After a winter spent dreaming of dusty trails, Trail Unknown started the 2018 summer season off with a guided weekend linking some of the best natural trails the UK has to offer in the hilly heaven of Devon that is Exmoor National Park.
The idea of Trail Unknown is to find an amazingly beautiful area in the UK such as a national park or area of outstanding natural beauty, where we know there is a mysterious maze of magnificent single track. We put on a professional local guide who knows how to link the most talked about and least talked about tracks in the area. We get a load of awesome riders to join us who are supposedly customers but feel like mates, provide lunch from local produce and enjoy a full weekend of the best riding ever with not a worry in sight. We even throw in a cheeky uplift from a local farmer sometimes. For 50 squidders a day, you can't go wrong.
It all began on Friday morning, meeting in the quaint English town of Porlock. Now if you've never been there, you must think of mega old pubs, colourful tea houses, little cottages, sea views, friendly old people who make delicious cheese and cider, deer, the second highest point in the south of England, soo many trails, and dreamy combes. A combe 'is a short valley or hollow on a hillside or coastline, especially in Southern England.' Exmoor is full of magical combes that twist and turn with the hill, where the ancient woodland is epic and the ground is just like the best ground ever to ride, so loose and yet with so much grip. Oh baby, it's all about the combes..
The riding in Exmoor is such a treat and blessed by over 500 meters of altitude at the legendary Dunkery Becon. From there you have a huge selection of sweeping trails from the open moorland that take you all the way down to sea level, through many a combe and sometimes with a few cheeky stream crossings that are always a fun challenge.
With no set path to any of our trips (it's in the name - Trail Unknown), we ride something for everyone. The beauty of natural style riding is that you ride the tracks at whatever speed you like, however playfully you like and it will always put a big muddy smile on your face.
After a morning enjoying the hills, what more could you want than to turn up to a serene spot with lunch laid out ready for you? Because that's the kind of service you get with Trail Unknown. Cake and all.
Where else could you finish the weekend but at the tea house for some scones, clotted cream and jam. A massive thank you to Dan French for a fantastic weekend of tasty trail selection, to Mark Brewer at Exmoor MTB Uplifts, to Joey Millward at Millward Media for the pics and videos, and to everyone who came and made it one of the best Trail Unknown weekends so far. If you'd like to join us on our next trip, see our dates below.
At last year’s South West Outdoor festival, Hugo was so inspired by Jamie McDonald's talk on running across Canada that - having never run more than 6km before - he borrowed a pair of shoes two sizes too small and ran a full trail marathon on Sunday up and down Cheddar Gorge. Respect.
Read Hugo's full story below, it's ridiculous.
Being easily influenced is not a great trait for protecting your family’s honour. Sadly, at the South West Outdoor Festival 2017, I was that man. There we were, fresh from having thrown majestic shapes to the 7 piece ska band Crinkle Cuts, we decided to settle round the fire.
The idea was brief but powerful. The Cheddar Gorge trail marathon was the next morning and hey, a marathon can’t be that difficult, right? Fresh from a round of beers and with the taste of curry on my breath, I reasoned that:
A. A marathon couldn’t be that hard
B. I was promised an onion bhaji if I finished
C. I was easily influenced and in need of an adventure
The inevitable happened and I woke up confused with Marathons on my mind. I found an undefended can of beans and set off in search of running shoes. 1x pair of shoes that were two sizes too small later, I found the organiser man who gave me a free entry because there would be no way I would finish..thanks again Relish The Great Outdoors. I settled in for my pre race poop having just signed up to race. To my horror, the gun went off and I burst out of the portaloo pulling up my trousers to get stuck in.
Except I didn’t.
I ran the wrong way.
The crowd were on hand to laugh at me and point me in the right direction. I died a little inside. But I was still excited, ambitious and full of the desire to get this over and done with.
And so I ran.
And it hurt.
And this was only 15 minutes in.
6 hours later I was a changed man. But heading across the finish line. Broken, full of self loathing, and boasting the only case of a 23 year old with rapid onset arthritis and joint failure.
Like an angel from the mist, my bhaji man emerged (everyone else had left). Soggy and dissappointing to most, it was the greatest thing that had ever and will happen to my mouth. I ate. I cried. I regretted.
