Katherine Moore

Heath, woods, farm tracks and sea views — Exeter gravel routes

Katherine Moore

Heath, woods, farm tracks and sea views — Exeter gravel routes

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore

7

Tours

33:02 h

263 mi

17,225 ft

The capital of Devon, Exeter is a historic city placed on the River Exe, which flows into the magnificent Exe Estuary, known for fantastic bird life, seafood and shellfish. Surrounded by hills in all directions, there’s an incredible choice of off-road riding in this rural county, with many bridleways, muddy farm tracks, heathland gravel roads and woodland singletrack.

With two national parks, Dartmoor to the west and Exmoor to the north, it’s all too easy to travel to these areas to ride while overlooking what surrounds the city. The Pebblebed Heaths of East Devon, forests of Haldon Hill, valleys of the Teign, Otter and Clyst rivers all offer an impressively varied assortment of terrain, as well as gorgeous sea views from the estuary and Devon coastline.

These Tours vary just as much as the terrain around Devon, both in length and technicality. Choose from a quick jaunt up onto the wide gravel tracks of Woodbury Common and the challenge of the blue mountain biking flow trails at Haldon, to day-long epics across the countryside.

If you’re a wildlife lover, you’re in for a real treat. There are numerous RSPB sites including Goosemoor at Topsham, Aylesbeare Common and the Powderham Marshes, plus Exeter’s Riverside Valley Park, and East Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, all yielding a wonderful array of fauna and flora. Look out for wading birds on the estuary’s mudflats, coastal seabirds and heathland birds like stonechats and nightjars. The area is also favoured by many migratory species, so you can enjoy spotting different bird life year-round.

The only wildlife that you need to be wary of are ticks and adders, both of which can be potentially dangerous. Make sure you check yourself over for ticks after riding and remove them correctly. If you’re on common land on hotter summer days and are lucky enough to see an adder, make sure you leave it plenty of space. An adder bite is painful but rarely fatal; you should still seek hospital treatment.

These routes all start either in central Exeter or just on the edges, which can usually be easily accessed via small roads, lanes and cycle paths. A gravel bike is the best tool for these routes, with a good mix of both techy terrain and linking lanes, although you could also use a rigid or hardtail mountain bike.

These Tours will change drastically from summer to winter, thanks to the generous helping of rain we get here in the winter, so make sure you leave extra time for navigating sloppy trails when wet. Waterproof socks and mudguards are highly recommended!

If you’re travelling to Exeter from elsewhere, you can make use of the great train network linking the city to London and Bristol, as well as local trains to Topsham, Dawlish, Honiton and Exmouth which help to avoid some urban riding. As with most cities, Exeter can get congested in the centre and parking can be pricey, so if you’re driving to the city, it’s best to park out of town.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    02:31
    18.8 mi
    7.5 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,150 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This shorter Tour is a great loop from Topsham, a gorgeous town on the Exe Estuary that you can reach from Exeter down the canal towpath via a seasonal ferry, …

  • Difficult
    05:21
    42.7 mi
    8.0 mph
    2,900 ft
    2,900 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Enjoy some spicy MTB trails on this Tour to the west of the city with this longer Tour taking in the hillside of Haldon and some blue-rated singletrack. The Spicers …

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  • Difficult
    06:35
    52.7 mi
    8.0 mph
    3,200 ft
    3,200 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    A longer and more challenging Tour, this route takes in Killerton National Trust and Ashclyst Forest to the north-east of Exeter, before heading further east around Ottery St Mary to …

  • Difficult
    05:04
    41.5 mi
    8.2 mph
    2,450 ft
    2,450 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Taking in parts of Woodbury Common, the River Otter, Aylesbeare and Venn Ottery Common, this tour offers great on and off road riding year round, though there may be some …

  • Difficult
    05:15
    42.3 mi
    8.1 mph
    2,025 ft
    2,025 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Although the hillside to the west of the Exe may not boast the same commonland as to the east, there are still many great forest tracks and bridleways to explore, …

  • Difficult
    04:47
    34.4 mi
    7.2 mph
    3,325 ft
    3,325 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The River Teign makes for an excellent setting for gravel riding, with many delightful bridleways along the water and high-level tracks to Castle Drogo too. Starting from Exe Bridges to …

  • Intermediate
    03:29
    30.0 mi
    8.6 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,175 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Starting from Clyst St Mary, a village on the River Clyst to the east of Exeter, this circular Tour reaches above the popular seaside town of Sidmouth, taking in several …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    263 mi
  • Duration
    33:02 h
  • Elevation
    17,225 ft

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Katherine Moore

Heath, woods, farm tracks and sea views — Exeter gravel routes