Five new trails (7 Shreds, Sweet Caroline, Funky Chicken, Harden Up and Syked Out) were officially opened on April 16 2022 adding 10 more kilometres of trail to the Wild Mersey Trail Network.
I headed up for a ride not long after (23 April 2022) as a bit of a side detour to a trip up to the North East.
I parked down by the public toilets near the main street (near where the Railton - Sheffield railway route (the Railton Rattler comes out) and then did a pleasant circuit riding up Teleport and Sheffield Way to Newbed Road, and then down Super Hornet and Easy Tiger to link into Pony Up which got me to the bottom of the new trails.
From there I basically followed my nose up Sweet Caroline and Harden Up (you know you've switched between the two when you pass the signed track to your right to 7 Shreds which is bemusingly a one way connection). After a short connection along Blue Tongue, it was back down Funky Chicken (described as flowing technical) and then 7 Shreds
to get me back to where I started.
From there it was a fast and fun ride along Woodhocker, up Ewoks (always a favourite - how can an uphill ride just be so good) and then back to the car via the Railton Rattler.
All up it was about 35kms and taking it easy, with photo stops etc. took me about 3 hours.
Thoughts on the new trails?
Climb trails aren't usually something I get excited about, but I found Sweet Caroline to have a nice mix of grade and forest types, but I just didn't really enjoy Harden Up at all. True to its name, I needed to harden up as it was pretty punchy and tight in a few places and maybe I was running out of puff - and maybe losing my chain and getting covered in oil trying to get it unjammed didn't help either
Similarly, I could have taken or left Funky Chicken (maybe next time I'll be braver and try Syked Out) but more likely I'd cut my climb at the top of 7 Shreds because I loved that trail. Even for a trail chicken like me who likes his tyres to be mainly attached to the ground, I found myself regularly getting air on this trail while feeling safe and loving it.
I still don't quite get why they haven't made sections of Blue Tongue two way so you can head to the Kimberley viewpoint and then return down the track to ride Syked Out or Harden Up without having to do a much longer circuit, but maybe there is a method to their design that I am yet to see from this one ride.
Overall I really enjoyed the loop, and would add in Sweet Caroline and 7 Shreds whenever going through this way - but each to their own and lets all agree that having a mix of trails to chose from is good.
What I did find strange was being there on a sunny Saturday afternoon over Easter just one week after the trails opened - and I only saw one other group of three riders on the entire circuit, and there were six cars parked in the Railton trailhead, none on Newbed Road and only one near the top of Ewoks. Maybe they all got a memo I didn't, but I just expected to see more people there.
My strava route is here if you want to see it.