Start Date: 17 August 2014, 8am

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England-Wales-England: EWE. A multi-day mountain bike race in the UK.

Having raced the Tour Divide and Iditarod Trail Invitational, I’ve seen some amazing places and enjoyed racing through them.

The UK has plenty of amazing places, too. England-Wales-England is a race with similar ideals, but playing to the strengths of mountain biking in our country. A closer model than the Tour Divide would be the Colorado Trail Race: we don’t do giant empty dirt roads, but we do do engaging and challenging mountain biking. We do crazy weather. We do more remote than some people would think possible on a crowded little island.


This race is for the self-sufficient rider:

  • No entry fee
  • No prizes
  • No marshalls
  • No support
  • No stages
This is a race. If you want to tour it, just download the route and ride it in your own time.

52 comments to EWE

  • CTR rules, apart from the navigation bit πŸ˜‰
    looks about 800+ miles to me, excited already.

  • For the finish, you could use the Devon coast to coast route: 103 miles (71 miles traffic free) from the north coast down into Plymouth. NCN 27 and 3.

  • Great start Aidan. This has the potential to be a real bruiser!

  • This looks awesome, what a good idea πŸ™‚

    Just a thought for the route planning from Burnley to Middleton top there is the Pennine Bridleway i think it also goes further north than Burnley but at over 130 miles (it says 200+mi on the website but i am not to sure about the route) it could be a good chunk of the route, also there is some nice riding as well.

  • Mike Toyn

    So it looks like the Lakes is High Street, Garburn, Sadgill, Borrowdale??? Good choice

    • Ha-ha! It’s just a rough line on the map at the moment. I will try to get some Lakes classics in there when it gets more detailed up there.

  • I got the start and finish the wrong way around, sorry.

  • Nice work Aidan. As a Peak local, I’d never do the Pennine Bridleway as it’s boring as fook. Depends if you want something easyish for doing loaded up, but if you want proper fun, then running through the Dark Peak over Cut Gate and out north from Langsett and possibly then using a bit of the TransPennine Trail to get you to another trail head would be a much more fun and enjoyable bit of proper mountain biking. Depending on levels of cheekiness, the Pennine Way from Holmfirth over to Marsden then on to the M62/Calderdale is quite nice. Alegedly.

    • That was my concern about the Pennine Bridleway. I deliberately didn’t start the outline route anywhere near the South Downs Way because it would set the wrong tone from the outset.

      What I want is a route that is fun on an unladen day-trip. If riders take too much gear, then they’ll might well struggle. But the dry weight of my Pegasus for the Divide was 32lbs so it should be possible to have a very rideable setup.

    • Fair point πŸ™‚ the north of the PBW is OK, but like you say the south about 20mi from Middleton Top is dead flat and boring. it’s just a suggestion to get from A to B if it ends up in that area.

  • Tom

    I could help out with northern NYmoors and also southern via someone else.
    I have a mapped route for a NYmoors circumnavigation ish route which coould easily be modified. Not ridden it mind or all the sections but to firm up a route it’d be a nice motivation to go and do some of the sections.

  • What a truly excellent endeavour. I’ll be watching with lots of interest and will have a big red pan next to my calendar come January! This is the kind of thing that crops up from time to time with a lot of the 24hr racers I talk to, could be a very popular race. Good luck to you. The only shame is my local trails are not anywhere near the route, so I can’t offer “free” route miles to you.

    • Thanks, Rob.

      If there is a good, fun way from your neck of the woods to Dartmoor, I’d put it in. I just wanted to stay away from the SDW, it’s not in the character of what I’m going for here.

  • Phil

    Hey Aidan, great idea! Another reason for me to come back to the UK and do some riding. πŸ™‚



  • Rich Edge

    Now THIS is exciting! I was going to inform a chap I know called Neil Harwood, as it would be good prep for his 2013 Tour Divide, but I see he’s already ‘here’

  • Phil Miles

    Looks great. I know that the route is just a line at present so would you consider dropping a wee bit south into Wiltshire so our club could help with part of the route? I’m sure that we could come up with something through Wiltshire and Somerset, before the boring bit on the Somerset levels but then onto the Quantocks and Exmoor.

