The cross-country (XC) loop is separated into two distinct halves with a combined length of approximately five miles/six and a half KM.
The first half starts off with an almost completely singletrack loop which undulates over the upper half of Aston Hill, swooping down and climbing up, all on a gently testing, rooty and fun trail. This leads back toward the start point where you can round the top loop again, or carry on into the Red Run downhill.
The second half starts following the start of the Red, Black and Surface to Air runs. As it wiggles along the upper edge of the park both Surface to Air and the Black Run veer off, leaving you on the Red Run. It’s not as steep as the other tracks, but it does contain a few surprises to keep riders on their toes, with off-camber rooty sections, technical switchbacks and a boardwalk section at the end. This run is used by riders getting used to the steeper, tighter riding of Aston Hill and is a great trail to build skills in an environment where you can ride safely and as fast as your confidence allows.
Halfway down the Red Run you are offered two choices – to continue with the Red Run, through the bus stop and into the switchbacks before either dropping onto the fire road (beware brambles and wear compression socks to prevent scratches) or rolling along the boardwalk, or to take the stiff climb that leads into a slightly alpine-esque section, swooping back through some carving turns to join the boardwalk at the bottom of the hill.
After a brief fireroad interlude past the end of the other downhill runs and a short but vicious climb on chalk (always fun in the wet!), it’s back onto some non-technical singletrack alongside the golf course – keep your head down here and keep on moving! This leads into a steep switchback climb via a sharp right, past the infamous ghost hut and up in an alpine-esque manner, guaranteed to have you digging into the energy reserves. Once back at top, either using the short of longer route, it’s back onto more swooping, undulating singletrack to finish off.