the quantock hills
We spent a weekend shooting with Aussie Grit Apparel (F1 driver Mark Webber's new riding gear brand) and thought we'd use the wonderful pictures to inspire you to get into these beautiful hills.
Let's start with some juicy facts. The Quantock Hills were the UK's first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offer mountain bikers a magnificent variety of terrain to ride, from scenic tracks up high on the heath to flowing downhills in the deep forests of the combes. The Quantocks are located one hour south from Bristol and one hour north from Exeter, forming the western border of the Somerset Levels.
a history of wonder and inspiration
The Quantock Hills have been home to the famous works of S.T. Coleridge, Williams Wordsworth, Shelley and Edward Thomas. The poets became famous for attempting to capture and share the magic in these hills through their art. Which must have been a frustrating job, because like we all know when trying to describe the flow of a mountain bike trail, words will never be enough. You gotta feeeel it.
high on the heath
From the top of the hills on a clear day, you can see across the Bristol Channel as far as the Gower Peninsula in Wales to the north, the Mendip Hills to the east, the Blackdown Hills to the south, and the Brendon Hills and Exmoor to the West. The bridleway running 20km along the top of the hills is a beautiful ride for a cyclist of any experience and makes the Quantocks a perfect location for sharing your love of mountain biking with family and friends. The leafy bridleway connects up all the combes and car parks, ideal for easy navigation.
getting your flow on
If you're thinking 'I'm a gnarly flow dog, show me the naughty stuff', then the Quantocks can provide you with everything you need. Hidden in the magical combes is the flow dreams are made of. You can ride to the soundtrack of trickling streams, surrounded by ancient woodlands. You begin to understand where the likes of Wordsworth got his power from - it may or may not be worth packing a quill in your ride bag. Check out the likes of Triscombe, Bin Combe, Frog Combe, Holford Combe and Smith's Combe.
There are ample places full of character to stop and eat, including the Carew Arms in Crowcombe (which is the only pub we've ever been into with a homemade bowling alley) and the Combe House hotel. However our personal favourite is to visit Kate and Mike's beautiful garden cafe straight off the end of the trail at Holford Combe. They serve tea, cakes and meals prepared fresh from their garden if notified in advance.
check us out
If you like the look of the kit in the photos then do go and check out Aussie Grit Apparel - their shorts have become our go to's for adventure riding. If you would like further information about mountain biking in the Quantocks or would like Trail Unknown to guide your group of mountain biking buddies then please get in contact with us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you also to Jacob at Mid Nowhere Productions for the marvellous camera skills.
Fast, rocky and rooty descents..…paired with some wind, sun, rain and a thunderstorm - it was a wild weekend! Yes - the Dark Peak is the one for an awesome weekend of adventure on two wheels!
We based ourselves in Hope, riding around Edale and the legendary Hope Valley. The Peak District is known for its amazing history and network of natural trails. Expect rocky, steep and technical tracks. Along with a rad local community of adventures, cracking coffee shops and good food.
After a quick coffee at Cafe Adventure (the perfect place to fuel up and get excited for a day out in the hills), we met our guide Rich who runs a guiding company and blog called Tyred n Cranky. If you’ve met Rich you’d remember him. He’s a giant of a man, full of laughter with a love of riding, racing and history. An ex-army, reservist, part time racer and full-time legend - we knew we’d be in good hands.
With a short steep technical climb to start we headed up to Mam Tor. At the top were gale force winds, struggling to stay on the bike we stumbled and tripoded along the ridge praying not to be blown over to Sheffield. For our first descent - a mix of open wide rocky tracks that urged you to let the brakes off.
We then ascended and descended across the hill tops to the Roych descent which has an epic singletrack that rises above a gnarly old rocky road. The great thing about the Peaks is the mix of smooth and single track like tracks that weave their way alongside the rocky bridlepaths. This is perfect to mix up the riding on a descent, allowing you to be playful with line choice and giving you a permanent grin on that mug of yours.
We stopped for lunch in Hayfield and tucked into some classic ham and cheese rolls with local cheese and chutney..ohh baby! After a quick coffee we jumped back onto the saddle in the direction of Jacobs Ladder.
As we reached the top of Jacobs Ladder it started to rain, with no time to chuck on a rain jacket we became stuck in downpour and with fast approaching lightning in the distance. I looked at Rich… his eyes were ‘lets get down…fast’. As we hurtled down thunder was cracking above us and bolts of lightning were striking around us. Luckily Jacobs Ladder is as fast and steep as it gets so we got down in no time and escaped the storm.
The storm came and went in a blink of an eye and we were back in the sun. One more climb to the top of Cavedale descent and we were done for the day. An epic wonderland descent with loose rocks and an amazing crumbling castle. The start of the descent is open wide grassland, you’re then plunged into about 100meters of just rocky and technical riding! After you’ve survived the turbulence of the rocks you’re rewarded with a grassy bank that sweeps past the abandoned castle and urges you to play on the natural rollers and kickers to link up and boost off.
We finished the ride off with a trip to The Old Hall Hotel for one of their famous steak and ale pies, washed down with a slice of chocolate cake…just laavely. If you like riding rocky tracks with varied line choice then the Peak District is the ideal location for you. The local area is also home to some awesome people and definitely worth a visit on two wheels!
Hugo and Tom are trail hunting fanatics, travelling around the UK to find the best and most beautiful wild riding locations for their mountain bikes. We write about our findings and provide professionally guided mountain bike trips to our favourite spots. We're also big believers in outdoor education for children.