With the unfortunate cancellation of the BMW in Cumbria, here’s another chance to show your hill climbing abilities on the Quantock Hills, Somerset, UK.
The Quantock Hills are a fairly compact ridge between Exmoor and Taunton, to the south of the Bristol Channel. The ridge is only about ten miles long but contains one of the highest concentrations of bridleways in the country, so is very popular with cyclists. Along the top of the ridge is a fairly level green lane suitable for riders of all abilities, while the combes on either side of the “inverted jelly mould” shape provide some fantastic descents and challenging climbs for the adventurous.
There are two YHA hostels within spitting distance of the hills for people who enjoy a roof over their head. There are a few campsites around but more research on my part is needed before deciding on one for those who wish to camp (yay!) so watch this space for updates.
At the bottom of an excellent descent to the north of the ridge lies a good tea room; there are numerous pubs all around, and there’s generally an ice-cream van at the top.
The date - 4th-5th of June - is under quite a few constraints, so apologies to people who aren’t available that weekend. Any earlier and it runs into various university dates; any later and it conflicts with the Solent ride the week after and the Mountain Mayhem later that month. However if anyone feels like visiting any other weekend drop me a line…
A map of the hills can be found here. The ridge runs roughly north-west to south east; the Forestry Commission land to the south has some good fire roads and a few short technical sections, while the more open land to the north contains many miles of singletrack. The hills are easy to get to; twenty minutes by road from Taunton or Bridgwater on the M5. Bridgwater and Taunton have stations, and anyone arriving by train should have no difficultly scrounging a lift from there to the hills (I go past that way, as will anyone else driving there).
Phil, thanks for organising this… I’ve never ridden off-road with anybody else before, so I’d love to come along - but I don’t think I can make the whole weekend. Chances are I should be able to make Saturday though - where and when are you meeting up? (I couldn’t find it on your website - could be I’m just being a muppet though).
Firm plans depend on me going over to check out the campsite, which I still haven’t actually got around to yet for one reason or another. Next weekend!
The place I have my eye on is right at the top end of the ridge near the exotic tropical shore of the Bristol Channel. The Saturday ride will start from there and cover the northern end of the hills. There’s a nearby car park here which has the advantage of being most of the way up the hill already.
At previous BMWs I think we’ve generally tried to get going by about 10am-ish. The tea room isn’t far away, though, so there’s no great hurry…
The plan for Sunday is to drive around to a car park near the middle of the hills on the road between Crowcombe and Nether Stowey and exploring the southern end.
I’ve updated the webpage with a few odds and sods (such as getting the blummin’ date right!). I’ve found a campsite at Moorhouse Farm, just north of Holford. It’s £6.50 per pitch per night… the Quantocks doesn’t appear to be a particularly cheap place for camping, unfortunately. This place appears to be one of the few without electricity and Sky TV hookups at each pitch (no, really)…
If those who are interested in camping could drop me a line so I can give the campsite a vague idea of how many people to expect that would be great.
For people just coming for the day on Saturday this means they will be best joining us in Holford; there’s a car park right at the bottom of Hodder’s Combe here. This combe will (probably) be the last descent of the day, specially chosen so you won’t have time to dry off from the stream crossings before getting back in your nice clean cars. Mwuahahaha…
Aaargh, my thunder has been utterly, irretrievably stolen!
But yes, come to our Quantocks Barbeque, and stay for a bit of a ride around too. This includes you northern lot, who have been very quiet so far. Don’t worry, I can find some easy hills if you’re worried that it’s just too steep for you…
I haven’t been keeping track of numbers… I think if the three of you come along it’ll make it up to approaching 15, I think.
Trials unis with fat tyres will be fine; they aren’t so good for zooming long distances but there are plenty of good routes that don’t involve going too far. Thin-tyred 20s would be difficult going, however.