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Cycle Touring Exmoor
A Test for the Challenges to Come

Tour Summary


This short weekend tour took us from Taunton to Bristol via the short but tortuous hills of Exmoor in Mid-March 2005. We took in the delights of the heather covered moors, the fossils of Quantox Head and Cheddar Gorge.




Commentary & Photos

We had an early start from Swineford to join the Bristol/Bath cycle track which brought us to Temple Meads railway station for the Train to Taunton.

This short weekend route was designed to test all our equipment before starting our world trip 6 weeks later. In restrospect it was a little too severe for a warm up cycle tour - but it was great fun all the same.

The route from Taunton followed quiet country lanes which gradually became more and more hilly as we approached the edge of Exmoor. At Wimbleball Lake we stopped for a well deserved bite to eat before continuing on towards Winsford.

After Wimbleball Lake the route really climbed up severely and launched down narrow, twisting precipitous descents. The high earth banks and hedges blocked the view in many places which was a shame. Large areas of Exmoor are better cycled by MTB on the copious bridleways. The bridleways offer uninterrupted views across the sparse and beautiful landscape.


Wimbleball Lake - the afternoon would be much harder

A 20% 150 metre climb at the end of the day was unpopular!



We were heading for Winsford to meet a group of friends in the campsite. After some vicious 25% climbs we eventually followed a lovely river valley into the quaint village of Winsford with it's appealing pub. Bad news hit us immediately - the campsite was at the top of the hill. 150 metres of climbing up a 20% hill finished the day in a vicious manner - and with two sweaty, red faces.

We met our friends, made camp and then proceeded to walk straight back down the big hill to the pub. After a few flaggons of local cider the walk back up the hill was a breeze.

The following day we headed off early along the quiet lanes across moorlands. The gradients didn't let up until we found a thunderous downhill from the moor down to the small port of Watchet.


The rest of the day was spent traversing the western side of the Quantock Hills and down to the sea at Quantox Head. This spot is worthy of mention for it's amazing fossils that can be found along the beach. Go at low tide and after a storm and you are bound to find some treasures. We camped in a pub garden next to the Bridgewater road - once aqain some cloudy, dangerous looking cider took away the tiredness in the legs.

The Monday saw us cycling through Bridgewater and then out on to the Somerset levels. A spooky sort of landscape - the tor at Glastonbury a constant feature on the horizon. At Cheddar we met up with Terry's brother. It was at this stage that Isa took up Michael's offer of swapping bikes. So up through Cheddar Gorge, over the Mendips and back to Swineford found Isa on a Titanium Road Bike, Mike and Terry were loaded down with panniers trying to play catch up to Isa's new found racing speeds!



Fossil on the beach at Quantox Head



The road to Watchet


The fossils on the beach are easy to find. Luckily it is a 1 km walk from the road so it is difficult for people to take the large rocks away. We could take our bikes closer but the spirit was unwilling to load one of these monsters into our panniers.

















For more information or questions please contact us at isaetterry@mac.com