Walking and mountain biking haven’t, historically, always been the most comfortable of bedfellows, but there’s really no good reason for that being so. Full marks, then, to the powers that be in North Devon, who’ll be running the largest ever North Devon and Exmoor Walking and Cycling Festival from 3-11 May 2007. The Festival includes 62 guided walks and rides, plus there’ll be a family fun Celebration Day and Cycling Circus on Monday 7 May (the Bank Holiday) in Barnstaple.
Happily for those of us of an off-road persuasion, the cycling programme of this year’s festival is focused on MTB rides. There are 11 guided rides during the festival (plus a sizable choice of self-guided routes), and there should be something to suit all abilities. There are specific introductory rides as well as a range of distances and grades up to “Strenuous”. Being guided rides, they’re all graded for pace as well, which is handy. There’s a small charge of between £4.50 and £5.50 for each ride, of which 50p goes towards the upkeep of the local rights of way network or other environmental projects. Numbers are limited, so get yourself booked in early.
And if you’re seeking a slightly different bike-related experience, the Cycling Circus that’s running as part of the Celebration Day will be just the ticket. There’ll be the opportunity to have a go on unicycles, minibikes, penny farthings, the gauntlet-throwing “unrideable bikes” and various other things. More directly mountain bike-related will be an MTB obstacle course and hands-on GPS demos.
It all sounds very promising, the area’s a great one for riding and with the walks and other activities looks like a great bet for a not-all-riding family. Further details can be found at www.walkcyclenorthdevon.co.uk.