Friday, 14 September 2012

Biking in Somerset

A slight delay in postings due to being away on holiday. It had been a choice between Scotland or the South West, the SW won so after booking some accommodation we headed down to sample the delights of mountain biking on the Quantocks, Exmoor and Dartmoor.

The Quantocks are only a short distance away from the M5 so made for a good afternoon destination before finding our B&B. We only did a short loop but managed to go right instead of left when climbing up a wooded valley so wondered why 40 degree slopes with exposed tree routes had appeared on what was meant to be an easyish climb. The rest of the route was very good though.

Cath making a splash

The following day our route began with a ridiculously steep climb, we were on route this time, and we began to wonder if we were going to get totally beasted with the supposed gradings. The rest of the route was straightforward with some nice sea views. We decided to do another route straight after so headed east towards Minehead and another steep push. Once on the ridge it was all very easy and we decided to drop down via a different path and head back to our accommodation via back lanes rather than following the guidebook route.

Heading inland we settled on a loop from Withypool but couldn't find any parking so headed over to Winsford instead. One of the longer rides in the guidebook, it was actually quite easy despite being graded the same as our coastal route the day before. Even the black section was straightforward. The next day we did the Withypool loop, though started from our hotel further downstream and had a hard time following the "bridleway"! The actual route was very good with open views and good riding and surprisingly easy to follow given our record on the earlier routes.

Heading down a quiet lane.

Finally down to Dartmoor and a couple of routes: one on the moors south of Okehampton using military roads felt properly wild - the routes on Exmoor felt more like riding through farmland with small bits of open land. The second route was characterised by lots of river crossings using stepping stones - these were tricky if you had short legs or cleated shoes! There was also a large cat aiming to steal my cream tea!

On Dartmoor above Okehampton

Cath on yet another river crossing.

Somewhat amazingly we didn't have any rain all week, unlike Scotland, so it looks like we made the right choice again. I'd put up some links to the slideshows on my website but I've currently got an access problem so can't upload/update files so things will have to wait.

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