South West Mountain Biking guidebook - review

I must, at the outset, declare an interest in this book as my ugly mug features heavily in the photographic content. But, hell, don’t let that put you off because this is yet another excellent guide from the ever-burgeoning Vertebrate Publishing mountain bike guide collection.

Covering Exmoor, Dartmoor and the Quantocks, there’s enough riding in here to keep the visiting rider happy for many a summer.

Collated in the usual logical and well presented fashion that we’ve come to expect, the local knowledge of authors Nick Cotton and Tom Fenton is harnessed to the full. In the past I’ve been somewhat agnostic about the riding on Exmoor – too many wide, flat stony tracks, too little hair-raising downhill action.

This guide provides the antidote by highlighting the excellent riding that can be found in Exmoor. The route descriptions are honest and forewarned is forearmed – the hard work is always rewarded with a sweet singletrack section. Dartmoor by contrast was a new experience for me and what an experience.

There’s a real sense of wilderness about the place and several of the rides, particularly Grimspound and Hound Tor, are real adventures in a truly remote setting. The technicality around Hound Tor itself makes the ride worthwhile. The Quantocks are one of the unsung gems of British mountain biking, a small area criss-crossed by innumerable bridlepaths and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

There are only four rides featured in this edition but that will simply encourage you to explore. Better still is the Quantock’s extra riding section which gives a fine basis for further exploits particularly in Great Wood which will appeal particularly to those who like there mountain biking gravity driven.

In practical terms, if you’ve used a Vertebrate Publishing guide before then you know the drill. Excellent route summaries, crystal clear Ordnance Survey maps, directions that are detailed without being fussy and include a wealth of local detail to encourage you to look beyond your front wheel. Add to that the altitude profile, refreshment stops, parking and other crucial info and it is the complete package.

Verdict

Authoritative, illustrated with typically brilliant photography and covering some of the best kept secrets in British mountain biking – what more could you ask.

The South West Mountain Biking guide costs £15.95 from all good bookshops. More info at www.v-publishing.co.uk

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