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Quantock Hills

Ride Report: Sunday 29th June 2008, John Rowland

We met in a small car park at the eastern end of the major hill range. A remote spot with a splendid view back across the valley beyond Bishops Lydeard and in the distance the eastern edge of the Brendon Hills. Geoff & Penny and Kirby joined me with guest rider Uwe Bretschneider.

Preparing for the ride


A compass ... are we lost?

In spite of the pleasant warmth during the drive from Exeter, there was a cool breeze with slightly threatening clouds as we set off. It was some 8 years since I had last cycled here and the memory was of magnificent views and hard riding. We were not to be disappointed. Much of the track was well worn by cyclists with loose rock and stone, although to be fair there was sometimes a smooth grassy surface or a baked clay track.

Admiring the view over Holford

The main route extends some 8 miles along the ridge to Quantoxhead, but after a couple of miles we left the main track to venture down into a steep combe and traverse through woods for most of the morning.

This culminated in a two mile descent to Holford where after a frustrating search we found a pub that served coffee. This was after only 8 miles and two hours of riding and pushing our bikes up extremely steep inclines; plus of course enjoying the view from time to time! Kirby distinguished himself as our photographer taking every opportunity to rush ahead and take his pictures as we passed by.

Penny in action

The plan had been to contour around the western end to our lunch stop at West Quantoxhead. The route however was disguised by close contours that in the event meant several steep climbs then the reward of a steep descent as we passed along the mouths of re-entrants that led back into the main feature.

A confusion by the leader meant an unfortunate longish climb through a wood back up the main hill but we soon established the mistake and quickly rejoined the planned route. In spite of the fairly generous repast some of us enjoyed at the coffee break the stop for lunch was a welcome chance to recharge. Concurrently a loose back wheel was corrected thanks to Uwe’s multiheaded spanners.

All that remained now was a climb back up to the heights and a traverse along the main ridge back to our transport. We set off at 2.30pm and found, for a change, the climb to relatively gradual if prolonged. Once on the tops we enjoyed a following wind and even more extensive views as we headed home.

We reached the cars at 4.30pm after more than six hours and circa 22 miles on the 'tracks'. This put us in the mind for further adventures on Dartmoor and certainly wetted our appetites for the New Forest Off Road weekend 20 and 21 September.

Exmoor ponies


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CTC Exeter Sunday Rides Coffee Pots Bike Bus Devon News