Tag Archives: cheddar gorge

You’d be Crackers to miss this!

Graham Burgess will lead us around Cheddar Gorge (Cheese and Crackers – geddit?) and the Mendip Hills, following a route used several times before on Club outings, most recently in March this year.

The route is only around 21 miles, but don’t be fooled into thinking it will be a breeze! The climbs are sharp and some of the descents are loose, rocky and a bit exciting, especially if it’s wet on the day (sense of humour strongly advised). There is always the option of walking a few bits if you don’t fancy your chances.

The route starts from the Swan Inn, Rowberrow and quickly heads off-road into a bit of a woodland climb followed by a long, fast rocky descent all the way down into Cheddar where we can stop for a quick cuppa (last chance saloon until end of ride).

Then it’s off up the Gorge road climb – which is steady but long – and onto the top of the gorge then all the way back down again on another fast, rocky, rooty little number. This might not come as a surprise, but… it’s then another big climb back up onto the moors (expect to see wild ponies) for some more fun before the last descent back down again towards Rowberrow.

The pub at the start/finish serves excellent food for post ride refreshments – highly recommend is the Ploughman’s Lunch.

Whilst not really a novice ride due to the climbs and technical descents, the ride is open to anyone who feels like a challenge; no-one will be left behind and we can have plenty of stops as needed.

Be there and ready to ride for a 10.00am departure. Bring food and drink, appropriate clothing for a day’s ride (it can be exposed up on top of the hills) and spares.

Say Cheeeeeese – It’s Cheddar Time!

 

Graham Burgess will lead us around Cheddar Gorge and the Mendip Hills following a route used several times before on club outings.

The route is only around 21 miles, but don’t be fooled into thinking it will be a breeze…! The climbs are sharp and some of the descents are loose, rocky and a bit testing, especially if it’s wet on the day (sense of humour strongly advised).

The route starts from the Swan Inn, Rowberrow and quickly heads off-road into a bit of a woodland climb followed by a long, fast rocky descent all the way down into Cheddar where we can stop for a quick cuppa (last chance saloon until end of ride).

Then it’s off up the Gorge road climb – which is steady but long – and onto the top of the gorge then all the way back down again on another fast, rocky, rooty little number. This might not come as a surprise, but… it’s then another big climb back up onto the moors (expect to see wild ponies) for some more fun before the last descent back down again towards Rowberrow.

The pub at start/finish serves excellent food for post ride refreshments.

Whilst not really a novice ride due to climbs and technical descents, the ride is open to anyone who feels like a challenge; no-one will be left behind and we can have plenty of stops as needed.

Be there and ready to ride by 10.30. Bring food and drink, appropriate clothing for a day’s ride (it can be exposed up on top of the hills) and spares.

(Image credit: www.visitbristol.co.uk)

 

Ride Report: Cheddar Gorge Ride

The forecast was for rain, and a fair bit of it. A fat band of rain was to sweep across at some point in the afternoon. It was a case of being prepared to get wet, but just how wet we’d get, we didn’t know at this point.

The day’s gaggle of bikers consisted of eleven fine looking gentlemen (no women today, I’m afraid) on a variety of steeds.

The Swan Inn at Rowberrow had kindly let us use their car park for the day’s ride. It’s a fine old pub that serves great food, real ales and proper cider. The icing on the cake is the fact that you are only a few pedal strokes from the start of some trails. Can’t complain about that.

Setting off on time (or thereabouts) we were straight into the first off-road descent, a piece of singletrack that took us down to Rowberrow Warren. The wet slippery rocks provided an early test of concentration.

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Safely at the bottom, we then had to ride alongside a bubbling stream, skirting the edge of the warren. We climbed up the side of the hill, slowly at first, but then testing the legs the higher we went. Blood suitably pumping, a short recovery spin along some tarmac took us to the quarry north of Cheddar. A straight run down a rocky track alongside the quarry was a good way for the crazy gang to press on and do a bit of stone skipping on the way down. Mike Duller unfortunately picking up the first puncture of the day.

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Now on the edge of Cheddar, and with Mike suitably re-inflated, it was a short ride down a few streets to the bottom of the Gorge road. It would be a shame to come all this way and not ride up the road through the Gorge itself. So up we went. It’s a gradual incline with some steep bits around some of the switchbacks, but if you take in enough of the scenery you seem to get up there in no time.

Dippy had snapped his rear mech cable coming down the side of the quarry and was trying to singlespeed it up the hill. Finding it hard going, he and chief mechanic Rich Rowe managed to bodge it so he now had 3 gears instead of 1, making it far easier on the legs. Fair play to them.

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By now, big blobs of rain were falling from the sky as we started the hike-a-bike up to the Gorge top walk – It’s a bridleway, don’t panic, people! Getting to the top just as the rain was easing off, we were greeted with some pretty good views. From here we had a mile or so of going down, skirting the edge of the Gorge to start with then heading inland a little, all the way to Cheddar village.

