Exe Barnstaple Branch 400

The inaugral Great Western Randonnées’ AAA 400. All aboard to Bishop’s Lydeard Station before traversing the northern coastline of Exmoor. Use the old Barnstaple branch-line and head home via The Blackdown Hills.

Redcliffe, City of Bristol | Sat 9th Apr 2022 @ 04:00

WHEN: +iCal
Sat 9th April 2022
04:00 - 08:25
Sun 10th April 2022
Benjamin Perry Scout Hut
Pheonix Wharf
Redcliffe, BS1 6SR
Exe Barnstaple Branch 400 1
Award Distance:
Total Distance:
AAA: 6.75
Apex Grimpeur
Exe Barnstaple Branch 400 3Enquiries

The inaugral Great Western Randonnées’ AAA 400. All aboard to Bishop’s Lydeard Station before traversing the northern coastline of Exmoor. Use the old Barnstaple branch-line and head home via The Blackdown Hills.


A quick exit south from central Bristol over the looming Dundry Hill into the Chew Valley. Hop over The Mendips and descend the glorious Cheddar Gorge to the flats of the Somerset Levels. Pass through Bridgwater and begin the gradual ascent of The Quantocks; before plunging down the other side to Bishop’s Lydeard Station on the West Somerset Railway. Heading into Exmoor and rack up a considerable amount of climbing in a short space along the amazing North Devon coast including: Dunkery Beacon; Porlock Toll Road; Valley of the Rocks. Exiting Ilfracombe use the old Barnstaple branch-line path to once again touch the coast at Croyde before picking up the old railway along the Taw Estuary. From Barnstaple begin the long climb to the top of Exmoor once more then enjoy a respite along the fantastic southern ridge with views across Devon to Dartmoor Drop into the Barle Valley shortly joining the Exe. A smattering of bumps enatils as you make your way across to and then over the Blackdown Hills to Winsham Jubilee Hall where dinner is provided late into the night; will you take a quick nap? The final leg north is easier going to begin as again you edge The Levels passing Glastonbury. Then once more over The Mendips and Dundry to see Bristol as it is probably awakening to the Arrivee!


Dinner included.

Parking available in Bristol, charges may apply.

Like or loath* it? Let others know.
*Whilst I like to think I can affect the weather alas that is beyond my control...

What others think.

Brutal and wonderful

15th April 2022

This was my first 400 and I suppose I could not have picked a harder one. Incredible route, combined with great dry weather but brutal temperatures over night.. The guys at the last checkpoint were life savers, so although I missed my qualifying time by 35 mins there is no way I would have completed it without their support…Will I do it again, not sure, but I know I can’t do the 600…

Avatar for Gideon

Fabulous but brutal

10th April 2022

Even without the sub-zero night temperatures, the Exe Barnstaple Branch is easily the hardest 400 I’ve done. But also the best 400 route: fabulous scenery & views (mostly accessible only by brutal climbs), the Exe railway path (which gives the event its name) is stunning, two great cafe controls early on, Winsham a perfect final night control. The 4am start time works really well with sunrise over the Somerset Levels, and the best views all seen in daylight. Expect a full-value ride in more ways than one! Thanks and well done Will and helpers Chris H & Jeremy at Winsham.

Avatar for Martin

Cracking ride!

14th October 2020

Where does he find these #wills_hills? Not one for the faint hearted! Em and I rode it on our own. We had lots of darkeness due to our start time, but what we did see until the turnaround point was breathtaking. So many incredible places I hadn’t been before. One of my highlights has to be the toll road. Such a great challenge – this route won’t fail to deliver.

Avatar for Anisa

Bookings aren't available; either I haven't opened entry yet or if after 07/04/22 then they have closed.

You are attending this event.

The following ride details are currently: Pending - all specifics are usually updated the 5th day before the event.

  • Please flick through the following tabs fully and make any preparations before the event.
  • Route files & links will be found under the 'Route' tab.
  • The event/route specific information will be finalised usually the Monday before the event and you will get an email reminder 3 days prior from bookings-noreply@pedalution.co.uk - add it to your address book to save any disappointment.
  • Should you be unable to attend the event I have enabled cancellation from 'My Bookings'. This will aid me in keeping controls informed as to how many to expect and also reduce wastage when printing the brevet cards. Remember there is no option to refund or transfer if you are unable to attend.
  • You will receive your brevet card at the start. Should you start the ride and be unable to finish my phone number is within; please drop me a text with your full name to let me know you won't be finishing so volunteers and myself aren't waiting around longer than necessary at controls and the finish.
  • Please use 'Enquires' link above for any queries.

New to audax? Have a look at Audax UK's About for an overview & FAQs for commonly asked questions.

