FAQs Go on, have a look - you may be surprised!

Why is Aston Hill Bike Park pay to ride?

Aston Hill is volunteer-run and receives no outside funding, but running a bike park doesn’t come cheap. Use of the land, maintaining the trails, administration and insurance all eat up your membership subs. Because Aston Hill isn’t currently funded by any other means, paying to ride is the best way to guarantee both the quality and the future of Aston Hill Bike Park.

How much does it cost?

It costs £7 onsite per person to ride from either the ticket machine in the Aston Hill car park or a Forestry Commission ranger. Note that the machine does not currently take cards or give change. Check the Membership/fees page for more info.

Remember that this is the only way Aston Hill is funded. By paying you’re insured to shred like a demon on Forestry Commission land, and helping to guarantee the continued existence of the Hill. It’s a win win!

How difficult is Aston Hill?

Aston Hill is a purpose-built technical mountain biking destination with a variety of trails, including four dedicated downhill runs; if you enjoy a technical element in your mountain biking then there will be a trail that will challenge, whatever your ability.

The Cross Country is rated Red/Moderate and the downhills are rated from Moderate to Advanced bike park trails, using the Forestry Commission grading system. The Pump Track is rated as Basic.

It is built on a mixture of classic southern chalk and clay, which adds an extra element of spice to the riding in the wet and during the deep winter months. All trails are designed with water run-offs and sustainability in mind, so Aston Hill is a year round venue. However, due to the added technical element these conditions add we would only recommend Aston Hill downhills to more experienced riders when wet.

I'm new to mountain biking - is Aston Hill for me?

Yes. Yes it is!

Despite its reputation, Aston Hill has a great and varied range of trails; if you’re looking to take mountain biking seriously then there is something for you. From the top loop of the Cross Country course to the upper section of Ricochet for aspiring downhillers, there are runs that you can enjoy and progress on whatever your level.

Do I have to dress like a stormtrooper?

The downhills at Aston Hill are generally a lot steeper and more challenging than other riding around the Chilterns. Wearing an open-face helmet for riding the cross-country route is fine, but if you’re purely riding the downhill runs then a full-face helmet is recommended.

If you own armour we also advise that you use it – Aston Hill is on the Chiltern escarpment which contains a lot of sharp flint! We’ve seen several injuries that could have been prevented by simple knee and elbow pads. Even if you plan on riding uphill as well, there’s loads of good, flexible armour out there that will help prevent injury in the event of a spill.

Is my bike good enough?

Aston Hill is a technically challenging venue and will test your bike. Your bike needs to be in a good state of repair with functioning brakes and well-treaded tyres, as well as being capable of riding in a testing off road environment. A good guide to buying a suitable bike can be found here.

Can I hire bikes at Aston Hill?

Give Lovelo Cycleworks a shout. They may be able to help you out.

I'm tired of pushing up. You've taken all my money. When are you getting an uplift?

We would love to install an uplift. The big problem is there is very limited access across the golf course that makes accessing the bottom of the runs very difficult (unless in an emergency), and the cost of building an access road on Aston Hill from top to bottom was around £75,000 back in 2008 (which is before actually getting the required permissions to put one in).

We’ve also looked at cable lifts – several years ago the cost of installing one was £1.5m – £2m.

We would like nothing more than to be whisked back to the top for another run. However, we are in the Chilterns and the push isn’t actually that harsh. With the downhill run record standing at 28 in day and most average riders being able to put in 5 or 6 runs in a morning/afternoon (8-10 runs per day) Aston Hill is never going to compete with the Alps and its ski lifts. However, considering we’re in the flat south east of England, it’s still a good day downhilling.

Where are the bloody bins?

Aston Hill follows the Forestry Commission’s philosophy of encouraging visitors to take away everything they bring with them, which includes food and drink packaging.

Bins are an eyesore and need to be regularly emptied. Aston Hill is run by a volunteer committee which does not have the time or resources to organise regular rubbish collections and disposal.

Bins also attract pests, such as wasps, rats and arsonists. Needless to say none of these are welcome.

Finally, the more time spent collecting and diposing of other people’s rubbish is less time spent planning, building and maintaining excellent trails that you could be riding. Taking your rubbish home is a small thing you can do that makes a massive difference.

I'd like to get involved. What can I do?

Great!

The club is made up of volunteers that want to take Aston Hill forward. Sign up to the digging list to get all the dig emails and you’ll be the first to know when the next trail building and maintenance session is.

It’s hard, physical work maintaining the Hill, but it’s a great craic and there’s no better way to learn about how to build a really good trail.

Exactly who is Beardy Ben?

Ben is a mythical creature that apparently lives under the start ramp on Aston Hill. He may also be the father of creation, but this has never been proven.

Rumour has it he is occasionally spotted on uplifts at Cwmcarn and Forest of Dean, and has been seen on alpine chairlifts which means he may not fear crossing water, as previously thought. Local legend also claims he once visited Thetford Forest which caused locals to light pyres, sharpen pitchforks and lock-up their daughters. Even now, on dark misty nights, the conversation in The Harrower’s Arms often turns to the glimpsed Dark Devilish Bearded Beast, the foul chants issued forth about Norfolk’s lack of hills, and what the residents of the Norfolk/Suffolk border had done to deserve such a dark and malevolent visitation.

Some say he is also in league with Kate Bush as wherever Ben has been she can be heard for a short time afterwards, her lilting voice floating on the breeze.