We started off slowly, pootling along, taking in the scenery before deciding the best way would be to give each other some space and meet up near the bottom at the look out tower.

The ride along the top is a good’un: glorious views of the far side of the Gorge, a gradient that means you don’t have to pedal much and the added bonus of riding amongst goats, if that’s your thing. With rocky outcrops, wet grass and exposed edges not far away, you had to keep you speed in check. Everyone came down smiling (I think they were smiling) having enjoyed it for different reasons.

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We soon picked up the West Mendip Way heading out and around the Gorge, eventually bringing us to the edge of Blackdown Hill. Here we passed runners doing the Butcombe Trail Ultra Marathon, looking suitably tired. With the heavens opening up again – this time using their full arsenal of rain – we skirted around, down and then finally back up to the trig point. Soaked through, we headed back into Rowberrow Warren for a quick blip down a man made trail before our final descent down a rock gully.

Poor Mike picked up the second puncture of the day and decided to jog the last mile or so back to the pub.

Bikes quickly stuffed on racks and kit thrown in cars, it was straight into the pub for isotonic beverages and food. Job done.

Probably the wettest ride in a very long time, but still a great day out on the bike filled with giggles. Thanks all for ignoring the forecast and joining me for our Mendip jolly. See you all on a ride soon!

Link to Mike Duller’s Youtube video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iE2m3ZPYzOg&feature=youtu.be

Ride Report: The Making of the Mendips

Words by Phil Allum     Photos by Paul Allum

Way back in May 2012, MB Swindon did a great ride in the Mendip Hills led by Tom Stickland with some local knowledge coming from a chap called Antony, a member of the Bristol Trails Group. I remember the ride well; a good route with lots of rocky bits, a bone shaking descent down by a quarry and great views from the top of a hill. Proper mountain biking.

I decided that I would try and recreate it.

The first port of call was to the MB Swindon website to re-read the ride report from that particular ride to try and gain a few nuggets of information: start point, ride length, names of features, hills etc. These basics would form the foundations of the ride.

Now having the start point, it was time to start joining the dots together on a map, to try and build the loop. This bit was quite easy, due to the fact I could visualise myself on the map, climbing and descending the contour lines as if I was there. But then I started to notice things: An alternative bridleway, contour lines closer together, bridleways that miss out some tarmac. The original loop only lasted a few minutes before being modified.

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A bit of research revealed some great view points from the Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top Walk and a few more mouse clicks revealed that it is indeed very pleasing on two wheels (it may be called a walk, but it’s actually a bridleway) so that was included as well. This also meant that we could ride up the Gorge road from Cheddar to get to the cliff top walk, something I hadn’t done before.

So that was the route sorted, subject to it actually being rideable. A few emails later and the start point was confirmed: Simon from the Swan at Rowberrow was more than happy for us to use the pub’s car park. The Swan is in the perfect location to start a ride, nestled at the bottom of Rowberrow Warren, with trails littering the hillside.

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Next was to pick a date. Now remember this was all the way back in the depths of February, so there wasn’t much on the calendar at this point. Sunday 19th July. Why? I’ve no idea; it just seemed as good a date as any.

I then scribbled down a bit of a description and gave it to our web pixies, who kindly put it up on the MB Swindon website events list. The ride was official!

Then the fun really started: recce rides! It is all well and good having a route on a map, but does it translate well on the ground? Is it even rideable? Without actually getting down there and riding it you just don’t know.

As it turns out, the route was a goer, just requiring a bit of hike-a-bike in the middle. All good rides involve carrying your bike at some point right? We (that being my apprentice & I) even found a short section of man-made trail that somebody had built on the side of the Warren. Amazingly, the official ride was going follow the intended route. This rarely happens as normally somewhere is impassable, or a better alternative is found. But this whole route one was a good’un, so we decided to leave it as it was.

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So with a finalised route and an approaching date, all that was left was a bit of last minute promoting and a few evenings doing the sun dance to the weather gods. As it was, they mocked me all week by threatening wet weather before finally taking pity on my feeble attempt at dancing and ordering the sun out at the last minute.

Sunday 19th July soon came and eleven fellow riders who had been lured by the promise of great riding (or was it the great pub?) met up on a sunny morning outside the Swan for the MB Swindon Mendip ride. How did it go? We had a blast. Proper mountain biking with a great bunch of people. The photos below capture the day quite well, with the stats looking a bit like this:

19.6 miles

2965ft climbing

4 punctures, 1 ripped tyre

1 good sit down by Rich Ford

250,000 stings from nettles

12 happy riders.

If you missed this one, then make sure you bookmark www.mbswindon.co.uk/events so you don’t miss any more!