MY SPE­CIAL RIDE

Go on a rid­ing gas­tro tour of Ex­moor p36

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

If food is high on your list of a great ride’s in­gre­di­ents – along with corners and eye-pop­ping scenery – then you could do worse than the north Devon­shire coast­line, and a qual­ity gas­tro-tour.

The ride loops along the A39 from Mine­head west to Lyn­mouth, then via Si­mons­bath and Whed­don Cross, back to Dun­ster. The map says 55 miles and around two hours. To eat... I mean ride... your way round it prop­erly should take twice that.

Out of Mine­head on the A39; 40mph gives way early to 60mph as the road widens, but go steady – the triple lane is dan­ger­ous, and the way soon nar­rows again to high hedgerows and hid­den junc­tions: last thing you want this early is to get creamed at a T-junc­tion. Although, as the road drops and twists like crooked el­bow into Por­lock, maybe a cream tea isn’t such a bad idea (we’re still in Som­er­set, so jam or cream first; doesn’t mat­ter). The An­chor in Por­lock Weir does cream teas and a roar­ing fire, in a won­der­fully bizarre din­ing room.

Then hoof it in first gear up the crazy one-in-four hair­pins of Por­lock Hill – novices be­ware, it’s prop­erly steep, ris­ing 1300ft in two miles – and onto the heathered top of Ex­moor and its high, broad view out over the Bris­tol Chan­nel to south Wales and be­yond on one side, and across a great ex­panse of tus­socky hill­sides and moor­land to the other. In the sum­mer an ice cream van sits in a layby at the top if you are in the mar­ket for more calorific good­ness.

The A39 clam­bers over the hills, wind­ing around corners cut­ting and jut­ting into the moor-sides, past an AA box, over a cat­tle grid, then dives through a beech tun­nel past The Cul­bone restau­rant (a must-eat).

The tar­mac rises again, moors slowly shape-shift­ing into open fields; watch out for ran­dom sheep and lowfly­ing game birds.

Past the biker-friendly Blue Ball Inn on Coun­tis­bury Hill, then a ver­tig­i­nous drop down the hill­side in front of Lyn­mouth’s pretty, white-faced ho­tels and houses perched on a dense, tree- filled notch where the moor meets the sea. Turn left over the river, and fol­low the A39/B3223, sign­posted Si­mons­bath.

Clear of the town, the nar­rowed road kinks back and forth, climb­ing with a rock face on the right and a low wall and steep drop on the left – it’s one ve­hi­cle-wide, so take care. At the top take the B3223 to the left, un­der more trees, a cou­ple of nice hair­pins, then back onto a pur­ple and brown moorscape again. Look for the lone, wind-blasted tree just af­ter the cat­tle grid – good for arty pho­tos.

Af­ter Si­mons­bath stay on the B3223, then straight onto the B3224 into Whel­don Cross. The road is smooth, rolling and tum­bling through low hills and trees. At Whel­don Cross fol­low the sign for Dun­ster on the A396, an­other lazy, ris­ing and fall­ing through fern forests into the vil­lage of Dun­ster – where, you guessed it, a spot of tea awaits. With a scone and jam.

‘The An­chor in Por­lock Weir does cream teas and a roar­ing fire’

Green­ery on one side, the drop to the sea on the other and a cream tea stop soon

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