Uk Divide Route?

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Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:02 pm

Hi,

Probably like a lot of people here, I've been entertaining the idea of the doing the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (or even the Tour Divide) :grin:

But in thinking about it (a lot) I wondered if someone has done the same thing in the UK? It appears from this map https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... heiden.png that the UK geographic watershed runs from NE Scotland to the SE coast of England. That means, with a little jiggery-pokery, and perhaps a slightly fluid use of the term "following the watershed" it could incorporate bits of the Highland 550, the Pennine Bridleway, the Cotswolds, the South Downs Way and probably a bunch of other stuff I don't know the first thing about.

I'm guessing this isn't an original idea. So does anyone have any experience of it?

Cheers! Tom

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by cycleofaddiction » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:18 pm

There's an off road jogle route and there's been an England Wales England bikepacking event but I think any attempts at time trailing the jogle route have failed due to the technical nature of UK bridleways making it such a tough pyshical test of endurance. The fast guy's on the TD would probably finish that race quicker than they would the off road jogle at twice the distance because the TD is mostly backcountry jeep trails !

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by ianfitz » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:21 pm

I've thought about it quite a bit. Would be a good few days ride ;-)

I met a Peter Wright in Scotland a few years ago he wrote some books about the scotish watershed - http://www.ribbonofwildness.co.uk/ and now https://www.facebook.com/Scotland-from- ... 5/?fref=ts

I don't think his walking route would make for a good ride though, bit rough in many places. If people grumbled about the amount of HaB on the 2014 BB200, they ain't seen nothing yet.
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:25 pm

Yeah, I saw the books (I've not read them). Apparently only about 7 people are known to have walked the entirety of the Scottish Watershed, and it's probably damn near impossible with a bike (unless you're a certified masochist).

But I'm willing to bet that with some flexibility in route selection (as there is in the GDMBR, which doesn't exactly follow the continental divide either) it could be doable and vaguely enjoyable.

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by ianfitz » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:34 pm

Catbaiter wrote:Yeah, I saw the books (I've not read them). Apparently only about 7 people are known to have walked the entirety of the Scottish Watershed, and it's probably damn near impossible with a bike (unless you're a certified masochist).

But I'm willing to bet that with some flexibility in route selection (as there is in the GDMBR, which doesn't exactly follow the continental divide either) it could be doable and vaguely enjoyable.
absolutely could be, I guess we lack the network of gravel roads which the TD has a lot of. Clearly would be a different type of route, but could be a good 'un.

I'm sure we could crowd source it between us here :-bd
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:39 pm

Well, if no-one has actually come up with a route yet, then the combined experience of this forum ought to be just the place to do it! If we start with the list I gave (HT550, Pennine B/W, Cotswold Escarpment, South Downs Way) then it's a case of gluing them together with good locally known routes. But it would have to generally follow the route shown in the link I gave in the first post (not LEJOG).

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by ScotRoutes » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:13 pm

ianfitz wrote:I've thought about it quite a bit. Would be a good few days ride ;-)

I met a Peter Wright in Scotland a few years ago he wrote some books about the scotish watershed - http://www.ribbonofwildness.co.uk/ and now https://www.facebook.com/Scotland-from- ... 5/?fref=ts
The guy is a fraud. He was making a lot of claims about being the first to walk the Scottish watershed but it had already been done (and documented) 16 years earlier by Dave Hewitt of The Angry Corrie. :grin: :grin:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-Watersh ... 0952268019

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by ianfitz » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:21 pm

Catbaiter wrote:Well, if no-one has actually come up with a route yet, then the combined experience of this forum ought to be just the place to do it! If we start with the list I gave (HT550, Pennine B/W, Cotswold Escarpment, South Downs Way) then it's a case of gluing them together with good locally known routes. But it would have to generally follow the route shown in the link I gave in the first post (not LEJOG).
Do you have a more detailed map of the UK water shed? its not so clear on that german map. Thinking about it I know a tame Geography teacher! (sorry Mark!)

