LS08 / Exmoor

142km Exmoor National Park

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What did the dog do in the night? The dog did nothing in the night.

Folk lore would have it that Porlock Hill is so steep that, in the 50’s and 60’s, cars, needing a low, low gear, would have to reverse up it. Following part of the Exmoor Beast route (, the ride avoids the harder of the steep climbs in the area, but this in no way diminishes the quality and challenge of the ride.

Rather than breaking the adventurer on the back of tarmac walls, this route tests the endurance over remote and stunning scenery, traversing the National Park, dropping rapidly down to the coast at Lynmouth and returning, without pause, to the top of the moor and into the shelter of Simonsbath. Ridge Road rewards with a view across Southern Devon and Somerset on the return.

The ride starts in Bampton, under the Southern edge of the moor, and rises rapidly to join the most southerly point of the Beast route. A good sportive lives and dies on the quality of the route, and the Beast is clearly in the prime of life, searching out the most beautiful climbs and some of the most exciting descents.

To over detail the route does not favour the freshness of its practical unfolding, but a taster of what’s to come is always alluring… dropping off the top and down to Minehead, the descent lures the rider with a fast top section, into tightening corners and narrow runs down into the village and then swooping down the main road towards the coast.

The hospitality of the moor is to some extent seasonal, so beware that not all places of refreshment will be open for business if you chance this ride in the more fresh of seasonal conditions. Lynmouth offers tourist tat and coffee shops a plenty, and, if you favour the feeling of riding with a sock full of sand in your belly, then the chip shop on the sea front is a good choice, although if you manage to keep it down until you get to Watersmeet then more power to you. Pubs and teashops abound around the edges of the moor.

The dog was extremely tired having ridden the Exmoor Beast loop…