May and June are the perfect months for a gravel or bikepacking adventure. In this blog ‘Bikepacking Scotland’ and ‘Great British Gravel Rides’ author Markus Stitz picks five inspiring routes dotted around England and Wales to inspire your adventures! Each route has been mapped, just click on the route title to open.
This is a shorter version of the classic Dorset Gravel Dash route. The Dorset Gravel Dash is a two-day bikepacking event or a long one-day challenge, held annually on the last bank holiday weekend in May. The two-day bikepacking event has been one of the first gravel events in Britain, and is held annually on the last bank holiday weekend in May, with sunshine pretty much guaranteed. If you want to ride fast and far, a one-day gravel grinder on the same weekend is your best choice! If you pick a clear day and have a bit of imagination you can almost see the coast of France; most definitely your phone will pick up French signal when stopping at the famous Square and Compass in Worth Matravers for a pint. The pub hosts a fossil museum, and nearby are the Spyway Dinosaur Footprints, 140 million years old! The route, which is featured in Great British Gravel Rides, is a great day ride for those who don’t just want to smash the miles on the bike, but also stop frequently, and most of the highlights from the longer event route are included in this shorter version.
The Jurassic gravel route, as described in the book, starts and finishes at the Shell Bay ferry terminal, so you can take the train to Poole and ride from there to the start, but most recently the Swanage Railway announced it is operating a trial heritage diesel train service from the main line at Wareham into the heart of the Isle of Purbeck, stopping at both Corfe Castle and Swanage, and the trains take a few bikes. Both Corfe Castle, with its famous castle ruin, and Swanage make great alternative starting options, and the Red Lion pub in Swanage has no-thrills affordable accommodation.
Named after a Welsh mountain and a Welsh bike frame builder that uses ash wood as material for some of the finest gravel bikes you can find in Britain, this is a loop for a long day in the saddle in the incredibly lush surroundings of Powys.
This is another ride which is included in Great British Gravel Rides. This 47-mile route starts and finishes in Hay-On-Wye, world famous for its large number of second-hand and antiquarian bookshops. The route itself features everything from wide open hilltops with stunning views to narrow lanes, and while not in abundance, there are a few pubs dotted along the route for refreshments.
This is a route which was originally planned for another event in the successful Dirt Dashes series. Sadly, the pandemic and a few other factors brought an end to the event idea. This route will provide a challenging two-day ride in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, including a section of the GB Divide route as well.
Starting and finishing at the Tafarn y Bont pub in Govilon, the nearest public transport option is Abergavenny. The first part of the route is a good warm up for what is to come, a lot of climbing, once you leave the quiet cycling along the canal behind you.
The highlight of the route is undoubtedly the ‘Gap’ between Fan Y Big and Cribyn. You might be pushing your bike up to the second highest point of the route, but both the views from the top and the descent to the Pentwyn Reservoir are great rewards for the effort. Talybont-on-Usk is a great overnight stop. The rest of the route includes three more major climbs, but the views from the tops on a good day will stay in your memory for years to come!
Created by Katherine Moore, the East Devon Trail is one the most varied gravel bikepacking routes you can find. And while you might get wet riding it, it is one of the few routes I have cycled that are stunning in bad weather as well. And as most routes featured in this blog, you can get to start and finish easily by train, at Exeter St Davids. If you want to make this route part of a bigger bikepacking adventure, you can connect the route in Lyme Regis with the Wessex Ridgeway and the Old Chalk Way.
A shorter version of the route is featured in Great British Gravel Rides, but the full 115-mile route is a perfect 2 – 3 day adventure. This is a route not just for cycling, there are plenty of fabulous places who serve locally produced food and drink along the route. And no East Devon Trail ride is complete without a Devonshire Cream Tea. Just remember – cream first!
The last route in this small collection is a rugged gravel ride away from the busy places. Experience the beauty of the Lake District with challenging climbs and beautiful descents, including a section on the Old Coach Road, which crosses the flanks of Clough Head and Matterdale Common at the northern end of the Helvellyn range. This old track is not only part of NCN71, but also the Lakeland 200, a mountain bike bikepacking route devised by Alan Goldsmith.
This 26-mile route was mapped by the fastest woman in the 2021 GBDURO, Jaimi Wilson, who also spent about three years cycling around the world. As you’d expect, Jaimi’s route offers a real gravel riding challenge to those up for it. There are a number of technical up- and downhill sections in here, but always paired with those amazing views, that make you forget the Type-2-Fun. Throw in some fantastic stops for coffee, this route is almost as memorable as a round the world trip.
If you are thinking of taking on some of these routes, it’s worth checking to see if you have the correct level of insurance in place. Pedalcover offer a combined home and bicycle policy, travel insurance and also bicycle only insurance policies to cover gravel riding and cycle touring. If you need any help, just give our friendly support staff a call on 0800 121 4424