Dear the mountain biking gods, thank you for saving 2017's best weather for Trail Unknown's second guided mountain bike adventure in Exmoor National Park! With dusty trails, stunning sunsets, lots of wonderfully cooked local food, it made for the perfect weekend adventure. For this trip we set up the bell tents at Spark Hayes camp site in Porlock for its awesome sea views, beautiful sunrises over the hills of Selworthy in the mornings and quick access down to the water to watch the sun setting in the evenings.
All nine of us met on Friday night at our camp site to enjoy Spanish cooked sausages from the local farm shop and the spectacular starry night skies of Exmoor around the fire. We had also managed to get our hands on a box of local cider. Now normally this is a dangerous quest, but after knocking on the front door of the 'brewery' and being greeted cautiously by the owner we managed to talk him into giving us a 10L box of his 2017 award winning medium cider, Gun Dog Millionaire. The next morning we had a delightful breakfast of fresh pastries, whortleberry jam, bacon and egg baps, porridge and cereals. Shame it was a climb out from the campsite...
We were lucky enough to spend the morning riding some of the steep and loamy tracks off the side of Porlock Hill, featuring track names such as Deer Alley and Friday Night Downhill. These natural flowing tracks took us through ancient woodland and were full of spots to take in the stunning views out to the sea. A big shout out to local shredder Luke, without a local in Exmoor you are as lost as a goat on a boat.
We rode a beautiful path across the marsh lands, followed by a staggeringly direct route (sorry everybody) up to the top of Selworthy where Hugo and Chef Brad had set up a perfect lunch spot as a reward for the climb. The lunch featured local cave aged cheese (they wouldn't tell us where this cave was), local chutneys, ham from the butcher, among other treats such as caramel waffles mmm.
Saturday was concluded by a golden sunset enjoyed at the seas edge, a spiced sweet potato and five bean curry complete with mango chutney, poppadoms, sour cream and naan breads cooked over the fire. Everyone slept well that evening under the star lit skies.
After another blissful breakfast, the group set off to the top of the Moors where we enjoyed trails that ran alongside the purple heather coating the hills. We dropped down into Hawkcoombe down a track which sweeps down the valley and into a magical forest where the trail runs next to a peaceful river. I had the pleasure of following and listening to the whoops of a very excited Jay down this trail, our first female mountain biker and ebiker on a Trail Unknown trip!
We finished on Sunday afternoon with a selection of scones, clotted cream and local jams and a closing ceremony where everybody was awarded a Trail Unknown tshirt for titles such as most photographic, best crash and most flare shorts... Thank you to Mark, Richard, Joe, Jay, Luke and Chef Brad for making our second Trail Unknown weekend another fantastic adventure.
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