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UK alternative gravel rides — Sand, rock, slate and urban riding

Adeline O'Moreau

UK alternative gravel rides — Sand, rock, slate and urban riding

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore

5

Tours

22:12 h

162 mi

9,575 ft

If you expect gravel riding in the UK to be anything like the United States, where the boom really took off, you might be disappointed. Although there are some areas of the UK that have fantastic stretches of gravel roads from the South Downs Way to the forest roads of the Scottish Borders, we simply don’t have the extensive network of rural, wide and mostly traffic-free gravel roads, or ‘groads’, like North America boasts.

What we do have, however, is arguably more exciting. A patchwork of landscapes knitted together by slivers of singletrack, by rocky doubletrack trails, by undulating bridleways and moorland tracks. Not only do we have gravel like you could buy at a garden store, but we also have slate, sand, rock and mud. In essence, in the UK, we are blessed with a multitude of different surfaces for off-road cycling, all of which can make riding drop-bar gravel bikes a bit more spicy!

Here I’ve brought together some of my favourite non-gravel ‘gravel’ Tours from all over England and Wales that’ll really test your bike handling skills. Of course, most of these could easily be ridden on a mountain bike too, and you can always get off and hike any parts that you feel uncomfortable with.

Not for the faint-hearted, these often more technical routes will take you off the beaten track to new areas of the UK that are frequently overlooked. Forget the Ridgeway, the gravel trails of the Peak, the forestry roads of Scotland or the gravel roads of the Cambrian Mountains; these Tours are for gravel riders seeking something a little different.

As a lot of these Tours feature more tricky riding, I’d recommend a gravel bike with tyres no narrower than 40mm, with decent tread and reasonably high pressures to avoid any pinch-flats on rockier sections.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    03:55
    28.9 mi
    7.4 mph
    1,350 ft
    1,350 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Who knew that Surrey, tucked down in the South East and just a stone's throw from bustling inner-city London, could be such an off-road paradise? Countless trails from bridleways to byways and quiet lanes snake between ancient woodlands and over heath covered common land, which is protected under the

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    02:30
    18.7 mi
    7.5 mph
    2,075 ft
    2,075 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    From the centre of Sheffield, also known as 'the Outdoor City', straight out into the Peak District National Park, this Tour is a great one for gravel riders that like to push the limits of drop bars off-road!

    

    Heading from the city up onto the well-known Stanage Edge, you'll face some stone slab causeways

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Intermediate
    01:39
    12.0 mi
    7.2 mph
    500 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Who said you need to get out of the city to enjoy riding off-road? Urban gravel is a delightful thing; exploring all-too-forgotten shortcuts, expansive parks surrounded by streets of houses or riverside trails just a short ride from home. It gets even better in the winter, knowing that you're never too

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    08:41
    70.0 mi
    8.1 mph
    2,050 ft
    2,050 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Okay, admittedly there are some actual gravel roads in this Tour from local rider James Deane, but there's plenty of sandy, muddy and stony tracks too!

    

    At over 70 miles (113 km), it's a pretty long gravel route, so makes for a great weekend day ride. It starts and finishes at Phoenix Cycleworks, a reallykomoot.com/collection/959316/ancient-bridleways-of-central-england-icknield-way-trail

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    05:26
    32.7 mi
    6.0 mph
    3,600 ft
    3,600 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Prepare to be transported into wild, remote country as you leave the charming town of Machynlleth behind in search of some pretty techy trails on this Tour. Instead of easy and manageable gravel roads you'll find slippery slate single track, rocky double track trails alongside Nant Y Moch Reservoir and

    by Katherine Moore

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    162 mi
  • Duration
    22:12 h
  • Elevation
    9,575 ft

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UK alternative gravel rides — Sand, rock, slate and urban riding

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