Cycling the Hicksters Loop from Steam Mills, Cinderford
We've done the Family Cycle Trail several times. And therefore we've started to pay more attention to the little extra loops shown on the maps as you cycle round. It's also a little more convenient for us to start at Cinderford, and keeps us off the beaten track and away from too many other people.
Our start point for today's ride was Steam Mills Forestry Commission Car Park - a slightly odd place as it has an official Forestry England sign, yet is up a very bumpy unsurfaced track at the back of an industrial estate. You can find the car park behind the Winner Skoda/MG Garage which is on the B4227 on the northern edge of Cinderford. The precise grid reference is 644 153, which you access from the track to the north of the Winner Garage, running east/west.
We followed some of the orange-dot cycle trails as shown on Ordnance Survey maps (using the free Maverick app on our phones), heading to where the cycle trail aligns with the dismantled railway. It's at this point that the Hicksters Loop starts. It's designed as a shortcut to take you back to Beechenhurst or Cannop Cycle Centre, so served our purposes well as we wanted to get to the café and play area at Beechenhurst. We found it well-signed, and enjoyed the 7km ride through the autumnal forest.
For our return, we simply followed the family trail all the way from Beechenhurst, until we reached the point where we'd joined the family trial earlier. We then invented a slightly different route to the car, along some wide level grassy tracks, albeit with some bumpy sections where the wild boar have been snuffling. 13km, and over 2 hours later, we were back at the car ready for a 20 minute return to Tibberton Cottage.