  • Until the route is finalised the interactive map above will give you an idea of where you are going.
  • It is advisable to study the route notes prior to the event for further details; especially if you are just using a GPX breadcrumb trail to navigate. These are also the 'cuesheet' within the RWGPS route; zoom the map to your desired level, click on a cue and it will focus the map at that cue.
  • Every effort is made to identify road closures before the event and provide alternatives where necessary; however I can not account for any emergency closures that are required.
  • A variety of surfaces may be encountered, some may be as smooth as a baby's bum, others potholed nightmares, or somewhere in between; if any unmetalled sections are used this will be noted in the Event Info above and now visible as 'unpaved' within RWGPS.
  • I do my utmost to select low traffic routes but there may be times busier sections are required.
  • Mudguards aren't mandatory but if you can fit them why wouldn't you?
  • I would always recommend a set of lights as you never know what could happen.
  • Similarly consider carrying 2 space blankets; they cost nothing, are tiny, and can keep you and an other warm should the unfortunate happen.
Study the route out leaving Bristol where it uses the cycle route at the end of the docks.
Some of the descents especially along the north coast are steep; I highly advise you service your brakes before riding.
A few shared paths are using in places, respect other users and consider them all to be more vulnerable than you.
ROUTE UPDATE - EASTON FINISH - RWGPS route is current and will take you to my house for the Arrivee. This route is also in the event along with the original and an extension to Easton. The 3 linked individual files are updated.
Route Files:

CSV route notes - these can be edited in any spreadsheet software.


PDF route notes - a version with maps is available in linked RWGPS route (no account necessary to use the official PDF - use 'More v') or the event.


GPX with control waypoints - if re-uploading to an online planner please make private so as not to confuse others in the future - use this tool to split at waypoints and/or simplify.

RWGPS Links:

RWGPS Event - at least a free account needed but you will get full premium features, including offline maps & voice nav for the app, regardless of your subscription level. To sync to your device (Wahoo, Garmin Edge) you need to join this first.


RWGPS Route - no account needed but you will lack a few advanced features such as early turn warnings.

See the RWGPS App for my tips to use your phone for navigation and maximising battery life.

  • Can't copy the RWGPS route to your account? I have disabled this so should any changes be necessary there is the one correct version.
  • I do not provide technical services for your device having never used anything other than the RWGPS app.
  • Can't add it to Garmin Connect? It isn't an activity. Transfer it to your Garmin via USB.
  • Can't send to your device? Join the RWGPS event.
PLEASE SEE EMAIL UPDATE - No access to Benjamin Perry Scout Hut in morning - FINISH moved to my house.I'll be there from about 03:30.
There is no secure luggage storage as the hut may be used by others during the day. If you need me too look after any please contact me so I can decide whether I need just panniers or my bike trailer.

Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the depart time to collect your brevet card.

Benjamin Perry Scout Hut - opens new tab for map.
Pheonix Wharf, Redcliffe, City of Bristol, BS1 6SR


  • Bike - Easily accessible central location.
  • Car - No access by car.
  • Train - A short distance from Temple Meads. Exit via the back entrance and turn left using shared path adjacent to road, cross Temple Way and follow. Before dock bridge cross road into Phoenix Wharf and the hut is the black building on waters edge.

No Parking - Managed parking available in the centre at a cost. Otherwise use the map of resident parking zones to find a suitable space. The south west part of the city is your best bet.

Food & Drink:
Food & Drinks available.
Light food available as limited kitchen facilities. Tea and Coffee.
Unless specified otherwise above.

Bristol YHA is a short distance away as well as city centre hotels.


19 Berwick Rd, Easton, BS5 6NG - ORANGE DOOR on the right nearing the end (brown on street view). Knock loudly or call me when you arrive (number in brevet card); if you just want to head off make sure your brevet card is filled out fully, questions answered and receipts in the ziplok bag and post through the door.
Due to the numbers I'll have to just offer what I was going to at Benjamin Perry which will be instant noodles with peas & sweetcorn; plus tea & coffee.
Some of you may have finished here before on other events, it is a DIY work in progress. I have a toilet but it is an en suite in the loft; the other one hasn't been built yet and currently is a store for various bikes...
For those few that are aiming to get round very quick there is a crossover as I'll be at the Ostrich Pub a few hundred metres before Benjamin Perry for the Down & Black 200 riders until about 21:30 so use the original route and come by there; I'll be sat outside. When I leave I'll retrace the route to the Bedminster RBT then follow it to Easton and hopefully catch any energetic riders as they pass me. Sorry for the late change I was hoping it would all work out. - opens new tab for map & a few details.

