Bikepacking Exmoor & Quantock Hills
114 Mi.(183 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Tour In Tune
Weaving through the heart of the Devonshire countryside, this route covers some of the best trails and dirt roads in Exmoor Park and Quantock Hills, whilst not forgetting the importance of a traditional Devonshire cream tea and scones.
Starting from Taunton train station, the route climbs into a network of singletrack in the Quantock Hills before joining a highlight section of the epic EWE route. There are several optional ‘spur’ sections that can be cut out easily depending on how you’re feeling.
The lush, green landscape calls for well-deserved tea breaks from the short, steep climbs. Pit stops are never far away as you ride through numerous quaint countryside towns and villages.
- Both the Quantock Hills and Exmoor’s trail network offers some of the best natural singletrack in England.
- The easy grade sections of the EWE route follow stream beds through the Quantock valleys.
- Dunster Castle is a beautiful sight from afar, but possibly not worth the entry fee (unless you really like castles). Instead, head into Dunster Village for a pot of local honey.
- Dunkery Beacon is a great camp spot with panoramic views. The sunsets over the Bristol Channel are spectacular.
- The Southwest Coastal trail is a bit of a scramble on a loaded bike, but there are some stunning sea views for those with the trail legs.
- Exford Tea Rooms offer a traditional Devonshire cream tea amidst quirky old fashioned decor.
- A historic ‘clapper’ bridge called Tarr Steps dates back to 1000BC. Tackle the river crossings upstream when the water levels are low enough.
- Weather in Exmoor is unpredictable, but July-October is a safe bet. Not only will there be less chance of rain, but the trails and bridleways will have had more time to dry out over the Spring and Summer months. Either way, waterproof jackets and shelter are a must!
- Taunton is good place to start if arriving by train. It’s only about three hours from London. Bikes are allowed on the trains for free, but it’s best to reserve a space in advance (there are only 2-4 bikes allowed per train).
- If you plan on incorporating this into a longer cycling tour, a great connection would be the EWE bikepacking route.
- Keep your food out of reach from the Exmoor ponies when wild camping on the moors. We had a particularly cheeky pony looking for handouts.
- There are a few sections of trail that are technically ‘footpath’, so cycling is not officially allowed, but local riders do use these sections and it’s very unlikely to upset anyone. If you find yourself cycling on narrow singletrack and come across a walker, just be courteous and give them the right of way. Almost no one will have an issue with bikes.
- Wild camping is tolerated within Exmoor National Park so long as you are not visible from the trails or roads. You must move on each day, and don’t hop fences when near private land.
- We wild camped at three different spots (marked on the GPS route). These are Cothelstone Hill, Dunkery Beacon, and the lookout near Halse Farm. We also spotted several other suitable spots along the way.
- There are two very affordable YHA hostels (Exford and Minehead); this provides a good backup plan if weather is poor.
- There are also various ‘pay’ campsites and B&B options throughout the area, but they tend to be a bit overpriced.
- Most towns and villages in Devon have pubs or ‘tea rooms’ – the most notable spots are marked on the map.
- The Exford Tea Rooms for traditional Devonshire ‘cream tea’ – homemade scones with clotted cream and jam.
- Pullhams Mill between Brompton Regis and Wimbleball Lake offers massive portions of delicious homemade cakes.
- The public toilets marked on the map are a good opportunity to fill up on drinking water.
- There are plenty of gushing streams throughout the route, but it’s a good idea to use a water filter or purification tablets.
- The river section leading to Tarr Steps includes two river crossings. It’s fairly easy during drier months, but it might be too difficult after a big rainfall. It’s easy to cut out this trail section by continuing on Worth Lane to Room Hill Road through Hawkridge and back up to Tarr Steps from the south.
- The section of the SW Trail starting at around 100km should be considered optional. It’s technically a ‘footpath’, so cycling is not officially allowed, but local riders say it’s a popular route.
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