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Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 6 Aug 2018, 2:45pm
1ST attempt after leaving Dartmoor made just 34 miles and 14 were in error!
Wasted an estimated 2-3 hrs getting lost, possibly more, and keeping on track, no less that 65 junctions between the moors (N&S) and roads go east to west mostly...................I only did about a third of them!
Now some £450 lighter :?
Two smart phones, a cycle sat nav, a compass.
I always normally use a paper map.
I hope for a better result.
Raining on Friday so go again on Thursday.
Starting at 00.00 wed / thurs.
Going in reverse so cycling Torbay to minehead overnight and do the way in daylight, leaving 27 miles home in dark at end.

Into the abyss :mrgreen:

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 8 Aug 2018, 11:26pm
The stars are aligned and I am off in a bit Ha Ha.

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 9 Aug 2018, 8:12am
by rjb
Best of luck NA i await your write up of the ride with interest. :D

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 10 Aug 2018, 5:17pm
Short answer before I bore the world with excuses.
Exemoor completed..............excruciatingly horrendous.

That's no cycling way of any description!

Boring details later.......................

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 10 Aug 2018, 5:55pm
by Cunobelin
I combined the Cornish Way and West Counry Way some years ago and completed them on the Street Machine recumbent

I think I can see the issue if you are on Dartmoor as the original route does not actually go that far south!


There was a second route has developed which used to be called Devon C2C or Two Moors Way,


This is confusing things a some sources refer to this as the "West Country Way" when it simply isn't..... Hands up Cycling UK

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 10 Aug 2018, 9:57pm
Some of the BUM points about the ride I did are echoed below from a ride in same area overlapping, Seems that this is common nowadays?
My experience is worse still :twisted: I won't hold back.................
"sam hopwood • 3 months ago
I completed this route last weekend and there are a few bits to be aware of. We used an Etrex GPS for navigating and took an OS map too. Im glad we did! Some of the route was shown to be on foot paths and indeed on one section was steeply uphill and over a stile! very much less than ideal on loaded bikes! This was on the section into Porlock. I didn't really understand why this was in the ride (one of a few footpaths the route tried to take us down) as these paths are not supposed to be ridden on bikes and don't do anything to help our struggles with land access in the UK. Especially when the descent into Porlock has some of the best legal single track in britain just the other side of the hill to the way the OP sends you. I was pretty bummed when I realised we were missing that descent in exchange for some unridable hike (and cary) a bike.

The route for the most part was rad and had some really great climbs and descents and some amazing scenery. just be ready to plan some of your own sections to avoid illegality and make the ride a little more fun. I recommend checking your next days route against the OS map and changing sections as you see fit to make it more fun.

All that said the river crossings were awesome on a hot sunny day, some ace food to be enjoyed at various pubs and cafes, A fun, challenging route.

My ride partner and I are well experienced MTB riders and took bivvy kit, small stoves for being tea, a couple sets of clothes and one of us rode a drop bar adventure bike, the other a touring style MTB (Genesis croix de fer and Genesis Longitude respectively) so I reckon your good to do it on just about any bike if your keen for some hike and some serious rattle.

Please avoid the footpath sections though for the good of all off road cyclists in the UK and our future access rights.


"Lars Henning > sam hopwood • 14 days ago

Hey Sam, thanks for your feedback. I think you have a good point about the footpath sections. I will look into updating the route at some point soon. I had mentioned about the SW footpath in the notes, but perhaps it better just to remove that and change the section into Porlock to follow the the singletrack on the other side of Porlock Hill. Glad you had nice hot weather for the river crossings!"

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 8:52pm
Ok so in short I left home cycles 72 miles in the dark, must have seen just half a dozen cars in that at miles :?
Apart from stopping to put on coat I don't think I stopped at all, three hours in I thought that I was going to doze off but somehow got over it when I got to minehead.
Sat in a beach shelter for a while whilst I sorted my sat nav and loaded up with food.
Set off over exemoor a mile or so of flat hard wide path then this to go up North Hill, steps :? -
Minehead Offroad Start

Its a "Path" (no footpath / public path sign) just "Path" I am assuming not bridlepath even if they do follow a tracks at times.
See OS map.
The zig zag up here is steep that you have to stop several times to get your breath back, from bottom to top of climb only a few hundred yards of the 1.1 M 640' climb is cycle-able, simply too steep.

