For 2023 we start the Full Route from Dover Harbour at the new home of our very first sponsor – The Independent Pedaler! The newly developed harbour and the backdrop of the iconic White Cliffs make for an amazing start point and once out of the town the route immediately takes you into the Garden of England and connects with the existing route near Bridge just outside Canterbury. The North Downs Way and some quiet back roads take you cross-country to Eastbourne for the South Downs Way which, as anyone who has ridden it will tell you is a beautiful but tough opening salvo. Once you reach Winchester the transition into the New Forest and CP1 in Lyndhurst is fairly quick. A loop of the forest sends you up towards Salisbury Plain and then on to the outskirts of Bath via the first of several canal paths on the route.
From here you will head West and into Wales where the challenge starts to ramp up, as does the elevation. CP2 is in Talybont and will also double up as the start location for the Short(er) Route. Straight after checkpoint you pass first through the Brecon Beacons National Park (the Full and Shorter Routes will be subtly different here so we do not send riders who have just started over the Brecon Gap), the Cambrian Mountains and then on to the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. There are some truly epic off-road sections combined with some iconic road climbs in Wales that will test the most experienced of riders.
Heading East out of Wales there is about 120km of quiet roads across to the Peak District – not the most exciting bit of the route but the first half is fairly flat and it will give you a break after Wales and before hitting the Pennine Way. Once here you again head North for some more stunning but hard, technical riding – the two sections of the route this comprises of are without doubt the hardest of the whole route with relentless climbs and some hike-a-bike. Continuing North, you then ride through the Yorkshire Dales and onto CP3, the final checkpoint before the finish and over two editions we have found that if you can reach CP3, you can finish.. From here you will travel to the East of the Lake District and then through the North Pennines and Northumberland National Park where more stunning scenery and challenging climbs await.
Next Scotland looms…. Passing through Kielder Forest and then crossing the border the route heads towards Hawick, Peebles and then into the Pentland Hills towards Edinburgh through more beautiful rolling but challenging countryside. The route swings West across to Glasgow via the Caledonian Canal path which offers up another section of respite before once again heading North, don’t be fooled though – this longish flat section is a mental challenge if not a physical one…
The route uses a short piece of the Rob Roy Way and then a short section of the West Highland Way to get you to Drymen before reconnecting with the Rob Roy Way up to Aberfoyle where you will enjoy some of the best riding of the whole route. From here it is on up to Callander, then Killin before you head into the wilds of Rannoch Forest and over Rannoch Moor on the Road to the Isles and eventually the mighty Corrieyairack Pass.
Once in Fort Augustus, it’s just 60km to go with a combination of the Caledonian Canal and the Great Glen Way (which still has some climbing!) back to the outskirts of Fort William. Then it’s a short blast of cycle path before heading back off-road for the final short climb on lovely fire roads into the finish at the Nevis Range – home to the World Cup Downhill course!
Full GPX files for the route will be shared with all participants in early June 2023.