I would do it all over again, a thousand times over.
Hugo and I will be at the Top of the Gorge festival this year doing mountain bike skills sessions and encouraging people try out our mountain bike challenge course! Use promotional code TRAILTEN for a 10% discount to the Top of the Gorge festival 22-24 June, or code TOTG1 for a free tshirt.
I often love to ride without earphones in and enjoy listening to the sound of the birds singing, tyres ripping, Hugo whooping or even to take a moment to appreciate the deep quietness of the forest. But then there are other times, where the sound of sweet, sweet music in my ears is perfect for keeping my legs spinning and my heart boogeying!
That’s all for now folks. Keep supporting your local live music venue and bands! Make sure you know what guided mountain bike trips we’re running this year and enjoy riding your bikes to your new music.
For this installment of our 'Through the eyes of local' blog series, we asked local rider Jacob Martin what he loves about riding the Pembrokeshire National Park and why it is definitely worth a visit with your bike.
From all across the county on any day the cloud has lifted high enough you can see a long set of unique hills. The highest point stands at 536m above sea level and one of the rocky outcrops about half way along was found to be the origin for some of the stone used to build Stonehenge.
The Preseli Hills, or Mynyddoedd y Preseli as they are known in Welsh, are the home to some amazing cross country mountain biking which ranges from fast flowing natural singletrack to technical rocky climbs. This riding is on the bridleways and forest tracks that lace the hills and nearby Gwaun Valley. For those of us lucky enough to live nearby there are some great rides to do for an evening but there are also plenty of longer rides that can fill your day. The ridge ride is a nice ride that takes you from one end of the Preselis all the way to the other with views all the way to Snowdonia and even Ireland on the clearest days!
As a local, where would you recommend a visiting rider to go for an awesome day's ride?
If you want to ride the Preseli ridge it is best to start in the small village of Rosebush taking the bridleway past the old quarry, through Pantmaenog forest and out onto the hills. You can then follow another bridleway obviously marked on an OS map (OL35) east along the full length of the hills towards Crymych. Alternatively for a shorter ride you can turn off at the halfway point.
There will be amazing views North across Cardigan bay and up to Snowdonia and one of the spectacular rocky outcrops you pass by is where the stone for Stonehenge came from as I mentioned earlier. You can then take the small and quiet country lanes back to the start where you can have some food in the small village pub called Tafarn Sinc. This ride is a total of about 15 miles and is great for any rider with mid level fitness and experience.
If you have a mountain bike then you're probably wondering where to ride it next, maybe dreaming of Whistler bike park or other such adventurous locations. Unfortunately most of us have to make the most of riding in the UK, which is actually pretty great, and after reading this you'll hopefully think about visiting Dartmoor National Park.
There are a few reasons one would consider Dartmoor to be an exceptional place to ride mountain bikes*.
One, space and variety. An expanse opens up before you on Dartmoor, as far as you can see are hills, tors, rivers and forests all waiting to be explored. Bike down the side of any tor and there's a plethora of line choice; miles of unscathed single track, drops and natural rock gardens just wait to feel the bite of a tyre and the wind of your passing. There are trails on Dartmoor on par with many bike parks I've visited, and not only that but there is the freedom of mixing up paths and trails occurring so frequently that it's your own bike park to create. There's no chosen route for you, merely a destination, it fills you with a sense of freedom and excitement which I genuinely have not felt when riding anywhere else.
Freeride ain't dead. Here is a place where you can drop into gulley's, off tors, hit gaps created over thousands of years, there are even abandoned quarries if you're ballsy enough. My point is if you want to get radical you can, and easily. It's a playground for the brave and there's plenty of apparatus. The sheer brilliance of it is that how crazy you get is really down to how crazy you want to be, envision it and you can probably find it!
Downhill exists too, in the form of Gawton Gravity Hub. 5 tracks are on offer in this rock studded descent of the Tamar valley, flowing a path of adrenaline all the way to the bottom. Where from Thursday to Sunday the uplift service will whisk you back up to ride it all again. The team and tracks here are simply fantastic, care and love are put into this place all year round to change the tracks up and maintain them for everyone who rides them. A jump run co exists with the downhill tracks so there's really something for everyone here, be sure to visit it if you're in the area.
