Daniel Groves

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Burrator and Sheepstor Exploration

Published: 3 February 2014 · Tags: bike, dartmoor, exploration

Exploring new riding options around Burrator Reservoir and Sheepstor

Being located in Plymouth the university cycling club regularly rides out towards Burrator Reservoir to do a loop up to Princetown and back; we’re rather well located for it. Lately, however, Joe and I have been wanting to explore more in the area to try and find some new trails to ride. To start things off we headed out the normal route (via the Plym Vally cycle path) and then cracked out an OS map at the head of the reservoir.

We decided we’d pickup the trail that runs along the bottom of Sheepstor and then take our pick of the different routes up to the top. This was steep, and fairly slippery; a problem emphasized further by the narrow tires on Joe’s CX bike. The very top was rather rocky, as expected from the OS map, and so we shouldered the bikes to hike–a–bike the 20–or–so meters of unridable boulders.

 alt: Incoming Rain.
Incoming Rain.

Unfortunately at this point the rain we could had spotted in the distance hit us pretty hard. After having spent less than a minute on the top we turned around and started the decent. After hopping over the rocks again the decent was pretty fast; the wind was getting up, which made for interesting situations as it attempted to blow the bike sideways. With no wheels are on the ground this can lead to some interesting line choices; thankfully we both made it back down in one piece.

 alt: Joe Descending on Sheepstor.
Joe Descending on Sheepstor.

At this point we returned the way we came, along a rocky length of singletrack which runs around the base of Sheepstor and then continued around Burrator Reservoir on the road. We soon picked a random left-hand turn and dived down the logging tracks through the woods, and then reappeared further along the road having cut a corner off. We continued further along the road until we came across a waterfall.

 alt: Photographing waterfalls well without a tripod is quite difficult.
Photographing waterfalls well without a tripod is quite difficult.

We must have ridden within meters of this waterfall hundreds of times, and yet had never noticed it before. In all fairness, it might not actually be a waterfall all year round. It’s quite likely that in the summer months it’s just a trickle.

Update: I just found it marked on the OS map, so it probably is there all year round.

 alt: You can get some impressive detail with 1/1000th exposure.
You can get some impressive detail with 1/1000th exposure.

After this we headed straight back, via Meavy and down the Plym Valley cycle path again (this is the easiest route out to the Moor for us). It was a good, if tiring, day in the saddle finding some new trails to ride and covering a reasonable 58km.

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