Challenging herself for the last time, Juliet Elliott from Bikes & Stuff takes an action packed ride through Devon from Exeter to Dartmoor.
I adore living in Devon and have spent two happy years discovering all the cycling routes and trails on my doorstep. However, I’m off to pastures new, so to soothe the pain of parting I planned a last minute holiday to get my final fix of the wonderful cycling, beaches, cream teas and ales that Devon has on offer.
Nestled between Dartmoor National Park and the stunning South West coast, the region’s capital Exeter is the ideal location for exploring some of the finest road cycling and mountain biking in the UK. So it is here that I decided to start my trail. The area is home to some excellent family friendly trails, including the gorgeous Exe Estuary Trail that follows the river through nature reserves and marsh habitats before delivering you to Exmouth’s golden beaches. But for my last Devon challenge I headed straight for the hills, pedaling out of the city on my road bike before getting stuck into the climb up to Dunchideock.
After shooting down to Dunsford, I gave my legs a little more hell by going straight up another hill and onto the epic wilds of Dartmoor. From Moretonhampstead I pedaled straight across the moors, enjoying windswept solitude in the rugged high moorland. After stopping to refuel with a large slice of cake, I decided to give the legendary ascent from Widecombe one last blast; good grief it’s a killer climb that never seems to get any easier!
Then skirting the base of Haytor, one of the highlights of the Tour Of Britain road race, I stopped to admire wild Dartmoor ponies and their foals; Pony stroking over, I headed back to Exeter for a good night’s sleep in one of Premier Inn’s comfortable beds.
Fuelled by an all you can eat big breakfast, I swapped my road bike for a mountain bike and headed to Haldon Forest for a spin around its super fun trails. I had a go beating my time around the fast, flowing Red Trail then nipped off down one of my favourite ‘off-piste’ tracks, all of which are lovingly hand-shaped by local riders.
Sticking with my mountain bike, my next stop was a quick visit to Gawton Gravity Hub and Tavi Woodlands, both of which are exceptional venues for full on downhill action; steep, technical, rocky, rooty and challenging. I rode as many laps as my legs allowed, until my body cried out for mercy. After that, it was back to the hotel for a heavenly soak in the tub, a hot chocolate and off to the land of z’s in the comfiest bed ever.
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