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Wharfedale Track

01 December 2013


One of the best and longest stretches of single track in Canterbury - curving through the beech forests around Mount Oxford. Beware of wasps in the summer.

Getting there

Get yourself to Oxford (30 minutes north from Christchurch). Go west through the town, past the pub, cross a bridge on the main road and after approximately 2km turn right into Woodstock Road. Continue until you hit Ingrams/Perhams Road where an AA sign indicates the start of the Wharfedale Track.

Getting dirty

There are a couple of fords to negotiate en route to the car park. They can be deceptively deep - often the good decision is to park-up at the lime works and not risk drowning your car (you also score a bonus downhill on a smooth road at the end of the day). Spin up the road, opening and closing about 100 gates (always leave them as you find them). You'll eventually reach a car park at the road end. Leap over the stile and enter single track heaven. After 5-10 minutes you'll reach a gate with an intersection on the other side. Climb over the stile and take the track which veers left and heads downhill. Stay on this trail and continue past the Rydes Waterfall and Mt Oxford trail junctions on your right, as you wind your way up to the saddle. The track is littered with tree roots and brutal water bars - good fun in the dry but knarly slippery after rain or winter snow. Assess your sense of humour at the saddle. Either return the same way or continue down to the Wharfedale Shelter (basic but okay for the night with bunks and fires. Note: The Townshend Huts have been burnt-out/removed). Return for a double dose of single track or do the round trip by taking the hilly gravel road back to Oxford via the Lees Valley and Ashley Gorge.

Nitty Gritty

  • Saddle Return - 3 hours 
  • Huts Return - 5 hours 
  • Loop - 7 hours 
  • Puff factor: Medium 
  • Technical Difficulty: Challenging 
  • Follow the Mountain Bikers' Code. Respect Others; Respect the Track; and Respect the Rules.