Route Controls:

  • DEPART: BRISTOL - Benjamin Perry Scout Hut | 04:00
  • C1 @ 25km | INFO: CHARTERHOUSE - see brevet
  • C2 @ 80km | CONTROL: BISHOPS LYDEARD - Daisy's Tea Room | 07:14-09:40
  • C3 @ 115km | INFO: DUNKERY BEACON - see brevet
  • C4 @ 146km | CONTROL: VALLEY OF ROCKS (LYNTON) - Mother Meldrums | 09:50-14:13
  • C5 @ 171km | INFO: ILFRACOMBE - see brevet
  • C6 @ 185km | CONTROL: CROYDE [Free] - collect receipt | 11:24-16:57
  • C7 @ 213km | INFO: BRATTON FLEMING - see brevet
  • C8 @ 248km | CONTROL: DULVERTON [Free] - collect reciept | 13:55-21:22
  • C9 @ 274km | INFO: BICKLEIGH - Railway Centre - see brevet
  • C10 @ 327km | CONTROL: WINSHAM - Jubilee Hall | 17:04-02:53
  • ARRIVE: EASTON - 19 Berwick Rd | 20:29-08:49

This is what 'audax' is all about. Travelling between controls to collect proof of passage (PoP) to prove you have cycled the distance. The above controls are found in your brevet card, the route notes, as POIs with the route, and waypoints with the GPX. Your brevet card it to be filled out as you progress around the route. PoP is obtained in several ways. It is highly recommended you carry a pen or pencil to fill your brevet card as you go; if it is a long event numbering any receipts to correspond with the control number will save you time later, then keeping them in order is next level!

Types of control:
  • CONTROL - a place or venue where you obtain PoP which can be done in several ways. You will be able to get food and/or drink, also WC will be available.
    • Manned - a volunteer or venue member of staff will stamp your card providing PoP. All controls are thus unless specified as...
    • Free - you must obtain PoP from that place that has a time and date, usually a receipt from a cafe, shop or ATM.
  • INFO - a question found in your brevet card that is relevent to the location needs to be answered and recorded.
  • CHECKPOINT - similar to a control but there may not be any facilities present.
  • SECRET - now that would be telling wouldn't it!

I use the RWGPS app on my phone to navigate audax events by using spoken cues, I also use it to route check and proof my route notes. This IMHO is the best of all worlds. I don't need to look at a screen (but I can check if I want), I get clear directions when needed (you may need to get used to my shorthand which gets spoken as such), I get a warning if I'm off route, the battery lasts a lot longer than constantly using the screen; especially nowadays as phone batteries are getting bigger plus many are able to rapid charge in a short amount of time. All you need is a good case and mount for inclement weather.

  • Install the app.
  • Join the event.
  • Go to the route.
  • Send to device.
  • Open app and confirm download.
  • In settings (exact location varies depending on iOS or Android) to optomise for best battery use:
    • Logging - adjust interval: every 10s is best for the battery, logs your ride but won't get you any KOMs; every 1s uses 10x more battery power to write data but may get you a KOM if you pedal quick.
    • Navigation - Spoken alerts ON | Off-course alerts ON | others at your discretion.
    • Handlebar mode ENABLED - this will keep RWGPS above any screen lock so you can recall it if needed by pressing power button or similar.
    • Handlebar mode - Screen OFF for cues | Proximity Wake OFF (otherwise changes in light will turn the screen on) | Keep screen on NEVER.
    • Offline mode ENABLED - when you start riding.
  • Better still use flight/aeroplane mode whilst riding.
  • You can adjust the text-speech settings via your phone settings; the type of voice, playback speed etc.

Most of the battery drain on a phone is from the screen. By using voice commands you eliminate this but can still view the map if needs be. The second biggest drain whilst cycling is the phone itself searching for a signal as you move between cell towers; putting the phone into flight/aeroplane mode whilst moving solves this problem; you can easily turn data back on to #tag that #CAKE at the next stop!


Make sure battery optimisation is turned off otherwise Android will recognise RWGPS as an excessive battery drain and can limit its functionality. This will be particularily evident if you stop for a bit without GPS signal then continue; the app will appear to be functioning correctly but Android will limit it and data can be lost from the stop point until the app is restarted. There may be a similar feature in iOS.

  • Settings >Apps.
  • Find RWGPS and expand Advanced >Battery.
  • If it says optomised then select and wait for all apps to load.
  • Make sure the apps displayed are 'All apps', find RWGPS and select.
  • Select 'Don't optimise'. Exit settings.

You have agreed to and declared that at the time of the ride...

  • You have no symptoms relating to COVID-19.
  • That you are not self-isolating.
  • That you are not required to quarantine during the period of the event.
  • That no local or other regulations prohibit you from attending this event.
  • You agree that if you develop any such symptoms before the event you will not attend.
  • You agree that if I develop any such symptoms immediately after the event I shall inform the organiser.

Please follow any wishes of private establishments en route. I highly recommend carrying a mask/buff/scarf etc for the simple act of covering your face if needed when indoors. Any specifics requested by controls will be noted in the control tab.

Audax UK's current policy can be found here.