The Welsh borders have been invaded by a rush of young people in Lycra

You go mountain-biking with Jerry Gissop at your peril. He may be 48, and have a studious look about him; but not only does he ride regularly around Welsh border country, he also, when the spirit takes him, goes on ferocious bashes overseas. Thus he once rode - or, to be accurate, carried - his bike over the flanks of Mount El'brus, in the Caucasus, reaching 13,000ft. He has also powered home through the Pyrenees, along the northern coast of California and up through the Outer Hebrides.

He is now district forester in the Forest Enterprise's Marches District, centred on Ludlow. As such, he has responsibility both to entertain the public and to swell the Enterprise's coffers by earning as much from tourists as he can - and he has harnessed his passion for mountain biking to this end.

In general, the Enterprise welcomes riders in its forests. Only near towns, where walkers are numerous, does conflict arise. There, in Mr Gissop's experience, the problem is largely one of different generations: "The walkers who have traditionally used the forest tend to be over 40, and suddenly they find the place invaded by a rush of young people dressed in fluorescent Lycra."

Recognising that young bloods need places in which they can let off steam, Mr Gissop laid out a special trail in Hopton Wood, near Craven Arms. In this 1,000-acre forest, with nearly 20 miles of roads and tracks, bikers can take their pick of easy gradients on good surfaces, or, if they must, one-in-three logging chutes, on which they are liable to fly over the handlebars and break their collar-bones.

Another of Mr Gissop's schemes, in partnership with the country authorities of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, has been to devise routes that link scattered woods by means of quiet lanes. A third project, now taking shape, is to produce five loops of lanes and woodland tracks with accommodation available in pubs along the way.

To sample one of these, I rode forth with him on a typically foul Border morning, as heavy drizzle swept the hills. From the Riverside Inn in the hamlet of Aymestrey, we pedalled away along a main road, then turned off into More Hill Wood.

After a long grind upwards, which raised a good sweat, we cruised easily between trees in silence broken only by the occasional whistle of a buzzard. Sometimes we were on well-made forestry roads, sometimes on grass tracks, but all the time it felt that we had left the rest of the world behind.

Mr Gissop reckons that biking gives him time to think. Here it gave us time to chat, not least about the Enterprise's ever-more-stringent need to raise income. Such is the popularity of the forests among bikers that a single race at a place like Eastbridge, near Shrewsbury, can attract 1,200 entrants, each paying pounds 1 a head. Yet many of the smaller outlying blocks are so remote that they are scarcely visited.

The idea that bikes cause erosion in such areas (my guide observed) iswrong. On the contrary, they are often quite useful, in that they smooth out mud churned up by horses.

After an hour's agreeable exercise, we sped down towards the rushing waters of the River Lugg, and suddenly arrived back at the inn, where we put away a quite excellent lunch, cooked by a chef trained at Le Gavroche. Well fortified, we lashed our bikes on to the back of the car, drove a dozen miles north to Hopton, and launched off along the trail.

We climbed easily to the Titterhill - a heathery summit mound commanding a phenomenal 360-degree view. A clear map, and numbered marker-posts, each stamped with a triangle whose apex points north, made it simple to follow the prescribed route - but in fact we could have gone in any direction, across the contours or along them. In an hour's ride, we saw no one else.

Back at the car-park, glowing, I had no trouble in seconding Mr Gissop's contention that "the Welsh border country's made for cycling".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Fay Weldon suggested authors should tailor their work for Kindle readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers