This little loop provides an excellent introduction to Dartmoor mtb’ing. Access is incredibly simple — the ride starts close to the region’s main trunk road, the A38, and although it climbs to nearly 400m at its highest point, it shies away from the wilder side of the moor, making it perfect for less experienced riders and map readers too.
The going is excellent throughout, with some testing but totally rideable climbs, some superb typical moorland doubletrack, and a few sections of excellent singletrack, not really what you’d expect in these parts. The scenery is awesome, especially the stretch above the Avon Dam Reservoir, which is an ideal spot to make a start on your sandwiches.
It’s basically a ride of two halves: the first climbing from the streets of South Brent to the wide open spaces of Gripper’s Hill, and the second reversing the process, via a short detour east, almost as far as the neighbouring village of Buckfastleigh. Highlights of the opening leg are some steep tarmac out of the village, some excellent hedged track on the way up to Shipley Bridge and a short, sweet section of semi-technical singletrack cutting high above the reservoir.
The second half is punctuated by a rough drop from the high point to a tricky water-splash at Water Oak Corner, and some wonderful, easy-to-follow singletrack that sweeps its way across the lower slopes of Lambs Down — the bottom of which is awash with roots of all shapes and sizes, and there’s a gate to stop for too! Typically, the toughest climb follows the best descent — it’s do-able, but only just — and after that, it’s downhill all the way back to South Brent; a mix of grass, dirt and plenty of fast-rolling asphalt too.