Yet another virtuous trait expressed by the open moorland is that one can ride for almost any length of time. I'm not saying you must embark on gargantuan epics across the moor, you could go for a 20 minute spin instead; or literally anything in between. Because there is such a density of paths it means you can customise your ride length to almost any degree, whilst finding specific trails is harder you're almost sure to come across single track, free ride and everything in between on any one tor. Wide open paths provide the perfect carpet to practice your wheelies, and rock drops can help test your suspension.
The final reason is that Dartmoor is simply a beautiful place to ride a bike. In the summer beautiful flowers erupt from the ground and explode out of the plants, creating a truly brilliant scene on the moorland. Autumn will bring a dull purple grey to the wilds of the national park, this brings a sombre mood and it'll start getting muddy up there. Whilst winter can bring snow, and it's great fun if it does, it will more readily bring lots of mud and can make some paths useless. Spring will start to dry out the trails for what will hopefully be a summer of shred. Views from the top of tors can have you looking at lakes or forests, or rolling hills tailing off into the distance ; the variety in the landscape is spectacular and makes riding on Dartmoor a really special occasion. You're riding on land that has survived thousands of years in a relatively unscathed way, most of Dartmoor was originally forest (the riding would be even better!), and you can feel the energy of the place motivating you to push your riding.
It's a truly special place for mountain biking and it simply cannot be praised highly enough, I hope this has you stoked to ride it!
For more information on the riding in Dartmoor then get in touch, we're more than happy to point you in the direction of some good trails, suggest a guide for the day or let you know about our up coming trips to this beautiful National Park!
This piece was written by local shredder Mick Turner McKinnel. If you fancy writing about your local spot then get in touch.
* Please only use approved routes for mountain biking.
All that's good about this spectacular mountain!
At the start of summer we headed over to Snowdon. So iconic it's got a national park named after it. Here's all that's epic about this monster and why it should be at the top of many mountain bikers must ride list!
1. THE TRAILS
The Rangers Track is up there with the most varied descent in the UK. The top starts with a series of huge stone steps, cross the train tracks and you're into warp speed, dodging rocks and flying down shaily shoots. Then your into the fast open grassland where you can weave and pop through the natural rollers of the mountain top. With no time to recover and just about time to slow down you fly into a steep rocky descent where speed is your friend...but the wrong line choice could see a nasty end to your days ride. After a few tight and technical switchbacks the mountain mellows out. You've thamed Snowdon and you're rewarded with some beautiful flowing singletrack with steep banks that you can hop and rip round. The Rangers Track is truly awesome. You can also ride Rhyd Ddu which is very gnarly and quite dangerous. The Telegraph valley that veers off Rangers is another great descent that's fast and flat out. Finally Ilandberis Path which is the easiest way up, however its wide and quite strait so unless you just want to brake your speed PB I'd stick with the other tracks for the descent. Each are different and super fun.
2. Its a true adventure you can do in an afternoon
The climb of Snowdon is hard enough without a bike. Throw in some gale force winds and a bit of sideways rain and you're in for a real mission. To me this just adds to the adventure, some parts you're going to need to hike a bike, especially if you go up Rangers Path. Be prepared, capable map reading, plenty of warm clothes, first aid and snacks. People are caught out on Snowdon each year and you don't want to be amongst those! On a good day you can go up in about 2-3hrs and down in about 30 minutes. But my advice would leave plenty of time though as the weather can change quickly. Plus you'll want time to absorb those beautiful views at the top!
3. The Epic views that are just so bloody epic
I've been up Snowdon when you can hardly see your feet let alone the views. It's a luck of the draw.. when the weather is bad you'll have less traffic on the trails..but you might get frozen to death. Luckily these pictures were taken on the worlds most perfect of days, thank you once again riding gods. You can see Ireland, Scotland, 24 counties of England, 29 lakes, 17 islands and the Isle of Man.................. Not bad eyy!
4. The SCale
It's rare in the UK to feel like your in the middle of no where. With mountains surrounding you.. unless you head over to Scotland. You sure feel humbled by Snowdon. At 1085m she's a beast! Going up Snowdon will get your adventure buds tingling and be sure to make you want to head out and ride some natural epics rather than a day at the bike park.
