1,218 Mi.(1,960 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Miles is founder of The Racing Collective, a UK-based bikepacking club with a mission to establish the UK’s first crowdfunded National Park.
Photos by Dan Monghan and Gruber Images
We sought to utilise the versatility of ‘all-road’ bikes by designing a route that links GB’s most remote off-road riding via small roads, following the most direct natural line possible. The route passes through several National Parks (NP), areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and other mountain ranges including Exmoor NP, Quantock Hills AONB, Mendip Hills AONB, Brecon Beacons NP, Cambrian Mountains (aka the Desert of Wales), Snowdonia NP, Yorkshire Dales NP, North Pennines AONB, Kielder Forest Park, Scottish Borders, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs NP, Cairngorm NP, and the Scottish Highlands. With ~30,000m of climbing packed into the ~2,000km route, this is one for the mountain lovers.
The route also pays homage to Britain’s past, passing sights such as Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Falkirk Wheel, as well as providing a glimpse into vibrant city life by passing through Manchester city centre. It will also give riders an insight into the similarities and differences of the three countries that make up Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland). It is also full of contrasts; from the buzz of city life to the remoteness of Wales and the Highlands; from remnants of dark satanic mills to state-of-the-art wind farms; from fast road/gravel sections to singletrack and the odd hike-a-bike.
Much of the GB DIVIDE is on road and easy forestry tracks and is designed for gravel bikes. That said, many of the singletrack sections and mountain passes are more suited to mountain bikes (e.g. in Scotland, much of the route follows the easier bits of the Highland Trail 550 route). Riding a fully loaded gravel bike over this terrain takes skill and patience, with inevitable hike-a-bike sections in some places. In addition, despite the island’s high population density, the route can be devoid of resupply points for significant periods, particularly in Wales, northern England, and the Highlands.
The route was created by Miles Resso, but it has been a collaborative effort from leading members of The Racing Collective; shout out to Ed Wolstenholme, Stu Allan, Liam Glen, Tom Probert, Luke Douglas, Katherine Moore, and many others for participating in the plan-recce-refine feedback loop. The route also makes use of several existing routes such as parts of the HT550, the Badger Divide, and the Second City Divide.
In theory the route follows the watershed (hence the name GB Divide), but geography was never our strong point and we make no apologies for deviating wildly from this theoretical line in order to take in the beauty of mid-Wales for instance. Some also claim the route should start in SE England rather than SW England but we don’t see the logic given the North Sea and English Channel are all part of the Atlantic, and besides, we’ll take Cornwall over the M25 any day.
The route is used for The Racing Collective’s GBDURO where it’s broken down into four timed stages, with the rider with the lowest aggregate time winning… nothing. The route was first completed by Lachlan Morton (EF Education First) on 28 June 2019 during the inaugural #GBDURO19 ride—make sure to watch the film.
We have deliberately provided minimum information (such as resupply waypoints etc) for this route as not knowing, and finding out, is half the appeal. A big reason for devising this route was to show UK based riders that they do not have to get on a plane to have an ‘adventure’; listing every water/food stop, dodgy hike-a-bike/singletrack section, etc etc would dumb it down and diminish future riders’ experience. So please respect our wishes and help preserve the unknown nature of this route for future riders to enjoy.
Other rules for completing the route as an ITT are provided on the GB DIVIDE website.
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As the leading creator and publisher of bikepacking routes, BIKEPACKING.com endeavors to maintain, improve, and advocate for our growing network of bikepacking routes all over the world. As such, our editorial team, route creators, and Route Stewards serve as mediators for route improvements and opportunities for connectivity, conservation, and community growth around these routes. To facilitate these efforts, we rely on our Bikepacking Collective and the greater bikepacking community to call attention to critical issues and opportunities that are discovered while riding these routes. If you have a vital issue or opportunity regarding this route that pertains to one of the subjects below, please let us know:
- Spend an evening watching the sunset from Sennen beach before starting
- Enjoy the contrast of leafy singletrack near Bristol before bursting into the city
- Take in the most beautiful broadleaf woodland of the route on the run in to Usk
- Soak up those long lost 1990s MTB vibes getting over The Gap, Brecon Beacons
- Go for a pint at Neuadd Arms Hotel, Llanwrtyd Wells
- Pay homage to Walter MacGregor Robinson by signing the visitor’s book on the Wayfarer’s traverse, North Wales
- Take in the contrast of Manchester City centre transitioning to the flowy singletrack of the Pennine Bridleway
- Marvel at the technological wizardry that is Falkirk Wheel
- Stop at Loch Ossian YHA (and mentally prepare for Corrieyairack Pass!)
- Snap the obligatory pic at John O’Groats signpost before retreating to the Seaview Hotel
- Go anytime, but May to September is recommended; during the summer day/night temperatures typically vary between 25/10 degrees celsius (77/50° F). Plan for rain and be pleasantly surprised; plan for four seasons in a day in Scotland. Prevailing wind is from the south-west.
- You’ll want a setup that rolls well but can handle the rough stuff… an adventure/gravel bike with 700c x 40mm tyres would be ideal
- Take the train to Penzance (sleeper from London is possible) and ride a few miles to the start
- On the return, cycle a few miles down the coast to Wick where you can get a train to Inverness; from there the sleeper service to London is a good option
- Unfortunately you’ll have to get over/through LOTS of gates on the route; it reaches fever pitch during sections of the Pennine Bridleway where the gate mafia has enforced the installation of an obscene amount of gates—please feed this back so we can try and get some obsolete gates removed
- Wild camping is permitted in Scotland but not England and Wales (with the odd exception) so use your own judgement and remember that not everything that is illegal is wrong, and not everything that is legal is right
- There are a few bothies on the route which are a must if you haven’t stayed in one before
- Alternatively there are lots of B&Bs and independent hotels on the route (although this would nullify your ITT attempt as per the rules set out on the GB DIVIDE website).
- Water is generally quite easy to come by throughout the route, but it can be devoid of food resupply points for significant periods, particularly in Wales, northern England, and the Highlands
- You are advised to try as many local delicacies as possible… think Cornish pasties, Welsh cawl, Yorkshire pudding, and when you make it to Scotland… a pie in a bun followed by a deep fried pizza
In keeping with our philosophy of ‘less is more’ we are deliberately keeping this section light.
We can reassure you that most of the route is rideable but you will be pushing the bike from time to time; for us that is a price worth paying to get off the beaten track. There will also be a few bits of awkward/tricky singletrack sections but nothing you could not walk up/down if you are not comfortable riding. You’ll also have to ford a couple of streams/small rivers. Lastly, the route uses lots of little country lanes with poor surfaces and limited visibility so riding alert and in control at all times is a must. It also pops on and off-road continuously so wearing bright clothing and having good quality lights is highly recommended.
This route will be most enjoyed by those who share a love for mountains, nature, remoteness, and the unexpected, in an otherwise orderly and densely populated little island. In the UK, over centuries, ‘development’ in the form of modern agriculture, roads, and houses etc has been valued more by society than preserving our wild spaces. The Racing Collective long-term aim is to fight this trend, by establishing the UK’s first crowdfunded National Park for our adventurous ancestors to enjoy. We’d be delighted if you join us on the journey. Chances of success are slim… but that’s half the fun.
Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.