When I moved to the UK in 2016, my bike became my primary mode of exploring this beautiful country and culture. I would look at the map of the South West and mark the places that I felt curious about. These included random areas of natural beauty, general places of interest, the highest hill in every county, beaches, places of historical or geographical importance and, frankly, even some places with funny names... 🤷🏽♀️
Last year, I thought it’d be fun to put a route together between some of those locations, as well as add in some new places that I’ve been wanting to explore.
Most of the route is rideable on a gravel bike with 35mm+ tyres with occasional short hike-a-bike sections. But hey - is it even an adventure without a healthy dose of those? Apart from a couple of muddy bridleways which might be hard to ride through in winter, most of the remaining route is rideable throughout the year.
The idea of this route is to explore the best of South West England on a bike. Along the way, you'll find several excellent wild swimming spots, remote wild camping spots, easy gravel paths and quiet country roads. Crossing all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and both the big National Parks in the South West region, this is a route that offers many adventurous possibilities along the way.
Starting from Christchurch for the first stage, I crossed through Hurn Forest, Moors Valley Country Park, Martin Down Nature Reserve, Cranborne Chase AONB and finally through the western bit of North Wessex Downs AONB.
This was a mostly gravel route with some quiet country lanes and a couple of great…
This day involved riding past the impressive Avebury Stone Circle, crossing into Cotswolds and proceeding further south towards Bristol, of course, involving a swim in the River Avon.
I followed quiet country roads for the most part, with bits of sweet gravel in between.
10 points for spotting where I…
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This was my favourite day! I rode across the Mendips, then across the Quantock Hills towards Exmoor.
It was a long day, with a lot of hike-a-bike too. What's more, not all of the bike-pushing was uphill, some of it, especially down off the Mendip Hills into Cheddar, which with my bike setup seemed pretty…
I rode across Exmoor and into the North Devon AONB on day four. I ditched the bike at Hartland and went for a walk to Hartland Point.
Oh, you better believe there was a sea swim involved (not near Hartland point, it was somewhere else)! 🤩
At the end of the day, I found a sweet campsite near Welcombe.
I think I had exaggerated the steepness of the hills in my head, because they were nowhere as bad as what I'd pictured, phew!
Bodmin AONB was incredible! It definitely involved questionable navigation choices and bike-pushing through bog. Yay me! 😬
I took a little trip into Bodmin town later and I was…
Finally, an easy day on bike! There were loads of quiet country roads mixed in with some sweet, sweet gravel here.
The road from St Ives to St Just along the coast is dreamy dreamy DREAMY! There's views for days 🤩
There are some seriously great swim spots near Mousehole and Penzance. Cornish towns are so beautiful: Penzance, Helston, Falmouth, St Austell from this day.
I have ridden through these towns before, but this time, I got so much more time and space to enjoy them! Many cafe stops, multiple swims, and a chill pace.
A very familiar bit of this route and, oh my goodness, the hills (in a very good way)!
This is a less than adventurous route across Dartmoor, which I don't regret, because any route across Dartmoor was going to be equally beautiful.
I went on a bit of an autopilot mode for most of the ride. As the day…
Crossing the rest of Dartmoor, through Exeter, across Blackdown Hills and into Dorset AONB.
This turned out to be a very hot day, and beautiful views on the penultimate day of this ride!
Back home, the long way around! I enjoyed some great bits of Purbeck countryside, and I couldn't have been happier knowing that maybe I hadn't had all the adventures that I'd have liked to have along the way, but certainly did pick and choose my adventures and thoroughly enjoy myself!
Of course, the ride…
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