Dartmoor Mountain Biking

Dartmoor, Devon, 9th January 2016                                                                           By Belinda Dixon

Bike hire from Fox Tor Cafe

When they issue a yellow warning for rain, and also forecast strong winds, mist and hail, it might not seem like the best weather to embark on an adventure. But we (me and Nicola Hendy) had the time, the enthusiasm, and the bike-hire booking, so headed for Princetown on Dartmoor anyway.

After sustenance and bike hire (£10 per-half day) at the legendary Fox Tor Cafe, our challenge was to cycle part of the former Princetown Railway – a track that in its 10km version skirts South Hessary Tor, water-filled Foggintor Quarry and King’s Tor before heading home. A 30km route goes onto Burrator reservoir before looping back to Princetown.

See the Dartmoor National Park‘s leaflet on the trail here.

Video by Nicola Hendy

It’s a cracking route – a steady, but gradual climb into a remarkable, russet landscape where just venturing 100 yards from the road means you feel like you’re entering another world. Where rain may be cascading down inside your jacket, and water might swill around inside your boots, but the elements and the landscape ensure you know you’re alive.

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By now that rain had turned the track-side watercourses into streams, and the hail was thundering, pea-sized into our gloved hands. Extraordinary conditions; an extraordinary cycling environment; an extraordinary place.


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A very welcome Fox Tor Cafe fire

So what did we learn? That the Fox Tor Cafe does cheap, and very good-quality mountain bike hire (and has great log burners); that Dartmoor weather laughs at the notion of waterproofs; and that sometimes adventures happen despite – even because of – the rain …


Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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