Route guide no. 3: NORTHANTS | Fineshade Wood Loop | 5 miles | 40 mins | Traffic-free trail

Words by Aaron Scott

on 29/08/2013 19:04:00

This Forestry Commission trail centre is perfect for families, with an easy 5-mile woodland trail loop.

A short, scenic woodland trail suitable for all the family, with a great cafe to finish up in! Fineshade Wood is located between Stamford and Corby, just off the A43. And if you've got young children, join our free Mums and Tots bike ride at Fineshade on Friday mornings (Dads and carers welcome too!).

On a sunny autumn day with a cold northerly breeze, the best place to be is in the woods; the sunlight warms you through the bare branches, and the wind simply attacks the treetops thrashing high above, creating a sheltered world through which to walk or cycle.

Route summary

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Typical Time: 40 minutes
  • OS map: Explorer 234
  • Start & Finish: Top Lodge Car Park, which is a pay car park.
  • Terrain: Metalled track throughout, so good in all weather conditions

About Fineshade Wood

Locally, we are spoilt for woodland, with the remains of the ancient Rockingham Forest spread across eastern Northamptonshire. Fineshade has recently seen significant investment, with new walks and a cycle trail, the refurbished Top Lodge visitor centre and caf�, an excellent kids' playground and a broad programme of activities. Fineshade Wood spreads over an airy hilltop between King's Cliffe and Wakerley, just off the A43.

Conifers and broadleaf trees intermingle along its wide tracks, twisting paths and small clearings, creating a varied landscape to whizz through on wheels or take more slowly on foot. The woods were used for charcoal-making and there is evidence of Roman metal smelting. There are numerous well-designed information boards around the woods, and all the paths are well signposted.

Fineshade also provides the habitat for red kites; they can frequently be seen gliding above the trees, and the visitor centre organises special red kite talks and walks to watch them roosting. The Forestry Commission has taken care to use sustainable materials in their refurbishment of Fineshade, and there are some charming basketwork sculptures along the route.

Fineshade Loop Cycle Path

The 5-mile woodland loop is squarely aimed at the family market; the more adventurous off-roader will enjoy the 7 blue-graded skills sections (see below). The route is clearly marked in white, and follows winding trails through the woods and then opens up to a longer track through woodland. Bike hire available. Regular free rides for women and children, led by British Cycling.

The core path is 5 miles long and suitable for younger cyclists. There is one longish hill, though!

Contact 01572 737 624 or for more information.

Optional blue-graded skills sections

The blue-graded skills sections are perfect for more adventurous off-roaders.

Branching off the main 5-mile loop are 7 blue-graded skills sections, which are perfect for more adventurous off-roaders. These sections are aimed at older kids and adults who want to experience more technical off-road riding through the forest. The sections are accessible directly off the main loop, so if some members of your group are more adventurous than others, you can still all ride together!



Points of interest

Wooden Kids' Play Area

The excellent wooden kids' play area, where we finish our ride at Fineshade Wood.

Red Kite Hotspot

Red Kites can be seen frequently at Fineshade Wood

About this route guide

This route is adapted from 20 Best Local Bike Routes, a guide book featuring 20 favourite local routes for cycling in Rutland and the surrounding area. It is available to buy from Walkers bookshops in Oakham, Stamford and Sleaford.

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