Also there is a watershed running through cornwall, devon etc to join up with the other. does the south east have better riding than the west country? Thats a decision to be made.

does the route look to stay as close to the line as possible or deviate to take in quality riding? By how much? Plus, its a real shame about Wales!
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by whitestone » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:26 pm

From the look of that German map it looks like the line is between seas so I suppose it depends where you think the Atlantic ends and the North Sea begins.
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by ScotRoutes » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:40 pm

Wylie wrapped up his trip in June 2009, by which time Wright had completed his Scottish walk. A couple of aspects relating to Wright’s effort have prompted unease, one being his assertion that the Duncansby end-point is the proper one, whereas Cape Wrath is not. My view was and continues to be that, because the route splits (or merges, if heading south), the main east-west watershed ends north of Loch Merkland, at a height of just over 750m on the western shoulder of a Corbett outlier called Carn Dearg. Beyond that, either continuation is equally valid. Actually, I agree with my friend Richard Webb – who gave thought to the watershed earlier than any of us – when he says that all the north-coast mini-watersheds are viable starts/finishes. Hence not just Wrath and Duncansby, but also Whiten Head, Strathy Point, etc.

Wright also went through a phase of claiming to have been the first to have walked the watershed and – even more absurdly – to have been the first to come up with the idea (eg, in 2011, he wrote of “the originality in my defining the Watershed for the very first time”). There is discussion of this elsewhere but basically he was at least the fifth person known to have undertaken the route in some form or other (and the second on the Duncansby branch, after Wylie, who finished the Scottish section in 2000), and goodness knows how many more might have given it some thought and map-perusal. There is mention of the whole-UK version in Martin Moran’s 1986 winter Munros book, for instance, with the accomplished hill runner Martin Stone describing it as “the last great challenge”.
And many more thoughts on the whole subject here; http://www.munros-scotland.com/dave-hew ... rshed.html

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:53 pm

I can see the lid coming off a highly entertaining can of worms here! :-bd

To tackle the q's in no particular order.

In my view (and it's not an especially important view), the divide is between oceans/seas. As such the east/west North Sea/Atlantic takes precedence over the north/south English Channel/Bristol Channel of Cornwall and Devon. Plus, it differentiates the route from lejog. For the purposes of what I'm thinking, the English Channel counts as the Atlantic, not the North Sea (pedants or those who know better, feel free to argue the point). I'm unsure about the same division in Scotland, and it seems there there has historically been some debate on this. A bit of research ought to clear it up. It'd be good not to have it as JOG though, just to be different.

The route should deviate to allow for good riding, but only to a reasonable level. That is; if the watershed is the Pennines for example, then we keep the deviation to the same mountain range. And if possible cross the divide a few times.

I don't have a better map at present. But I'm pretty sure that an evening spent with a relief/rivers map of the UK ought to give us the basics upon which to work. Feel free to drag any tame experts into the mix. I'm only a geologist, and as such easily outwitted by anything modern (less than a few million years old).

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by ianfitz » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:12 pm

Catbaiter wrote:I can see the lid coming off a highly entertaining can of worms here! :-bd

To tackle the q's in no particular order.

In my view (and it's not an especially important view), the divide is between oceans/seas. As such the east/west North Sea/Atlantic takes precedence over the north/south English Channel/Bristol Channel of Cornwall and Devon. Plus, it differentiates the route from lejog. For the purposes of what I'm thinking, the English Channel counts as the Atlantic, not the North Sea (pedants or those who know better, feel free to argue the point). I'm unsure about the same division in Scotland, and it seems there there has historically been some debate on this. A bit of research ought to clear it up. It'd be good not to have it as JOG though, just to be different.

The route should deviate to allow for good riding, but only to a reasonable level. That is; if the watershed is the Pennines for example, then we keep the deviation to the same mountain range. And if possible cross the divide a few times.

I don't have a better map at present. But I'm pretty sure that an evening spent with a relief/rivers map of the UK ought to give us the basics upon which to work. Feel free to drag any tame experts into the mix. I'm only a geologist, and as such easily outwitted by anything modern (less than a few million years old).
Thats a good point about it being an east/west watershed. Hastings it is then :-bd

Also a good point about differentiating from LEJOG. Dunnet bay is a really beautiful place and would make a fine end point to any ride
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:16 pm


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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by ianfitz » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:30 pm

this version of the scottish WS finished at cape wrath...

http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/hewwat/hewwat0003.htm


And a test of your scottish river naming ability - http://lizardpoint.com/geography/scotla ... s-quiz.php :grin:
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by whitestone » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:25 am

ianfitz wrote:this version of the scottish WS finished at cape wrath...

http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/hewwat/hewwat0003.htm


And a test of your scottish river naming ability - http://lizardpoint.com/geography/scotla ... s-quiz.php :grin:
Hmm, 36 out of 42

Surprising that the watershed in the Highlands is so far west.