You exit onto the hill top and are met with a flat track :) 1.1 Mile 690'
North Hill

But this does not last long, your are back on a steep grassy climb again to get up to Selworthy beacon via some double back bumpy tracks-
Nice views here so take time to savour as this is as good as it gets! 3.5 Mile 970', This is the SW Coast Path? -
Selworthy Beacon

North South East West-
Selworthy Beacon
Selworthy Beacon

You drop off The Beacon on a bumpy track and after a short stretch on road drop off down a bumpy rocky track.
From this point on there is much steep hills of part grass but rocky tracks.
Some of the tracks are farm tracks down lanes strewn with rocks and steep....I recognise these from my green lanning days........ok on a M/cycle........a bike, even a MTB ............. :?
Continued in next post-

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 9:22pm
by rjb
Its steep enough on the road from Minehead to selworthy beacon. Off road as you found means a lot of walking. Does your route not stick to bridlepaths? There are several options from Selworthy beacon back south. The easiest would be the bridleway down to Selworthy village then pick up the bridleway to Allerford. After that i would have stuck to the roads. :D

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 9:32pm
Quaint packhorse bridge is no consolation, roads are welcome but short-
Packhorse Bridge

Frome here to Dunkery beacon is a portion of 3.5 Miles and 1400' of climbing, along rocky paths which are 1:4 at times, no ones riding up these.-
Steep And Typically Rocky

You pass under Dunkery Beacon not past it if you fancy a detour for a view, weather permitting.
On your way down a horrible track , even hard men will be walking.
At exford the sat nav is confusing, this is also born out by a downed wire fence a little further on where its obvious that some cyclist have gone over two fences and a wall......................a short way to the right is a sign which points down the hill and gets you back on track.......if only they would look.
Its a bit like following sat nav up someones drive and straight through the garden mowing down the fences only to arrive on the road you should of followed in 30 yards or so :evil:
Getting here will be hard and a welcomed rest as I did.-
Tar Steps
More Quaint But Hardcore
Getting Fed Up By Now

Continued next post-

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 9:48pm
Whats not apparent from the photos is how steep it is, it is.

Also some paths are used just to give more off road even though they can be very short and a road is adjacent.
I say paths because only paths have kissing gates.
Bike will not go through at all :(

So I was resigned to lifting off the kissing gates from hinges......(six) was connected with a spring which made it difficult...........if you are less than 11 stone you might find it impossible....................

Basically you are taken down into valleys that are very steep and dangerous, in the wet would be lethal.
No way even the fittest can cycle up the off road hills even with tyres and bike to match downhill racers.
The tracks are very rocky and many farm tracks with boulders.
Paths......................not bridlepaths...........?
Kissing gates.
Irresponsible to take cyclist down paths, as my earlier post pointed out.

Did not see a single cyclist apart from a lumbering team of MTB'ers taking a flat easy route across Dunkery, not going my way :?


Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 9:56pm
by philg
on a road bike
with panniers
is difficult
who'd have thought

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 10:21pm
philg wrote:Exmoor
on a road bike
with panniers
is difficult
who'd have thought

I averaged about 5 mph moving speed over 35 odd miles over Exmoor.

On a mtb over Dartmoor on army track with similar boulders (no tarmac) etc hills and all, I averaged ..................12 hrs total time for 30 miles with camping gear.
I do know how hard is hard.
It seems that 5 mph over exemoor is the rate according to others that have done that terrain?

Have you done "The Westcountry Way" over exemoor?
How did you ride the off road hills..............................

On the sites and reviews there is little talk of walking................the author says 100% riding..................

