Type of ride: MTB or Cyclocross
Distance options: 30km or 50km
Elevation gain: 30km ride 1112 ft, 50km ride 1807 ft
Max elevation: 30km ride 558ft, 50km ride 587ft
Terrain & conditions: mud mud mud
October hails the time of year that a little village in the vale of Belvoir hosts the annual Viking Challenge bike ride. The event is actually the local schools main annual fund raiser and has helped to pay for lots of great things.
The ride is very near to me so it’s a mtb event I look forward to every year. I can just roll out of bed at the bed at the last minute and not have to worry about overnight accommodation.
It is challenging and in 2017 I took part with a mate and both of our sons who were only 8 at the time. It wasn’t easy but they loved every minute so if you are thinking about doing it with younger ones it’s definitely doable, great fun and very rewarding for the youngsters! (great parenting).
The Viking Challenge Ride Details
This ride takes you around the villages sitting in the shadow of Belvoir Castle and claims to be the UK’s biggest off-road cycling events. It takes in some fantastic views of the beautiful Vale of Belvoir whilst getting you rather dirty in the process!
There are two Viking Challenge routes each year covering 55k and 30k distances depending on how fit you are or how much punishment you want to put yourself through – depending on which way you look at it! Note: Both ride options follow the same route at the start and the end.
Whilst they do change the route (and I believe this year 2018 there is a new route for the Viking Challenge) this is a great MTB ride around the Vale of Belvoir regardless. So if you live anywhere within 50 miles it’s a decent day out with plenty of great country pubs along the way – a great excuse to enjoy a pint and a Sunday roast as well. I’ve also created a GPX and TCX files for the routes you can download at the end of this post.
The Start Line
Postcode of the start line NG13 0GL (Redmile primary school). On the day of the Viking Challenge there is a big marquee in the grounds. This is the registration point for the ride and at the end of the ride, cake! (Obviously if you are doing the ride during the week don’t go and get yourself arrested walking around the school looking for cakes!)
Also at the start line there is a nice pub called The Windmill Inn and if you are looking for accommodation below is a few local options for you:
- Greenman cottage
- Peacock farm the paddock
- Belvoir caravan and campsite
- Cherry tree holiday cottage
- Belvoir B&B at Woodside farm
Lets get going! (first section same for both rides)
From the school entrance head out in a south easterly direction down main road towards Belvoir Castle and straight over the crossroads. Make your way up towards Belvoir Castle and watch for a left hand turn a few hundred yards up from the crossroads. Take the turn and cycle past Belvoir Fruit Farms. At this point the road begins to turn into a tractor trail and you see first signs of mud if the conditions are poor.
So far the ride has been fairly flat and not too muddy. In 2017 the next part of the ride was the beginning of the thickest, tackiest mud you’ve ever seen. It clung to your tyres to the point where it stopped your wheels turning and broke many derailliers!
Go through the gate and get up onto the bridge riding over the canal. The gradient begins to increase as you ride up a single path which might be quite challenging depending on the conditions. Keep following this path up through a clearing and past a couple of houses and farms.
This is the point where the two ride options split and go separate ways. Click here to follow the 50km ride or continue reading to follow the 30km ride.
Second Section 30km Ride
Keep cycling until you reach Denton lane. Take the right hand turn at the end of the lane, riding down the road into Harston. You are now following the 30km ride.
Take the first left down Croxton lane and follow it all the way to Croxton road. Join the main road and ride in towards Croxton Kerrial. Look for a right hand turn onto chapel lane. As you ride down chapel lane the road gradually narrows and begins to turn into a nice hard surface single track decent before then hitting softer terrain next to a fenced off area. Continue along the path, selecting a low gear as there is a decent climb approaching.
This climb takes you into Branston where you can reward yourself with a pint and bite to eat at The Wheel Inn when you get there. You are probably 2/3 of the way round the 30km course at this point.
Refreshed and back on the bike.
With your back to the pub turn left following Branston road. This curves round to the left after a few hundred yards and turns into a track again with hedgerow on your left. This is another tough another incline which you need to follow all the way along to the road at the end.
After a while it joins another long drive way but just keep riding straight with the hedgerow now on your right. At the end of the path turn left to briefly join the main Belvoir road before you need to right onto another track – tofts lane.
Follow tofts lane all the way along until just before you reach the wooded area where there it branches round to the right. Take that turn into the forest – you should see a gate in front of you with a style to the right.
From here you are on the home run. Follow the path through the forest. It undulates a little and there are a couple of minor inclines and a decent down through a field where it joins the main road. Turn left and ride down the main road towards Belvoir Castle.
Take the next left just after the helipad opposite the car park. This is a nice fast decent all the way down to the cross roads. Straight over the cross roads and head back into Redmile.