Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

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Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby shane » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:55 pm

Hi,

Though very early in the dreaming and maybe planning stage, it would make sense to try something closer to home first.

Anyone got tips for long distance mountain bike routes in the UK, say 500km/up to 3 weeks challenging/singletrack though not too technical. Thinking bikepacking style with 3-4 days between food resupply. I have zero bike-packing experience but have done a couple of adventurous tours travelling heavy (very heavy) on bad roads.

Ooh and preferably not snowed in oct-nov..... I assume these routes exist, though the first page of google wasn't really doing it.

Thanks...
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby lisap » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:12 am

There is an off road version of LEJOG. It used bridle paths and similar rights of way and I'm sure it was ridden and published by 2 girls a few years ago.

I will do some digging around in my route library and see if I can find a copy but I think it was published in the CTC route library.

If you then venture further afield there is a Spanish route which takes in some 7 southern areas and is 2000 km long. Also published online with very good route planning help, GPS points, accommodation etc. it's called the TransAndalusia.org or similar.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby honesty » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:43 am

the first one that jumps to my mind is the national trail- the Pennine Bridleway (NOT the Pennine cycleway). Its only 200 miles long though (and I dont think the top bit is fully sign posted yet)

Other than that you may want to look at something like the Greater Ridgeway - 360ish miles from Lime Regis to Hunstanton. It's made up of 4 signposted walking paths - The Wessex Ridgeway, The Ridgeway National Trail, the Icknield Way and the Peddars Way National Trail. At least some of these paths allow mountain biking (being bridleways), some are footpaths and I don't know the specifics of each.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby honesty » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:23 am

A quick recce of the routes online show that the Peddlars Way is good for cycling. The Ridgeway is mostly Bridleway. the Icknield Way has an official route for cyclists and horses, called the Ickield Way trail. The Wessex Ridgeway has a really detailed guide here which is showing a full cycling route as well. So the full route should be cycle-able, with the majority off road.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby simonhill » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:53 am

Peddlars Way!! Truly a Freudian slip. Its the Peddars Way. A nice 2 day ride across Norfolk.

Back in the '80s when I got a mountain bike, I looked for decent off road touring routes. At that time there were very few published ones and so I often cobbled together what routes I could find.

Canal towpaths were good and could often be linked to make a route, eg Oxford, Grand Union and Aylesbury circuit. The Kennet and Avon is a good one, but linear. Some towpaths are easy, but some can be tough, rough and muddy if you want a bit more of a challenge.

The long distance trails are good and well described nowadays. Many are bridalways so can be cycled although they sometimes have annoying footpath sections. The Ridgeway, South Downs Way, etc can be connected with a bit of on road cycling to make a decent route.

I heard a radio programme a few years ago about someone taking a horse on the Offa's Dyke Trail. That would make a good ride.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of off road routes, but you need to be a bit creative to join them into a longer tour.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby mercalia » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:26 pm

in south england U have the Downslink path from Guildford to the south coast and also a canal path that goes from Weybridge to Guildford ( Wey navigation ). There is of course the South Downs ( path )
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby Dudley Manlove » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:37 pm

I've done a few of the Southern ones (South Downs, Ridgeway, Peddlars). They make an enjoyable weekend, but don't quite sound what you're looking for in terms of wilderness (although there's the odd section of the SDW that if you squint you could be in the Highlands). And to drag them out into something longer - +1 to what Simonhill says - you'll have to get the OS maps out and be creative. Canals are okay for a while, but can old pretty quick.

There's an off-road transpennie coast to coast that's supposed to be damn tough, I forget what it's called now. ofc you could probably work something out in the Highlands.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby irc » Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:56 pm

shane wrote:up to 3 weeks challenging/singletrack though not too technical...


For challenging a route could be put together in the highlands. But it's always going to involved a mix of landrover/forestry tracks, some singletrack, a bit of pushing, linked by short road sections.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby StirlingCrispin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:41 pm

Have a look at the route used by the Highland Trail 550.
http://www.highlandtrail.net/

Can be done in 4 days (without sleep!) but a couple of weeks would make a decent holiday.

Alternatively, the Cape Wrath trail (Fort Bill to Cape Wrath) could keep you occupied for a while.
http://capewrathtrailguide.org/route/

Over three-four days, the Tour of the Cairngorms is another option.
Could be easily linked into the above routes - or done as a wee warmup.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby DaveGos » Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:45 pm

There are always canal towpaths
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby shane » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:22 pm

Thanks everyone for the great tips :), now to pick up a second hand mountain bike and make some frame bags :)

Spotted the highland trail website yesterday too, that looks lovely.

Now just the small issue of accepting that cycling in the UK in November will be wet :shock:

Thanks all,
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby iviehoff » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:36 am

shane wrote:Now just the small issue of accepting that cycling in the UK in November will be wet

With British weather being what it is, you can't rely even on that. But it is clearly sensible to expect it to be wet.

But I was surprised to discover during a dry and warm autumn recently that it doesn't take much moisture to make paths and tracks in clay areas sticky, and you can rely on the fact that evaporation will be fairly low by late autumn, so once they get sticky after about mid-October, they tend to remain sticky thereafter. So in November I probably wouldn't be doing the extended Ridgeway or Cotswolds or anything to the SE of that region, because there is a lot of clay in SE and central southern and eastern England. Less sticky trails tend to lie to the W and NW of that line.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby irc » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:06 pm

shane wrote:Now just the small issue of accepting that cycling in the UK in November will be wet :shock:

Thanks all,


And that by mid November in the northern highlands there will be only 8 hours daylight.
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby shane » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:39 pm

irc wrote:And that by mid November in the northern highlands there will be only 8 hours daylight.


8 hours would be a luxury compared to my last 2 trips 8) , long hours of dark also mean easy wild camping and 12 hours hibernation to restore my superpowers :)
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Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

Postby irc » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:50 pm

shane wrote:
irc wrote:And that by mid November in the northern highlands there will be only 8 hours daylight.


8 hours would be a luxury compared to my last 2 trips 8) , long hours of dark also mean easy wild camping and 12 hours hibernation to restore my superpowers :)


Forgot your masochistic tendencies Shane. I'm too much of a softie to wild camp for 3 weeks in November. Though I guess you could use bothies for at least half the time, if not more which would make things easier.
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