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 13 Aug 2018, 11:48am
I admit that the pictures on above site do show the rocky tracks, and I was not surprised at all to find such.
And here- ... ountry-way
Are the only places I can see the ride is advertised?
The later paints a picture of quaint lanes heather wild flowers sheep and private streams to bath in.
No mention of walking and 1400 feet of climbing off road in 3.5 miles ! Just had another look that's 1500' in (Under dunkery beacon) 5 miles, I might have been looking at another section in earlier post.
That's journalism for you :roll:

I would like to here from others who have ridden the route or just part of it............
A site here- ... the-route/
"It’s was day of highs and lows, quite literally. 6000ft of climbing sounds like a lot, but I hadn’t fully understood how much it was. We did a lot of climbing and mainly off-road up crazy steep climbs for the first 20 miles. This meant we took a long time to complete the first third of the distance. It took us 7 hours for this, meaning at that pace it’d take us 21 hours to complete the day. This meant that morale was low, although helped slightly as we cycled through some beautiful places."
Day two Dartmoor by the pictures I think which is not hard as exemoor, sounds about right. ... asy-climb/
"The roads leading down to the Tarr Steps were steep and never ending, so much so that my back brake ended up smoking, the disc had the purply blue haze you get on metal when it’s been over heated. It never worked the same again."
Just try rim brakes.............. :mrgreen: ... ck-waller/
"To say it was a good view is somewhat of an understatement. You can see for so many miles in every direction, and not another sole, road or car in sight. I could probably write an entire post about this alone, but I’d best move on, there’s a lot of riding ahead of us.
Down hill a long way brilliant riding. Pay good money
We started our decent from here, and dropped nearly nearly all the way back to sea level descending 1500ft. As a mountain biker you’d pay good money for a ride like this, it was amazing. And having set of before 8, we didn’t se a single other person until we got to the next village.
As you’ll probably be guessing from previous posts, the old saying of “what goes up, must come down” is completely the opposite for us, as every time you enjoy a downhill, you are very quickly reminded that you’ve got to go back up again.
As we continued to climb and descend we were treated to some more magnificent views. the trade off was the scary drop, just off to the right, and a 10″ wide path to negotiate. To say it was scary is a very mild and polite way of putting it.
We then had our biggest single climb of the ride, over 1000ft without a pause, just constant up. Thankfully the gradient wasn’t the extremes we’d been having and we could push on up. As I was starting to flag a bit – and thinking we were nearing the top – I heard a shout from Gary somewhere behind me “I’ll buy you an ice cream if you get to the top without stopping”. Easy I thought, I could see the crest of the hill. How wrong could I be. Every corner was another hill, on and on it went. I was determined to win my ice cream, and boy what an ice cream it was.
We continued on through more and more ‘jungles’. These were really narrow tracks, with brambles and nettles everywhere. We were beginning to get sick of these bits, trying not to get ripped to pieces, whilst also watching for rocks, bumps and drops in the tack is a very painful and tiring process.
Our next destination was the town of Bricknoller. Which in our slightly tired and sugar fuelled minds became Rick Waller, so for the next few hours the ride became about “The search for Rick Waller”, as we continued to climb and drop, climb and drop.
We never found him. But we did find a great local pub, with lovely food. It was a well deserved break on what was easily the second hardest day fo the ride. We still had to climb another 800 ft in 3 miles, so we had to leave the pub and head off.
I’m not sure what was hardest, riding/walking this far up, or riding through the narrow paths with Gorse bush either side. This stuff is dangerous, and you wouldn’t want to brush past it at speed."

That's more like it :) But in all honesty this is Quantocks, and I did not do that, but a good account of the terrain.

No mention of kissing gates etc......................

Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 13 Aug 2018, 3:32pm
by philg
Have you done "The Westcountry Way" over exemoor?
How did you ride the off road hills..............................

On the sites and reviews there is little talk of walking................the author says 100% riding..................

I prefer road to offroad but I have ridden or hiked across most of the Exmoor bits of this route.
I have to say when I saw what you were planning my thoughts were, to quote Sir Humphrey, 'that's very brave'.

