Bike exploring: Help for Heroes
OS GetOutside Champion, Helen Pollard, takes us on a great Mountain Bike (MTB) route used as part of the delivery of MTB leadership training to Phoenix House staff in collaboration with Cycling UK.
This beautiful 2 hour mountain bike ride follows the river Teign and takes you up through the oak filled Gorge underneath the National Trust’s Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England.
The ride has two fantastic pub options and can be enjoyed by both beginners and advanced level riders alike. Parking is available at Fingle Bridge Inn or The Drewe Arms in Drewsteignton.
Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium
Time taken: 2-3 hours
Start point: SX 743 899
Starting from the Fingle Bridge Inn, that is possibly the most quintessentially quaint English pub that ever existed, cross the bridge over the River Teign. As you do, take a moment to acclimatise yourself. Take a deep breath, look and listen.
These are some of the deepest valleys on Dartmoor with a river that runs wild through the winter and in the summer is thick with colour and wildlife.
On the map attached below start at point 5, Fingle Bridge Inn.
The Salmon Pools are point 9. Castle Drogo is the highest point of the ride.
Point 3 is where the track begins to descend back to Fingle Bridge Inn.
Ride the bridleway upstream heading West. The track will undulate along the river at the bottom of the valley for approx. 5km.
Cross the river when you see the small hydropower station next to the famous wild swimming spot called the Salmon Pools. The Salmon Pools are a series of man-made rock pools to enable the salmon to swim up and are really fun to slide yourself down into from pool to pool.
The pools are definitely not heated so it’s best to ride first, swim later.
Follow the track up towards Castle Drogo as it snakes its way up the valley. As the track steadily climbs you’ll have incredible views into the Gorge and of the high Moors in the distance, perfect for photos.
From here you can easily detour to visit the fantastic Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England. Otherwise, continue along the path and it will begin to descend.
For beginners this will be the most challenging part of the ride so remember you can always get off your bike and walk if you feel uncomfortable, or get in touch if you would like some mountain bike coaching with me on trailunknown.com.
As the track begins will reach a fork, the right option is a fantastic descent back down to the Fingle Bridge Inn.
The left option is a more gentle descent that if followed all the way takes you to Drewsteignton, but you can also take a right as you reach the bottom of the valley to return to Fingle Bridge Inn.
For those with energy in the tank, keep on looping, there is plenty of track variety in the Gorge and ancient castle forts on top of the surrounding hills to be explored.
Tom is a fanatic in the art of mountain bike trail hunting and runs mountain bike adventure company, Trail Unknown with Hugo van Dorssen.
They travel the UK in search of the most fun and beautiful riding locations, meeting with local guides and test out unique places to stay and eat. The guys then bring this all together in a bundle of mountain biking magic in the form of guided days and tours to our favourite spots that make for totally unique and totally British mountain bike adventures. Check them out as they can also provide mountain bike coaching, outdoor education and adventurous events to adventurous folks of all kinds.