Letter from Exmoor: ……..the path I walk’s in the wrong direction……..

Text and photos by Gary Scarlett

(first published Saturday, 21 December 2013, on his blog “Chunky Mamil“)

Went out on the road bike last week, the weather forecast was a bit dodgy but I wanted to get up the Toll road one last time before the year was out. You can break up the ride up into two really, the first half just past the toll house is nice and sheltered in the trees and I did my best time of the year. The second half is more exposed and if the wind is in the wrong direction it’s hard going, and it was. Once up and after catching my breath I went straight back down, battling across the moors in the wind didn’t appeal. Did a loop around some lanes and a sprint down the seafront, the wind in my favour this time.

This week I’ve been mainly mountain biking, wet,windy and freezing cold on the road bike didn’t appeal so I rode up some hills on the big green bike for a couple of days. Quite pleased with how I’ve progressed this year with my fitness. Eighteen mile mtb rides used to be a major expedition and take most of the day but now I just want to keep riding, what used to be two separate rides I’m now doing as one.

On Thursday I did a loop which took in some hard climbs, even trickier when its wet, muddy and still mulchy out on the trail. It’s a balancing act going up hill on the mtb, trying to keep your weight distributed, fighting to keep the front end down whilst the back wheel is slipping did get a bit annoying and led to some expletives. Whacked my shin slipping off, it smarted, didn’t cry though.

Lucky with the weather again though but it was cold on top of the hill before heading back to home. A herd of Exmoor ponies came and said hello though which was nice., went like this.
On Friday I went in the opposite direction but just went where the mood took me. I did consider keeping low and riding some lower paths but that doesn’t make sense so headed up then down Dunster Path to the red mud. Went this way to see how I fared on the fireroad slog up after riding yesterday, not my quickest but did it, nearly 6000ft of climbing in 36 miles, is that classed as hill repeats?

Letter from Exmoor: …….. can you hear the silence? ……………

By Gary Scarlett. First published on his Blog “Chunky Mamil” on 5 December 2013

I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit lately and riding my mtb so I thought I’d put both of those straight today. I have been riding though and meeting interesting people so although the keys have been idle I haven’t. With my rest days falling during the week and a last minute window in my good friend Jennifer’s schedule, I grabbed the opportunity to visit her and ride some of that flat stuff last Wednesday. Nice riding around the levels a real haven for birds, swans, herons, starlings the odd magpie and even a partridge but no pear tree 🙂 We rode some of those long straight roads they like around there but thankfully with little wind, stopped for coffee, chatted and even found a hill to ride up on the way back.Yesterday started a bit damp but I had to get out so did a quick loop on the road bike, it wasn’t too bad and was glad I got out. Still lots of colour about but as a friend of mine commented about this photo, winters coming over the hill 🙂

In the afternoon I was invited to lunch by the lovely Elke who promotes all things good on Exmoor through her Exmoor4all website. She had organised a Christmas lunch for some Exmoor business folk and kindly invited me along too as I always try to show how wonderful it is around here through the blog. The location was The Culbone, a pleasure to get to as it means driving up and along Porlock hill with great views to enjoy on the way. The food was excellent and so was the company, nice to meet people I sort of knew through twitter and some new people too.

So to today, very windy so definite mtb day, getting blown across the road on the road bike didn’t appeal at all. The usual slog up to Hopcott but sheltered and the trails were dry after this cold snap and rapid progress to the top of Grabbist hill with the wind behind me. Although it was dry the tracks are covered in leaves and hide roots, rocks and toxic dog leftovers, luckily just the odd stone whacked me in the shin today.

I went for a loop around the Crown estate woodland on the other side of Dunster, hard going in the wind on the exposed climb up and around Black Hill to the trig point. The descent was very quick but a bit boring on the fireroads but once nearer Dunster I rode some more interesting tracks before heading back up Grabbist Hill.

After negotiating the ascent of Grabbist I headed back up the ridge and down some of my favourite tracks back towards home, felt good, rode up stuff, not a bad ride at all.

Things to do: Exmoor Adventures

Outdoor activities across Exmoor for holiday makers, locals, stags, hens and busy business people!

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Exmoor Adventures are based in Porlock, West Somerset, and have been operating since 2008, and are constantly expanding!

Founded by Dan French, his passion is to deliver a range of quality, enjoyable and unforgettable experiences to a wide range of participants.

When you contact Exmoor Adventures, it’s Dan that you’ll talk to, it’s Dan who will discuss your booking to make sure that you are getting what you want and it’s Dan who (95% of the time!) will deliver your activities along with his team of instructors.

With over 10 years experience in the Outdoor Industry, Dan has a range of National Governing Bodies as well as a Degree in ‘Outdoor Studies’.

Dan has worked in a number of Activity Centres in the UK ranging from Cornwall and the Lake District through to the western Isles of Scotland. The job has also taken Dan to the United Arab Emirates and Spain, where adventurous activities have been delivered to a wide range of clients.

There’s nothing better than guiding people along the Exmoor coastline, down a grade II river or mountain biking over the moorlands. It’s great to see the reaction of individuals, escpecially when they are made aware of what Exmoor offers in terms of stunning scenery, wildlife and adventure!”

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We specialise in group activities for families, stag/hen, birthdays, military and other groups.

Activities start from as little as £25 pp for a half day (3 hour) and from £40 pp for a full day of activities. Activities can be ‘mixed and matched’ to suit your groups requirements.

Multi Activity Weekend Breaks

Whether a stag or hen party or a group of friends or family wanting an adventurous activity weekend, we can cater for all groups.

A multi activity weekend, including three activities can cost as little as £95 pp.

We can even help you with group accommodation on Exmoor, making the planning process as easy as possible.

 Personal Skills Coaching

Exmoor Adventures Instructors are qualified in a range of different activities from rock climbing and kayaking, through to navigation and mountain biking.

1:1 or small group coaching is available in all activities for those who want specific coaching on skills and techniques. 1:1 coaching starts from £80.

 Corporate Events

With a range of different activities on offer including specific team building and problem solving tasks, we can tailor make an activity day to suit your needs. From 4 to 100 participants, we can structure a day which could help benefit your company for years.

Website:           www.exmooradventures.co.uk

Email:              info@exmooradventures.co.uk

Twitter:           @ExmoorAdventure

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Telephone:    01643 863536

Mobile:          07976 208279