Category: Cone Forest
What you should know before cycling in a cone forest
A cone forest is a woodland area made up of at least 80 percent coniferous trees. Coniferous trees, or conifers, are predominantly evergreen and are defined as cone bearing trees that have needle like leaves. They typically grow upwards and not outwards, with some conifers being giants of the tree world. The most common conifers in the UK are Hemlocks – such as the Western Hemlock, Pines – such as the Scotts Pine, Spruces – such as the Sitka Spruce, and firs – such as the Douglas Fir. Coniferous forests are not required to be 100 percent conifers, and can include up to 20 percent broad-leaved and deciduous trees.
Temperate regions, such as the UK, are the perfect habitat for a cone forest, and coniferous forests can be found up and down the British Isles. Due to their environment, cone forests enjoy warm summers and cool winters – a nice balance of seasons can be experienced. Despite tropical forests holding the title of the most alive forests in the world, coniferous forests are also full of wildlife and benefit from a wide variety of animals – they have served as sanctuaries for various species of birds and mammal for decades.
Coniferous forests are a major source of soft wood timber and so the introduction of new man-made cone forests has been happening in the UK going as far back as Victoria times. Following the timber shortages of World War 1, many forests were planted up and down the country. Currently, around 7 percent of the UK’s land mass is coniferous forest – that’s over 1,500,000 hectares! It is these man-made forests that provide havens for native species such as red squirrels, goshawks, pine martins and wild cats. Red squirrels survive on the plentiful supply of pine cones available in the cone forest – they eat the seeds from inside the cones.
There are two types of cone forest in the UK dependant upon ownership; the first is privately owned forest, which may belong to a land owner or a private company, and the second is state owned forest, which is looked after by either the Forestry Commission or the Forest Enterprise. It is state owned forest that the general public are most likely to be accessing when visiting woodland areas. Famous coniferous woodland in the UK includes the expansive forests of Snowdonia in Wales and Caledonia in Scotland.
The best way to experience a cone forest, in my opinion, is to get out on your bike. A mountain bike is most suitable, as the suspension and well gripped tyres will help you if you come across uneven and muddy surfaces. Visiting a cone forest on your bike will give you access to some wonderful natural views and sights – such as varied woodland and wildlife. You can take advantage of exciting zigzag routes around trees and get into to some real off-road cycling. It’s no secret why cone forests have been attracting cyclists for decades; the chance to experience beautiful Victorian viewpoints in amongst the trail and spot wildlife in its natural habitat is very special.
Coniferous forests are certainly brilliant natural mixes that cater to all abilities. Various trails will be ingrained into the forest that are suitable for either beginners or experts to follow. The abundance of wildlife will excite riders young and old. Try to watch out for the adorable red squirrel – signs that they’re around will include nibbled pine cones.
The best part is cone forests are open 24-7, 7 days a week and are easily accessible from many entrances. More often than not, they are also completely free!
A few things to consider when cycling in cone forests
Know the weather forecast and make a sensible judgement as to whether it will be safe to venture into the forest that day. The weather in areas such as this can be unpredictable and sometimes volatile.
Take advantage of forest maps and make good use of woodland signs on the trails. Unless you are very knowledgeable about the forest you are cycling in, it is wise to stick to trails as opposed to going completely off the beaten track.
Remember to take care if cycling off road as you are responsible for your own safety. If you do have an accident then the guys at Cycle Claims: Cycle Claims Specialists would be unlikely to be able to help you.
It is wise to carry a compass, as you may need to gain an idea of which direction you are facing in order to plan a route back. Don’t venture too far out of your comfort zone into the forest, especially not alone. If going alone or in a smaller group it is a good idea to make people aware of your whereabouts that day.
You should stay together and be respectful of the wildlife by keeping noise to a minimum. Any gates that you encounter should remain closed and it is wise to keep your eye out for animals and trees on the track, so as to prevent the chance of you colliding and coming off your bike.
Do not negatively affect any of the vegetation in the forest – take all rubbish with you and remember, it is not safe to start camp fires or have barbeques. All in all, a cone forest will provide a very pleasant and exciting natural bike ride so take your camera along and enjoy the ride!