Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

Central Exmoor is defined by two main watersheds: the Barle and the Exe; and the moorland that drains into them is crossed by a labyrinth of trails that provide some great mtb’ing — very different in nature to the more popular coastal tracks. This is a definite epic: a grinding 50k’er that showcases a little of everything the area has to offer — good and bad.
It starts with a steep road pull out of Winsford — a baptism of fire for stiff leg muscles — but it rewards handsomely with a steep and rough rubble-run down to the Barle. The cruise to Tarr Steps is one of the highlights of the ride; an easy-going freewheel along the water’s edge. But be warned: it gets very busy in the summer and is best left alone altogether at peak times. Then it’s up again; a mixture of shady bridleway and open farmland, with a bonus stretch of singletrack where you’d least expect it.
There’s an off-road option down to Withypool, but it’s an unrewarding 2km to get to it, and it features again later in the ride anyway. The village provides the crossover point, then it’s back up again; this time on a short section of the Two Moors Way.
There is a bridge across the Barle — look upstream a little — but it won’t help you with the climb to Horsen Farm. Then it’s south, and tough going, to Withypool Cross. If you don’t like
farmland, head west on the road and loop around the head of the valley on tarmac — it’ll save you time and effort, especially in the wet.
Back off-road again now, with a roller-coaster that ups the ante as it approaches Withypool, take two. You’ve earned the R&R here this time round, but it’s a big climb out again, so not too much to eat. The descent into Exford is the best of the ride, with some wicked stony steps. Then it’s up and down one last time, as you hurdle the flanks of Staddon Hill, and roll easily back down the Exe Valley.