I’ve ridden around Church Stretton a couple of times before. The town has a nice feel and there are some cracking singletrack trails up on the Long Mynd. The Mynd is a beautiful, long ridged hill intercut with spurred valleys and it seemed to me that it would make a good location to run some skills courses. With this in mind I went down to meet Al and Kate this week, who run Plush Hill Cycles in the middle of Church Stretton.

Here's Kate being very happy

Plush Hill is a local feature in the landscape and makes a pretty cool name for a bike shop. The shop opened in May this year and is packed with juicy bits. There are bikes from Ghost, Ragley, Saracen, Transition and Norco packed into every corner. Al very kindly took the afternoon off work, leaving Kate to run the shop, to go riding with me and show me round. He didn’t take much convincing. We had beautiful sunshine and buff trails, which really showed off the Mynd at its best.

Stunning views from the top. Apparently it's always like this!

Al has been developing a very positive relationship with the National Trust and the Shropshire Countryside Service to promote mountain biking on the Long Mynd. New sections of trail have been opened up as rights of way for bikes and the whole area is included in a really good trail map which is available for free. The trails are even marked out on the ground with numbered marker posts. Impressive stuff. Let’s hope the National Trust look to develop mountain biking in other areas that they manage like they have here.

It's all on the map which you can pick up free in the shop

...and it's all marked out on the ground

During the day I saw some excellent sections of trail that will be perfect for using in skills courses. Lots of singletrack, natural sheep cropped grass rollers, rocky sections, water splashes, climbs and really fun descents. Great views are all around and the middle of town is never far away for when we need lunch, or bike shop services, as well as the all important Great Rock ‘debrief’ with a beer at the end of the day.

Sweet singletrack down Minton Batch

The first courses that I will be running will be in the spring next year. 19th and 20th March will see Stop Crashing Level 1 and Level 2 respectively. Either day can be booked on its own or you can do both days to make a weekend of it. Details are here.

Click here to see some more photos.