Are you looking for adventure without having to travel too far this year? Then maybe the UK section of the Trans Euro Trail is just what you need.
Back at the beginning of 2020, before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, my brother and I had planned a 2 week trip on the bikes to Spain, one big trip before my daughter was born. As you can imagine, those plans were cancelled quite quickly, and instead we found ourselves planning long-weekend getaways on the UK TET when the lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Why Should You Ride the TET?
Riding the TET, not only provides you with a challenge, but allows you to see our country in a totally different light. You will travel along roads and trails that you never knew existed, and see sights that you wouldn’t normally see on any other trip.
Due to how remote the TET can be, it allows you to have a Covid-safe holiday away on the bikes. This is especially true if you decide to camp overnight, minimising your contact with civilisation.
How do I Prepare for the TET?
From simple gravel tracks, to technical hill climbs, the UK Trans Euro Trail has it all. I wouldn’t recommend riding it without even a little experience riding your adventure bike in the dirt. There is never too much to fear though, as you can always turn around and bypass a trail if things get too tricky. Having a riding partner is essential though, mainly if the bike gets stuck, but also if you injure yourself.
If you are able, then practice riding on your local byways, to build some experience before you set off. You can find these by using an app such as OS Maps on your phone.
How do I Navigate the TET?
The Trans Euro Trail map is free to download and use from their website and app. Once you have the GPX file, you need an appropriate app to upload it to. I use OsmAnd for this and I make sure that I have offline maps downloaded so that I’m always covered, no matter how far from civilisation I wander.
Once I have all of this loaded up, I simply mount my phone into my Ultimateaddons case, plug in the charger and away I go. The UA case is without a doubt the best option for this kind of riding. The rugged case keeps the phone protected against bumps and knocks from branches and drops etc. In the summer, your phone is protected from the dust and dirt that inevitably gets kicked up on the trail, and in the wetter months keeps your phone dry and clean from the rain and mud.
Highlights of the UK TET
Whichever section of the Trans Euro Trail you choose to ride, there will always be stand out and memorable sections. Here are a few of my favourites from my travels:
Above Porthowan Beach - Cornwall
Cornwall is a very scenic section of the TET, but is quite short on trails, and these are never too technically challenging. Probably the most stunning view that I have seen on the TET is in the middle of a trail that looks out over the cliffs at Porthowan Beach. Nothing but blue skies and the big, blue ocean (provided the weather is good, obviously).
Riding the trails in Devon
I am lucky enough to live in Devon, very close the TET itself. By far the most technical trails that I have encountered on the route reside down here in this county, and the variety of types of trail is incredible. If you are really after a challenge, then this is the section for you.
You wouldn’t expect to come across a sight like this while riding in the UK. This is a Holloway nestled away in Dorset, tunneled out over hundreds of years, literally by footsteps and cart wheels. There are many dotted around the area but the route takes you through Hell Lane, by far the most impressive one about. The lane is full of carvings in the soft sandstone and tree trucks fallen across high above. The lane has even earned a mention in the Atlas Obscura.
Just, all of Wales!
If there is one place to beeline to for a weekend (or week) of phenomenal adventure riding, then it is definitely Wales. The trails are wide, long and the scenery is to die for!
The sense of adventure here is immense, and there are sections of trail where there is nothing but you, the dirt and miles of mountainous countryside.
Camping or Hotels?
How adventurous are you? There is no right or wrong answer here, I have done both options on different TET trips.
There is something to be said about packing everything you need to survive onto your bike and setting off into the dirt. Obviously you need the right equipment here and need to pack as light as possible, so it requires a little more investment if you don’t have it all already.
When riding in Wales, we opted for the BnB approach, with the questionable Welsh weather and the time of year, having a warm roof over our head at the end of each day was definitely a comfort. The days can be long and exhausting and you need to be able to recover for the next day.
One piece of advice I would offer though is to book and shop locally. Not only does it help you experience the local culture, but it gives back to the local community.
What if I Have More Questions?
The TET community is quite large and plenty of the riders are happy to offer advice and help. The TET website has a forum and there is an active Facebook group too.
You can also head over to 9to5ADV.com and send me a message, I’m always happy to help!
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