Grading your experience (Difficulty)

Our 3 part system explained

technical difficulty (TD)

We use the forestry commission / UCI / IMB definitions of trail difficulty:


  • Relatively flat and wide. Green might include short sections of flowing singletrack. NCR, estate or forestry trails.
  • Width commonly 2-3 metres.
  • Possibly loose surface, or muddy or uneven at times. Metalled road, smooth with minimum amount of loose surfaces.
  • Climbs and descents are mostly shallow.
  • No challenging features


  • As for ‘Green’ plus specially constructed singletrack trails. Bridleways and unsurfaced roads, quiet lanes. Approx 2m width.
  • Trail surface might include small obstacles of root and rock, mostly stoned surfaces.
  • Most gradients are moderate, but might include short steep sections.
  • Includes small technical trail features (such as roots and rock), loose surfaces, potholes.

Red: (The benchmark for mountain trails)

  • Steeper and tougher, mostly singletrack with technical sections. Any useable trail with pushing or carrying unlikely to exceed 2% of the trail length. Widths from 0.4m
  • Expect very variable surface types.
  • A wide range of climbs and descents of a challenging nature will be present.
  • Expect boardwalks and North Shore, unavoidable berms, large rocks, medium steps, drop-offs, cambers and water crossings.

 Black: (our definition)

  • Steep and physically demanding technical sections, sustained in nature with combined features
  • Sections of pushing and possible carrying
  • Variety of surface types including roots and rocks some over fist-sized
  • Range of climbs and descents, some very technical and challenging, some sustained and taxing
  • Hidden features, perhaps few unavoidable obstacles requiring inspection, large steps and drop-offs, some must-make lines

routes will be defined by their overall grade, with annotation if a small section is above that grade

i.e  TD: Blue (with 10m Black)  or 50%Green 50%Red

physical difficulty (PD)

Route length and height gained will be given in most cases as a guide. In addition physicality will be indicated by:

1 - Straightforward with opportunities to rest

2 - Fairly sustained throughout, with some short steep climbs

3 - Longer steep climbs where pushing may be resorted to. Several larger climbs (over 150m in height)

4 - Carrying will be necessary, climbs are found throughout the route, some quite long (200m+), significant sections of boggy or rooty trail making straightforward terrain physically taxing.

5 - Don't ask

exposure (EX)

This is the indication of both how exposed you might feel on a section of trail, and of how exposed you may well be, where falling off would be very bad perhaps. You can have multiple codes from below.

E - You will spend some time a long way away from civilisation (several hours) and you may well begin to feel it

G - There will be sections of trail that you will need to be honest with yourself and your guide about how you feel. They will need flow, confidence and smoothness to ride, and without that, could be hazardous