5. The Story
This is mountain biking in its rawest form. You'll meet some interesting people at the top of Snowdon, the varying terrain, the beautiful views and some seriously fun trails. Legend has it the giant Rhitta Gawr once ruled the land but killed by King Arthur he now lies under Snowdon. This place is truly special and the fact you can only ride it at certain time periods of the year makes it extra special each time you go! I can guaranty plenty of high fives and near miss stories to share over a well earned pint at the Cwellyn Arms.
Thanks to Veloccino, Will Priest and Will King for the pictures
We took a trip to the Shropshire hills and what a place with such a diverse and unique riding scene! A mix of tight, technical riding in Ludlow. Paired with the steep, loose and fast tracks in the Stiperstones. Here's what we found and why you should take the time to explore this area on two wheels!
Ludlow lies at the foot of the Shropshire Hills, a quaint and quiet market town. Its been said on a silent day you can hear the woops and yeeows of the rowdy forest that overlooks the town. The forest to the west of the town is home to a maze of technical, loamy and tight tracks that will keep you entertained all day long.
Parking at Vinnalls car park we took a right up Wigmore Rd, entering the forest on the left. The first track we rode was like a pumptrack that weaved through a network of tightly packed trees. Trees came up on me fast as I pumped and flew round loose and loamy corners. The recent weather had blown down a thick layer of needles that hid loads of slippery routes looking to wash out your front wheel at any moment!
Catch Ludlow on a good day and you'll be in loam paradise. This trip the recent rain had made some of the tracks as loose as a goose...but so fun! We scoured the local woodland, riding tonnes of steep and technical tracks. The tracks aren't the longest but the local builders use the elevation so well and the peddle up is really quick so you get so much riding time in. We cruised back into Ludlow for a famous hot sandwich at Vaughan's sandwich bar, followed by a coffee and potentially the worlds largest scone from The Olive Branch cafe. Onto the Stiperstones!
Refuelled we headed North into the Shropshire hills to the Stiperstones. Home to some scary ridge lines, epic views and geographical features. The Stiperstones were formed around 480 million years ago. Shattered local quartzite rock has created heaps of jaggered rocks that peak out of the hill tops. They look epic and have crazy names like The Devil's Chair.
Parking at The Stiperstones Inn we peddled up the road and onto apparently the second highest hill in England! The views were epic and we we're so happy to be up there on a clear day!
We flowed down single track that hugged the surrounding hills. It was super fun and flowy. The trails were all natural and had plenty of rollers and grass banks to sink and pump into. One false move though and you would be tumbling down the steep hillside so we had to keep on our toes!
On our final descent we rang The Stiperstones Inn and put in our food order '....we're just dropping in, see you in 10minutes'. The track to the pub was called 'In too Steep' on Trail Forks and it sure was steep! It felt like controlled falling more than riding your bike but boy was it good! Loose rocks would fly past me as I let loose down the track, snaking between banks and heather as I picked up speed and just held on for dear life! Just as I thought I had survived the trail finishes with a steep rocky shoot which chucks you out at the pub. We finished with a well deserved bangers and mash washed down with local ale.
There's tonnes of great riding around the Shropshire hills area, with a unique riding scene and quality trail builders. We just scraped the surface of the trail network here and I can't wait to head back. If you get the chance, head into The Trailhead Bike shop in Shrewsbury, an awesome shop who organise plenty of local rides!
United by a love for nature and inspired by the spirit of adventure, we collaborated with Carly Slade Yoga to put on a bike and yoga retreat in Exmoor National Park with the purpose of creating an adventure of both the physical world and the mind. The weekend was filled with outdoor yoga, guided meditations, mountain bike coaching, cycle rides through ancient oak forests, camp fires, nature immersed glamping, vegan food prepared for the guests all weekend long, dark sky walks, wild swimming and happy people.
Our adventurers arrived on Friday evening to get to know each other with the friendly assistance of vegan burritos and a camp fire. We filled one of the bell tents with colourful rugs and pillows to act as a socialising area and for candle lit dining. There was also homemade vegan flapjack, cheeky.
