Exmoor Forest Climb
Exmoor Forest (Watersmeet)
Number 6 in Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs.
It's not the steepest, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's one of the longest climbs on Exmoor. Starting in Lynmouth, Devon, this climb, climbs and climbs, for almost 7 miles up on to the top of the moor.
As with much of Exmoor, I'm very happy to tell you how beautiful it is, firstly along the banks of the the river, through the woodland, then then out onto the hills with 360 views of the moor.
Lynmouth is a pretty village at sea level on the North Devon coast, with the East and West Lyn rivers joining and then flowing out into the Bristol Channel.
Lynmouth is surrounded by hills, so the exit routes are all uphill, the Exmoor Forest climb is a long climb heading inland. Starting at the beginning of Watersmeet Road, it's narrow in places so beware of traffic coming towards you in the middle of the road. You'll soon leave the village behind and the first section of the climb is fairly gentle at it follows the river upstream for just over 2 miles (3.5 km).
As you reach a haripin bend and the A39 turns away from the river, turn left to cross over the bridge and onto the B3223. This is the start of the steeper section of climbing of around 10% for the next mile or so. The two hairpins signify the end of the hardest climbing, but there's still quite a way to go to the top of the hill.
As you cross the cattlegrid and out on to the open section, the last couple of miles are a gentle gradient as the road winds around the combes and undulations of the moor. If you have a favourable tailwind you will be flying, but if you're facing an Exmoor headwind, it will probably still feel quite hard work! (6 mph at 500 watts was not my favourite day on this route!)