I ride the off-road hills very slowly :oops: - on my MTB, & no luggage!
Not being blessed with bike handling skills of Peter Sagan, I wouldn't take a road bike anywhere near those bridlepaths, not necessarily for the uphills as I doubt I could push an MTB any faster than any other type, but for the boulder-strewn watery descents, wide tyres, suspension forks and disc brakes would at least give me a sporting chance of survival.

I think a younger, fitter rider on an appropriate bike would get round it OK without walking, save for the footpath up to North Hill - of course the original route was in the opposite direction to yours, though I doubt that would make much difference. I would have taken the road section up this bit, that is challenging enough!


Re: Take 2 The Westcountry Way...........

Posted: 13 Aug 2018, 7:50pm
On my first attempt Dartmoor I know well, was what I expected and easily doable for someone whos has been cycling for 50 years, cycled 95+% of dartmoors paths and tracks, completed in off/on road motorcycle trails for twenty years.
I have greenlanned and been over Dartmoor off road before on my tourer, the bike I used.
So it relatively easy for me :)
Got lost and gave up going through the lanes between the moors, not doable without sat nav for sure.
Gave up and headed for crediton and a lift home, 113 miles.

Take two- got to Dartmoor beetor cross, a stones throw from Dartmoor, made the decision that going home was best option, honestly I did not fancy Dartmoor in the dark and was feeling cold with just short sleeves and a windproof top, just had enough food to get through and a 27 mile easy ride down the road after some 33 miles over Dartmoor.
Made it to newton abbot 7 miles from home and her in doors phoned to see where I was, weakened and took a lift :(

164 miles unsupported and 17.5 hrs moving time, avg 9.1 mph including exemoor, 22 hours away from home total.
Did not feel lack of energy as I ate every hour and constantly topped up.
Took a power nap in the day in a bus shelter which probably helped me from falling asleep.
Not hungry at home but forced some soup down me, slept well till next day.
I got my head down for 3.5 hours before I set off, that's normal daily sleep for me.
Will I do it again...................if it wasn't for the cycling on footpaths and lifting gates, I can only suppose that's what every other person who has claimed to have done the route over exemoor had done, of lifted bike over gates to footpaths.

Did not see a soul on a bike the whole route over Exmoor (except a chain gang going for an easy route on full sus bikes, probably a pay to ride the wild club), one section of killer downhill with rock slabs I saw several 4x4's quads, trail bikes, no helmets overtaking me, I rode down most of it to end with an audience of three lads leaning on the bonnets of 4x4's but not saying a word as I man handled my steed to the bottom without mishap :) Probably thought I was lost :mrgreen:

Never say never :wink:

Just doing the 116 miles from Plymouth The Hoe to Minehead in a day would probably be too easy even on my tourer.
Late in the year so daylight last week was 05.20 - 21.30 approx.

It would have to be next week or nothing.
Felt in general better that the first take even though another 50 miles further, I am probably fitter or more acclimatised to a long day now.

I advise-
Keep bike as light as possible.
Mine was 45Ibs plus :)
Suspension will make the ride more comfortable, but you will still have to walk up hill.
When you are down too 3 mph going up hill, walking will save energy and be just as fast.
Do carry at least two bottles preferably 2 litres.
(I was carrying three bottles plus 1 litre in the pannier, total 4.5 litres or one gallon) But only because I do not stop at cafes etc, and had a long ride to start.
Fill bottles from streams with purification tabs, at every chance, even in cold weather you will lose fluid.
Take rations always and eat every hour.
Sat nav is mandatory.
Rest up every two hours without fail, its too easy to carry on because you can, becoming dehydrated and running fuel store down.
If wet weather is forcast it will reduce speed and falls will be common, I was lucky it was bone dry.
You need soles with grip on rocks and grass.
The fords on Dartmoor will be flooded in wet weather so plan detours.
As long as you are out of sight of a road or dwelling place, its quite legal to camp on Dartmoor, but no open fires!
Exemoor is an assault course, Dartmoor is just mixed terrain and easily doable on a hybrid with 35 mm tyres and some will.

Good luck!