Exe Barnstaple Branch 400

2nd running of Exe Barnstaple Branch 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 13th Jul 2024 @ 04:00

WHEN: +iCal
Sat 13th July 2024
04:00 - 08:25
Sun 14th July 2024
The Ostrich
Lower Guinea Street
Redcliffe, BS1 6TJ
Exe Barnstaple Branch 400 1
Award Distance:
Total Distance:
AAA: 6.75
Apex Grimpeur
Exe Barnstaple Branch 400 3Enquiries

2nd running of Exe Barnstaple Branch 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.

The Exe Barnstaple Branch 400 will test your legs whilst providing stunning views as you circumnavigate Exmoor.


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 passing the station on the West Somerset Railway.

Head into Exmoor first climbing Dunkery Beacon then rack up a considerable amount of climbing in a short space along the amazing North Devon coast including Porlock Toll Road and 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 entails 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!

  • Food and drink included at Winsham.
  • Depending on volunteers available:
    • Hopefully food and drink at Arrivee, or
    • Postal finish (stamped addressed envelope provided) if I’m at Winsham.
  • Parking available in Bristol, charges may apply.
  • Be aware of the CAZ.

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 11/07/24 then they have closed.

You are attending this event.

The following ride details are currently: CONFIRMED - all details have been updated. You will be notified by email of any last minute changes made here.

  • 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.

General points:

  • Many of the descents especially along the north coast are steep and narrow; I highly advise you service your brakes before riding.
  • A few shared paths are used in places, respect other users and consider them all to be more vulnerable than you.
  • Brevet cards will be collected at Winsham Control. On finishing get a receipt from Bedminster PO, photo & email/message.
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.

The start has moved to near The Ostrich about 100m from the Benjamin Perry Hut. Collect your card and wait to be set off. I shall arrive about 03:45. No facilities. No bag drop/storage. No parking - inside Clean Air Zone.

The finish requires a receipt, the route ends at Bedminster PO with ATM. Take a photo of receipt & email/messaage. Your brevet card will have been collected at Winsham.


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

The Ostrich - opens new tab for map.
Lower Guinea Street, Redcliffe, City of Bristol, BS1 6TJ


  • Bike - Easily accessed of Guinea Street
  • Car - Best place to drop off would be Commercial Road
  • Train - Bristol Temple Meads is a short distance away.

No Parking -

Food & Drink:
Food & Drinks available.
Pub grub available during their normal opening hours.
Unless specified otherwise above.



Bedminster PO, East St - opens new tab for map & a few details.

Route Controls:

  • 0km | DEPART: BRISTOL - Benjamin Perry Scout Hut | 04:00
  • 25km | INFO: CHARTERHOUSE - see brevet
  • 80km | CONTROL: BISHOPS LYDEARD - Daisy's Tea Room | 07:14-09:40
  • 115km | INFO: DUNKERY BEACON - see brevet
  • 136km | INFO: MALMSMEAD - see brevet
  • 146km | CONTROL: VALLEY OF ROCKS (LYNTON) - Mother Meldrums | 09:50-14:13
  • 171km | INFO: ILFRACOMBE - see brevet
  • 185km | CONTROL: CROYDE [Free] - collect receipt | 11:24-16:57
  • 213km | INFO: BRATTON FLEMING - see brevet
  • 248km | CONTROL: DULVERTON [Free] - collect reciept | 13:55-21:22
  • 274km | INFO: BICKLEIGH - Railway Centre - see brevet
  • 327km | CONTROL: WINSHAM - Jubilee Hall | 17:04-02:53
  • 409km | ARRIVE: BEDMINSTER - PO, East St | 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.