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Mountain biking on Dartmoor — tales, trails and hounds

James Vincent

Mountain biking on Dartmoor — tales, trails and hounds

Mountain Biking Collection by Barney

7

Tours

21:28 h

146 mi

15,200 ft

More than a few people, when faced with the prospect of riding Dartmoor, will turn their noses up and insist that there is far better riding elsewhere: but they're just not looking hard enough. Sure, Dartmoor's reputation - all Sherlock Holmes, bleak prisons, mysterious hounds, curling mists and sudden death in boggy expanses - is well earned, but there is an abundance of excellent riding to be had too.

For every bleak moor top, there's a wooded cleave, festooned with boulders just asking to be ridden over. For every boggy expanse, there's a lithe slice of singletrack waiting to beckon your tyres. And yes, the place is rich with folklore, Piskies (local pixies) wreaking havoc, and mysterious flowers laid on three hundred year old suicide graves sited on crossroads.

So if your tastes turn to the mysterious as well as the mountain bike, you'll find much to enjoy. And even if you don't, there's more than enough here to keep you occupied. Take a spin around Hound Tor and Lustleigh Cleave for truly exceptional - and unique - technical riding experiences. Shiver as you orbit the prison village of Princetown, or explore the meaning of solitude as you cross the moors south of Postbridge. And more - these Tours collate some of the best riding in Dartmoor, and they'll leave you thirsty for more moor adventures!

Large swathes of the north of the moor are given over to the Ministry of Defence’s firing range. It’s still perfectly possible to ride there, but you do need to check online at gov.uk/government/publications/dartmoor-firing-programme to make sure your ride isn’t curtailed by a surly soldier - or by an errant tank.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Hound Tor, Lustleigh Cleave and Hameldown — Dartmoor mountain biking

    Difficult
    04:18
    25.2 mi
    5.9 mph
    3,675 ft
    3,650 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This is a superlative ride, which demonstrates with astounding finality that Dartmoor's riding can be truly unexpected. Although, OK, there are some bleak and misty moors to ride, too. It's very much a ride of two halves - the first half is the bleak and beautiful moorland you might expect; the second

    by Barney

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  • Intermediate
    02:03
    14.4 mi
    7.0 mph
    975 ft
    975 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Princetown (it's actually a village) is pretty much at the heart of Dartmoor. But it's not hard to see why the place has persisted; originally established with a view to farming the area, the enormous and conspicuous prison (now category C, for less violent offenders) keeps the village ticking over

    by Barney

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  • Intermediate
    01:33
    11.0 mi
    7.1 mph
    925 ft
    925 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    This loop is a great little Tour, exploring some of the lesser known trails in the area. Although there are sections of singletrack, they're pretty reasonable to ride for much of the year, and there's not much climbing for the distance involved.

    

    From Postbridge, the trail heads out (over a ford) and

    by Barney

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  • Difficult
    05:27
    38.9 mi
    7.1 mph
    3,650 ft
    3,625 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    This ride is a whopper, there's no two ways about it. But it's a do-able whopper nonetheless. It may be long, but it's relatively straightforward on the climbing front for its length. Mind you, you'll feel it in your legs once you're done. But try to ensure you do it when the weather's good – this can

    by Barney

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  • Intermediate
    02:39
    17.2 mi
    6.5 mph
    2,025 ft
    2,025 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    This is another Tour which dips its toes into the firing range that encompasses much of the north of Dartmoor. Before you ride, it's always best to check the current firing programme - see below for the link.

    

    

    Military fun and games aside, this is a great little spin around some of the lesser known parts

    by Barney

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  • Intermediate
    02:54
    23.1 mi
    8.0 mph
    2,300 ft
    2,300 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Okehampton, sited at the very northern edge of Dartmoor, originally grew on the medieval wool trade, but in the modern era the town is perhaps best known for its large military training facility.

    

    Indeed, this ride (and many others which may strike out onto the moor from Okehampton) runs through the Okehampton

    by Barney

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  • Intermediate
    02:34
    15.9 mi
    6.2 mph
    1,700 ft
    1,675 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    For such a tiny village, Postbridge does have a fine array of riding from the doorstep - as long as you're keen on open moorland, and river crossings, that is.

    

    But of course, open moorland is not all there is to proceedings, though. This ride has a little bit of everything - singletrack, woods, river

    by Barney

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    146 mi
  • Duration
    21:28 h
  • Elevation
    15,200 ft

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