Saturday morning began at sunrise with Carly leading an outdoor yoga class, which I was ready for with my unicorn rainbow godzilla leggings. As the whole weekend was themed around releasing our mind and bodies from the chains of regulated society and freeing our inner wild animals, during our yoga class Carly asked us to pretend to be wild mustangs and dance as we wish which brought a lot of joy to the circle. Another highlight of the class was when Carly asked us to sit, eyes closed and picture what we would look like with no restraints from society, personally I was picturing Tarzan looking back at me. By the end of the class both my body and my mind were full of warm energy and I was ready for breakfast and to get out on the bikes.
We started with a coaching session around the camp site teaching essential bike skills to make sure everyone was feeling confident enough to have fun while feeling safe on the bike, playing games that encouraged bike balance and safe braking. We set off across the moors and enjoyed views down to the sea and across to Wales. We then took one of my favourite tracks called Granny's Ride descending down to Horner through ancient woodlands. One of the best things about the natural tracks in Exmoor are that they can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike. Half way down Carly taught us about the health benefits of forest bathing so we stopped off in a bed of ferns and bathed in a perfect patch of glorious sunshine, and climbed a tree!
After an impressively colourful lunch spread from Hugo, everyone set off down to explore some of the hidden wild swimming spots around Exmoor. I say hidden but it was about 2km up the river from Horner towards pool bridge, go and find it! You can slide down the smooth rock into the water but I warn you, she ain't heated!
So we warmed up with a very safe LED version of fire skipping while we waited for our candle lit dinner - a sweet potato, cashew, spinach and cocunut curry, complete with naan breads off the fire! It was such a nice vibe all weekend, everybody was so relaxed and open with each other that it felt like we'd all been friends for years, I almost forgot these were 'guests' and this was meant to be 'working'.
That evening Carly had a special treat planned for us called Yoga Nidra, which was my highlight of the weekend. Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping and is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. Carly also made a chocolatey raw cacao drink, a recipe used by ancient native American cultures such as the Maya in ceremonies which made me feel pretty relaxed. We lay in a circle, eyes closed around our candle lit bell tent with the smell of sage filling the air. While in this state of consciousness, Carly asked us very personal and meaningful questions and we were to write the answers into our journals. I was transformed to an instinctive mindset where I felt I could answer questions with no double thought needed. I identified what made me happy and what was holding me back from being the person I wanted to be and through all my different answers to this question, the answer was always that I was holding myself back. The session was completed with a fire ceremony where we chanted mantras and burnt the paper we'd written our personal obstacles on. It felt very liberating and from the emotional energy in the group I could see everybody had been really moved by the evenings experience. Thank you Carly. The evening finished with a dark sky walk to star gaze.
The next morning kicked off with an early start and some early morning yoga. Thankfully Carly had anticipated all the right muscles that would need stretching out after our first days ride, such as the hip flexors and lower backs. After breakfast Hugo led the morning's coaching session, this time focusing on cornering and body positions.
Hugo led a ride that flowed down along the river to the beautiful Horner and then out to the sea front where the group would end up at Porlock Weir where I had prepared lunch for them. They also got these fantastic pictures with TRAIL UNKNOWN written in the rocks, unfortunately they didn't spell 'unknown' right but i'll still give them a 10/10 for the love of it.
After lunch the hire bikes were collected and the group were driven back to the campsite, all except for one. A brave and determined young lady called Claire decided she was going to cycling back up the camp site and of course I would go with her. I think it was a little more uphill than she anticipated from sea level but she handled it like a trooper. Nearing the top, Claire shared with me some of her inner world difficulties. I shared with her some fitting words I'd learned from The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmund Tutu. I defined the difference between feelings and emotions and that by acting and sharing our feelings as we feel them with those around us, we stop ourselves bottling them where they build and store as deeper emotions. For the rest of the weekend I kept catching Claire openly sharing her feelings and it would make me smile. As if reflecting the shape of life itself, the ups and downs of the hills always bring out a person's true nature. Claire then descended the hardest track of the weekend and the amount of pride I had was overwhelming when we got to the bottom, followed by lots of hugs and whoops. Congrats Claire!
