… of the Great Western Randonnées’ landscape. Each ride has a more concise collection on their page; grouped by ‘event’ if appropriate: the distance variations, perms, slightly hAAArder ones, etc.
Test Ride 2017
Late April I set off, nerves tightly bundled, would I be able to do it? I hadn’t done any training apart from regular riding. I’d given myself targets for each day, packed several kilos of malt loaf, said bye to the family and was off!
Into Wales, on roads less travelled on audaxes, finding desolate hill tops quickly and constantly.The top of Hirnant Pass after Llyn Efyrnwy was welcomed as I knew the descent was a long one! Night drawing in as I scaled Bwlch Penbarras of the Clywdian Hills before skulking into Chester just before midnight to find a comfortable spot to sleep.
Up at the crack I’m off to Runcorn having to navigate (throw bike over a fence) roadworks. The result being the Jubilee Bridge is now open to bikes, buses and local traffic only so you’ll get to enjoy it a bit more. Weave through old industrial towns to Preston and to the Forest of Bowland. Nothing too taxing, a good mind easer as you question “WTF am I doing?”. Pennines: stunning, brutal, glorious, you’ll be raising that “WTF?” question again until you are spat out the other side. Hexham onto Kielder was done in the dark, it was a cold dark tonight. I crossed the border in the early hours and hunkered down for the night.
Glorious weather again I set off down the valley before more hills as I sped east to west across the bottom of Scotland to Galloway Forest and some forest tracks from Clatteringshaws to Glentrool. Desolation score off the chart! Heading north over the Southern Uplands I’m in Ayrshire; rolling countryside, hills deceptive. Descending into Glasgow at midnight, AirBnB tonight!
Up early, MDs for breakfast, head south again, all downhill from here. I followed the old road tracking the M74, the surface was diabolical; new route will be through Strathaven, more countryside and hopefully a better surface.
Back into England after Gretna, Carlisle then over the western edge of the Lakes where the hills began again. I was at ease with them now; over a 1000km done, I was almost home! Hardknott to walk was spectacular. I set near the top overlooking the Roman Fort, Eskdale and out to the Irish Sea as the sun sank. In the gloom Wrynose wa ticked off and I sped to Windermere and indulged in a last minute AirBnB.
Such a good sleep, wandered into town at 9am and sat in a cafe on the corner for a proper full english and proper coffee as I watched the world go by. At this point all my anxiety had gone. I’d figured out my ‘metric’ and calculated I had loads of time in hand. An hour later I picked my bike up and headed off. Crossed the Forest of Bowland the other way. Navigated old mill towns north east of Manchester. Slithered up Snake Pass, watched by some bemused coppers, in the fading light. The top, the highest point of this version, not yours – The Cam High Road steals it by an extra 75metres, before descending to Derby. 24hr MDs at midnight.
I’d keep going after coffee, and more coffee. Silently through the night, everything still, now the early morning. A Juniper tree on the outskirts of Stratford upon Avon made an excellent home for a few hours shut eye; its drooping boughs keeping the breeze at bay.
On a high down low, no hills to be seen. Cross the Vale of Evesham. The Cotswolds rise up in their quaint irrelevance to what has been before. But they still pack a punch by this point. Who cares? At the other end is Bristol. Dropping off the escarpment, still an hour away the emotions rose. Had I really just done that?
I had and I’ve never look at a ride the same again. Anything is achievable once you tell your brain to “shut up!”
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.
Excellent early season 400
Yes, 400 – with the late start this is an excellent ECE opportunity. Ridden twice, thoroughly enjoyed the route, controls and riding companions. Caffeine tablets recommended! Looking forward to next time…
GWRaudax / Sinseekers & Moonrakers 300 BR
What a day & what a route. We set out from Warmley on a very warm & beautiful day and headed out on the cycle path before turning off at Salford into quiet back country lanes. Before we knew it we reached the first check point a lovely farm shop at Stourbridge, Fueled up we were back on the road heading towards the coast with a few #willshills thrown in. We stopped for lunch at Lulworth Cove which was a nice treat, we then moved onto Studland taking in a lovely gravel section and then taking the ferry across to Sandbanks with the rich & famous. The route from Poole was again stunning with miles of quiet country lanes, a bit more gravel thrown in and a lovely food stop in Shaftesbury at 10.00pm. We rolled back into Warmley at 3.00am. A long but very enjoyable day and the route really is a must for anyone who enjoys the quiet lanes, seeing the coast for an hour or two and having a long enjoyable day in the saddle.
Organiser’s review & image test
Well, being the creator of this ride I can only say it is excellent 😉
Test rode it with Mr. T back in March 2017 & again on the event 2019 where I’d made a few changes. Now incorporating Woodhenge & Durrington Walls as well as Avebury and Stonehenge. Great cafe stops. And of course a few #wills_hills before the finish. One of my favourite routes
No moon Just full clouds of wetness.
Fantastic route to toughen the resolve with the weather conditions we encountered early March. Driving rain all the way round and fog on higher ground with 6 feet visibility added to the atmospheric conditions. . New climb for me to get on top of the Mendips – Coley Road out of Harptee towards Chewton Mendip. descent down Canada coombe after Bleadon a little sketchy but prewarned at arrivee.
Brilliant route would be a great ride in the summer.
Great tough days riding
This was a great ride and brilliantly organised thanks to Will and his team… there is a sting in the tail after Radstock with some challenging ascents…
Great day out, I think Will must have found every 20%+ climb in Somerset and Dorset. Well chuffed to get up them all, good controls & scoff. Special thanks to the “Oldies” at Yeovil working their socks off to feed us all.
Response from Pedalution
Trust me Jim, there are more! 😉
Not my cup of tea
There was a long stretch of very busy roads with too many traffic lights coming to London that I hate it. I did enjoy the first part, probably because it was daylight?
Response from Pedalution
Quieter route in but longer for the future
My first 600 km
This was my first 600 and my bottom was suffering very badly. Likely I was riding most of the route with someone, which made it a bit more enjoyable!.
Big that you to Michal and Zlatimira! And Thank you to Will, too! 🙂