Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

21km may not seem far for a medium route, but before you consider slipping this one into a spare hour on a Saturday morning, take a look at the amount of climbing involved, which makes it a lot more difficult than you’d initially think. The real problem is starting at sea level, but at least the first major up is on tarmac, so you can get around 200 metres of altitude beneath your belt before things start to turn more sinister.
The reward for that first climb is some wonderful views over the coast, and these will also keep your mind off the aching legs as you continue to push upwards on both dirt and grass on the way out to County Gate. The descent into the Oare Valley will restore anyone’s faith in the sport, with some great singletrack and a couple of well-exposed sections. And it finishes near a great café, if you’re feeling peckish. Then it’s a gentle road cruise up the valley, and a firm-surfaced pull all the way back up to the A39 — the views, once again, are superb.
You’re now just 5km from the finish, and 400m above it. Work it out! But it’s probably best to ignore the pub. The initial drop down Smalla Combe is fast and furious, and the forest track ascent up from the road seems to go a little against the grain. But then it’s sweet, sweet singletrack down through woods, with some excellent twists and turns and plenty of roots to trip you as you go. The switchback at the start of the final section’s a real balancing act, and after that, the technicalities ease and it’s an excellent blast all the way back down to sea level.