You've inspired me to look up similar trails near where I live.

    ReplyDelete