A huge thank you to Carly Slade for making the weekend so unique and meaningful, we will look forward to planning future bike and yoga weekends in 2018. If you can't wait till then, you can book us for a private rewilding retreat or mountain bike trip if you have a minimum of five people by contacting us.
With a new location and a new winter friendly style of accommodation in the Trail Unknown repertoire, our Dartmoor Adventure was another cracker! But before we get immersed into the home cooked farm food, cosy bunkhouse, rad trails, campfires and PUPPIES lets take a step back.
Why Dartmoor? Well this mystical national park is home to the highest point in the South of England and is spoilt with ancient towering tors, wild landscapes, one of the best night skies you'll see in England and an abundance of natural swooping tracks that take you on adventures across the stunning moors and past ancient sites.
For this trip we headed to Runnage Farm right in the heart of Dartmoor. We arrived on Friday to a huge rainbow that covered the entirity of Dartmoor, that's an omen for good weather right? The awesome bunkhouse had an old english stone cottage mixed with an alpine chalet vibe and most importantly had a fully kitted out kitchen for Chef Brad to work his magic in!
We met up with the group of riders on Friday evening and we swiftly cracked open a few Jail Ales from the local Dartmoor Brewery and set about getting tucked into some sausages from the farm with mash, peas and proper gravy! Our local guide Simon from Granite Trails ran us through the route and we finished the evening off under the stars around the fire.
We awoke early Saturday morning to blue skies and Chef Brad's singing. I'm not sure he's quite ready for the X-factor but along with the smell of bacon, pastries and coffee wafting up through the rafters of the bunkhouse it sure got everyone up with a smile.
When everyone was kitted up we headed into Soussons forest to warm the legs up. Our guest Matt had a mechanical 500m out of the farm, which is not what he wanted after travelling 6 hours the previous day to ride his bike. Luckily with a bit of brute force and good mechanic skills we got his bike back up and running and we headed up the near by tors to be treated by some flowing single track.
We navigated our way over to Hound Tor for lunch where we met Tom and Brad who had laid out a wonderful spread of sandwiches overflowing with home made chutney, lettuce, ham and chedder. Along with plenty of biscuits, fruit and energy bars washed down with some coffee and teas .
This trip we had a whole host of great characters, most notably Scout the trail dog who ran about 10 times the distance of everyone else. As we headed back to the campsite, Scout and Rupert got in between a cow and her calf who fully charged at us. It was a rather exciting moment!
The best descent of the day was the descent off Hamel Down which was about 4km of downhill and for at least 20 seconds we had wild ponies galloping in front of us - the sort of special moment you only encounter when riding natural tracks in wild places. Meanwhile, Chef Brad and Hugo went for a wild swim and then began putting together a feast for the crew before they arrived. On Saturday nights menu was a Chicken and prawn curry! We light a fire and chowed down on some marshmallows before heading to bed.
The farm where we were staying had just had a litter of puppies and ohhh the picture below pretty much sums it up but all i can say is another member of the Trail Unknown crew was very nearly purchased this weekend.
Sunday we were treated by another gorgeous day. Fuelled by another hearty breakfast we met a few new faces and headed out for our morning adventure taking in three of the local tors and enjoying some spicy downhills.
For lunch we returned to Puppy palace and tucked into another full bodied spread full of that local chutney that Brad and Hugo had sourced from the local farm shops...that consisted of an honesty box and an abundance of home made cakes, chutneys and jams...proper job!
The recent weather in Dartmoor meant there we're a few sections of bog to tackle. However, this just added to the adventure and made for some entertaining parts of the day. When we reached the downs the ups were soon forgotten as we flowed and descended down the swooping natural tracks of Dartmoor.
We finishing the ride off conquering Bellever Tor with a rocky descent and crossing the smiling man stone - which is older than Stone henge didn't you know... 'History Live'. To finish the day and the weekend we returned to the farm to the smell of fresh baked apple strudel, Tom's specialty.
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend an amazing memory. We rode some great trails and shared some awesome stories around the campfire. Until next time Dartmoor!
For our next trip we're heading back to Exmoor October 27th-29th - To find out more head to http://www.trailunknown.com/the-exmoor-adventure.html
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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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.