  • Got to laugh! The line you have drawn seems to go out of the it’s way to avoid Birmingham πŸ™‚ That’s where I have to ride and yes I agree, best go west and stay in Wales!

  • Hi Aidan. Great idea, great event. I live near Skipton, North Yorkshire Gateway to the Dales. I could provide some route details if it passes through the Dales.

    I’m turning 40 next year and have been looking into a big event to do. Think I have found the challenge.


    • Hi Stuart,

      I’ve got someone on the case for North York Moors, but assistance on the Dales would be great! Drop me an email if you can and we’ll talk details…


  • The Devon coast to coast route isn’t entirely traffic free, and avoids the best offroad bits of Dartmoor. You could certainly use the first section of the Devon C2C to get up onto the moor from Plymouth and then hit some more interesting trails. Several local riders have got off-road C2C routes across Devon. most of these use cheeky sections, which as an organised event you’re obviously not too keen on including. They also, by necessity, use some sections of road, especially between Dartmoor and Exmoor.

    Anyway, in my capacity as a Devon local I’ll have a look into it if that’s any help Aidan.

    Also, I see from his blog that Cass Gilbert did a trans-Devon offroader in the summer…..


    • That sounds, great. The main bit we need work on is a good route across Dartmoor and into Exmoor.

      C2C would be OK as a fallback where no decent off-road trails exist, but enjoyable riding is where it’s at!

  • Jonny Williams

    Great challenge. You could do worse than speak to Dave Buchannan about the Welsh sections.

    • Hi Johnny,

      I’m already on it. I have some guys working on the Welsh route, but Dave will be on my list to consult about what we come up with!

  • Hi Aidan,

    Please run this in the school holidays then I can do it too. In return I can plan the route from bottom of the Mary Townley Loop to exiting the Peak District. I race MTBO Score and Polaris events and know the Peaks like the back of my hand. Have also toured the Tour Divide route so keen to do a similar event in the UK but keen push it to the next level (for me) from fast/light touring to pushing my boundaries.

    Cy Turners idea of using the TransPennine Trail from Tintwhistle to link onto Cut Gate opens up lots of great riding possibilities through the Peaks.

  • Fantastic idea! Good luck.

    When we rode the Devon C2C offroad, we struggled to find much offroad between Dartmoor and Exmoor, which is a fairly sizeable chunk. We tried a few bridleways across the fields. Some worked but on the whole they felt more like a trudge,19wtake rather than a break from pavement.

    • Thanks for the heads-up. I don’t know that bit myself, but I have some locals on the case. They have instructions to go for good surface instead of off-road for the sake of it where there are no good trails.

  • Chas

    Dunno if you’re aware, but there’s an on-line map featuring every bridleway on Exmoor and Dartmoor, as well as all the AONBs in the South West. They’ve all been graded (Black/Red/Blue/Green) and well as filmed, photographed and described.


    I was one of the surveyors :O)

  • Aidan

    If you need any help on the Calderdale section – feel free to give me a shout.

    Watching with great interest!


  • Anthony Rampley

    Not any help in particular, but just logging on as another rider showing a keen interest, and good luck!

  • Graham B

    Will there be any kind of guidelines on how long you can ride each day / 24hours? I’m all for cycling through the night now and then but I’d never stand a chance against those types who can survive on very little sleep and just pedal away 23hrs a day, day after day.

  • Ian Corfe

    Shaggy and I did a scouting mission one weekend for a Dartmoor-Exmoor offroad C2C race that never happened, and he wrote it up and its published in a book somewhere – ask him for details. Agree with Cass that the middle bit is difficult to sort!

  • Jon

    Looks superb. I’ve got some time on my hands this winter and live in the Dales (I know Stuart who posted earlier) so if you need any trails looking at then let me know.

