TWISTING and turning like a slalom skier I weave my way through the trees, writes Ian Boydon.

A short straight section allows a couple of pedal strokes to add a bit more speed before I sweep into the next section of single track.

From Leisure - Feeling Good

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“This is going well,” I think to myself.

A left turn is closely followed by a right then immediately another left and then straight before me are two menacing looking jumps – purposefully designed to launch rider and bike into direct conflict with gravity. These are immediately followed by a steeply banked sharp right-hand berm (steep banked corner).

I hesitate, tap my brakes to knock off a bit of speed, and go over the lip of the first jump.

I only achieve minimal loss of contact with the ground but my landing, on the second jump, pushes my weight too far forward.

Before I can adjust I am over the lip of the second jump with the weight of my upper body right over the top of the handlebars. This is going to hurt.

My front wheel hits the bottom of the embanked corner first; this has the effect of transforming my bike into a raging buckaroo, tipping me forward and ploughing me into the dirt and rock.

Nothing is broken, but my knee is a bloody mess.

I am in the middle of riding the newest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the UK, the Altura Trail, in Whinlatter Forest, near" target="_blank">Keswick. And I am loving it.

The trail is the second purpose-built trail in the Lake District – the first being the North Face Trail at Grizedale Forest, near" target="_blank">Hawkshead.

While the North Face Trail was designed to introduce relative newcomers and families to the joys of mountain biking – which is the fastest growing sport in the region – the Altura Trail is aimed at providing a testing challenge for more experienced riders.

The trail, which is part of a five-year £500,000 project by the Forestry Commission and partly funded by the North West Development Agency, is unique in so far as it is located in England’s only mountain forest.

Adrian Jones, the North West area manager for the Forestry Commission told me: “Whinlatter Forest Park is England’s only true mountain forest, rising to 790 metres above sea level, so the Altura Trail will really put the mountain back into mountain biking.

“The demand we have for mountain biking in this area is huge and hopefully we have created something for people to use and they will get the most out of.

“It is a technical trail and you need good ability to ride it,” said Mr Jones.

My knee would vouch for that.

I have turned up at the official opening day of the trail. I watch the ribbon being cut for the cameras - and I’m itching to give it a go myself.

Cyclewise, the company that is running the bike hire and shop, and who also provide skills tuition to new riders, allow Dan Genesi, one of their guides, to show me and Gazette photographer Victoria Middleton, around the course.

The trail starts off with a narrow, one-bike-width track (known to riders as singletrack), which meanders through the trees near the forest centre.

A couple of hundred metres later the path spills us out onto a fire-road that climbs steeply for around three kilometres up the flank of Seat How. This path soon provides the first views of the ride.

And they’re breathtaking.

A wide panorama includes vistas of Skiddaw, Little Man," target="_blank">Keswick, Braithwaite, Derwent Water and Cat Bells. More singletrack, still climbing, through trees soon opens out to offer more sublime scenery, this time including views of Grisedale Pike.

Soon enough though the real fun begins as the trail starts to plunge downwards leading to a fast flowing section with sharp switchback corners where we are almost hugging the trees.

The second, and longest, section of the singletrack downhill segments is the best. The trail begs me to attack it, and I feel I must obey. Each smoothly twisting corner produces a grin that is growing wider by the second - that is until I come a cropper about halfway down.

However, everything seems to be working and we are soon off again and adrenalin soon makes the stinging of my leg fade into the background.

There are numerous drops and jumps and high banked berms which mean riders must be on their guard at all times.

A last section of downhill along an exposed flank is full of yet more berms, humps and jumps. And it is all good fun. However the ride is over before we know it.

At the moment the trail is only six miles long, which is far too short for experienced mountain bikers.

However, work is currently under way on a second loop, which should almost double the length of the trail network, and is promised to be even harder than the Altura Trail.

When completed, in October or November, the trail will prove a huge attraction for mountain bikers across the UK, providing a boost to tourism and a new place for adventurous Cumbrians to get their adrenalin fix.