Alton Water is one of my favourite destinations on my bike. Not only is the circuit around it great, especially for families, but you can get there by bike too with some good sections off-road. This route via Belstead and Bentley includes a challenging wooded section that can be very muddy when wet. This route is good for Gravel, Hybrid and Mountain bikes. When wet, tyres need to be able to cope with mud. It is part of a series of training rides – this one adds some hills to a similarly distanced previous ride.
This ride in Suffolk is a loop of about 25 miles to Alton Water. Including the route around the reservoir has about 10 miles off-road . I love that you can ride off-road from Ipswich to such a beautiful location. No car required: two wheels definitely better! The soil is generally sandy but the wooded areas can be both muddy and chewed by horses & motor vehicles. Leaving Ipswich includes a couple of climbs and there are a couple around the reservoir too, so about 600ft of ascent overall. There is a bit of disagreement about rights of way between Open Cycle Map and Ordnance survey Landranger, so I’ll report back on the lie of the land after the ride.
Photo Credit: Andrew Hill / Alton Water / CC BY-SA 2.0
Alton Water Ride Report
December continues wet and this ride was muddy. Many slips with 40mm Land Cruiser tyres but only one fall into soft mud. By the time I got home (after 40km/25 miles) I was caked in a thick textured layer of “brown artex”! The mud is seriously hard work in Old Hall Wood even on a gentle gradient. There is a stretch of footpath, but it’s a vehicle track, so no harm done in riding it. There were no stiles and I didn’t notice gates. We rode the reverse of the route, but the climb out from Belstead is a long drag, great fun to whizz down!
Although I started with well-adjusted cable disk brakes, by the end, the gritty mud had worn so much away they were pretty poor and I’d barely used them out of town. H rode his electric bike which was amazing. He powered through the worst mud with ease and his mudguards didn’t clog but did protect him – very impressive.