  • Steve Halsall

    Hi Aidan,

    I read with interest about your race- ite sounds fantastic. Will the route be marked? I haven’t ridden the CTR but if I’m correct I understand it’s a well established and marked route so navigation is not really an issue?


    • There won’t be any way-marking. I think the best way to do make an event like this is as cheap and ready as possible. Route-marking is expensive and overly legitimate for what I’m trying to achieve.

      The Tour Divide isn’t route-marked and works perfectly fine by following the magic line on a GPS. It has maps (which EWE will not), but I only ever used my TD maps to check out which towns had what services. In the first year of EWE, it’ll mostly be up to the riders to do their own research. Then, they might want to contribute that back into something we can publish for the following year.

      For my own safety (in England + Wales), I’m happy to rely on a GPS for exact navigation coupled with a compass and some common-sense in case of GPS failure. I think that will be enough to extract me from the hills, bearing in mind that I would be carrying food and overnight kit. Having proper maps would be good, but bulky and expensive for a race this long.

  • Rob Colliver

    Watching with interest – I don’t think I can help with the route – my training ground is the SDW – so its time to get some singletrack under my belt to prep for this one.
    Sounds like a fantastic plan, and I’m looking forward to being a crazy, sleep deprived biker again.

  • Awwww!? What did you do that for? My year’s planning is ruined, now.

    Actually, hmmm. Muses…

    If you need any help on the Welsh bit, drop me a line. If I don’t know the answer, someone will around here.

    Awesome idea.

    Best of British, to you!


    • Thanks, Dave. I think we’ve got Wales sewn up now.

      I will send you the Welsh portion of the route when it’s done, though, to see if you have any feedback…

  • Jase KΓΆS

    Hi Aidan not spoken in a while hope your well
    I may be able to help you with the Bristol/Gloucester then across the FoD ?

    Let me know how your fixed.


  • Hi Aidan,

    No!! Start date is a week before I break up for summer holidays, gutted! Also just found out about the Cairngorm Loop so missed out on that too πŸ™

    Anyway, hope it all goes well. I’m sure I’ll find another adventure to sink my teeth into.


  • Happy to have (hopefully) helped out work out the Holmfirth-Harrogate section. Enjoy! :]

  • B Dinsmore

    Hi Aiden

    Firstly, I fully support these types of events, having done a few myself.

    However, I see the race is using footpaths and some of the national footpath trails.
    I don’t agree with this. Racing mountain bikes on bridelways and tracks can cause issues with other users, never mind racing a mountain bike along the Pennine Way footpath!
    Good luck and hope you don’t meet any Ramblers groups along the way!

    • I think you grossly mis-characterise the use of footpaths in this event. The Pennine Way footpath section that you’re referring to is 3 miles in a 1300 mile route i.e. 0.2% of the total distance. Most of that is on a white road.

      The ROW in this country are ridiculous. If you’d have spent as long looking at maps as I have, you’d realise just how ridiculous. Bridleways that go to the middle of nowhere and turn into footpaths? Rights of way with no track whatsoever on the ground? Rights of way through forests with locked gates? Electric fences? And so on.

      The route is the best we could do to stay legal within the insanity of what is actually permitted.

      We’re not talking about hyped up XC racers trying to gain a precious few seconds here. If you’re going to ride like an arse and upset other trail users, you’ll be doing much more of that on the Tissington Trail than you will be on the shorter footpath sections.

      See Rule 1.

  • Mark McPhillips

    If it’s this track then it’s legal. It’s actually a bridleway and has been for years just not been updated on the 1 to 50000 maps


  • Iain Jagger

    I agree with Aidan with the bridleways stopping in the middle of no where these guys are cycling 100 miles each day they will be not be riding at 20 + mph

  • Justin Flanagan

    I agree 100% with Aidan on this matter. Nothing more frustrating when you have a bridleway turning into a footpath and then back to bridleway. The way I look at this is as follows.

    If I see horse track on the footpath, then I think sod it, I am going to ride it too!

    What is even more annoying is all of the idiots I encouter on enduro bikes who rip up the bridleways. They don’t seem to give a damn