The Pennine Bridleway should suffice for the middle bit then lanes from Kirkby Stephen to join the BW over Cross Fell and follow your Northern 1000 route as far as the Scottish border. I've absolutely no idea about the southern part of England, I rarely venture that far.
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:19 am

ianfitz wrote:this version of the scottish WS finished at cape wrath...

http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/hewwat/hewwat0003.htm


And a test of your scottish river naming ability - http://lizardpoint.com/geography/scotla ... s-quiz.php :grin:
I saw this one and thought it looked like a good basis for the Scottish end. I guess overlaying the HT550 and seeing how much of it lines up would be a useful task.
whitestone wrote:The Pennine Bridleway should suffice for the middle bit then lanes from Kirkby Stephen to join the BW over Cross Fell and follow your Northern 1000 route as far as the Scottish border. I've absolutely no idea about the southern part of England, I rarely venture that far.
I've got a fair idea about the Cotswolds, plus the South Downs is a given. Looking at the rivers map, the route from the Pennine BW would have us skirt the western edge of the Peak District into the flat land between Stoke and Shrewsbury, before taking an exceedingly convoluted route from Telford (ish) to Kiddi, skirting Redditch, Warwick and Coventry before swinging back to the SW and heading along the Limestone escarpment of the Cotswolds.

Proud as I am of coming from the Midlands; this section looks to be about as much fun at Botulism, and freedom to exercise a little artistic merit might be in order? Perhaps bypassing the Avon loop and following the high ground to the west of the Severn, over the Malverns and joining the Cotswolds at Cheltenham? Though I confess just typing that felt a bit like cheating.

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:48 am

its a real shame about Wales!
I started mapping out the Welsh watershed a couple of years ago ... the amount of rivers makes things quite interesting, especially if you're trying to be as accurate / true as possible.
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Zippy » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:07 am

Sorry, I've only been skimming this thread.

Can I just check what the term 'watershed' means? In my mind from the context, it's where rivers from the East, and rivers from the West form a divide if you follow them back to their source?
Bearbonesnorm wrote:
its a real shame about Wales!
I started mapping out the Welsh watershed a couple of years ago ... the amount of rivers makes things quite interesting, especially if you're trying to be as accurate / true as possible.
I'm pretty sure you can download quite a lot of that information in a GIS format (rivers). From that, you should be able to write/use a script to plot the watershed - a bit like a contour. It's a bit beyond my current skillset - but I remember someone on here could speak GIS far better than me....we might be able to make the computer do the hard work.

If I've understood the term watershed correctly that is...

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:08 am

Bearbonesnorm wrote:
its a real shame about Wales!
I started mapping out the Welsh watershed a couple of years ago ... the amount of rivers makes things quite interesting, especially if you're trying to be as accurate / true as possible.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... .lakes.jpg

That looks like fun too! Though it looks broadly similar to the Lon Las Cymru (with the Chepstow variation). After doing the road route in <30hrs a couple of years ago, I wasted quite a few hours trying to work out how much of it could be made into an off-road route. I never finished the task.

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:14 am

Can I just check what the term 'watershed' means? In my mind from the context, it's where rivers from the East, and rivers from the West form a divide if you follow them back to their source?
That's pretty much it Zippy. Some rivers go east, some west and what's between them is your route.

EDIT:
the Lon Las Cymru
Yes but that's a pretty dull route if ever there was one. I'm certainly not saying there aren't some nice bits but they're far outweighed by the not so nice ones.
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Catbaiter » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:24 am

Bearbonesnorm wrote:Yes but that's a pretty dull route if ever there was one. I'm certainly not saying there aren't some nice bits but they're far outweighed by the not so nice ones.
I liked it. :oops:

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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by GregMay » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:26 am

Interesting concept.

A chunk of the route may be possible from the EWE route too - down south it may be worth having a chat with Aidan.
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by whitestone » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:32 am

In some areas the watershed is very vague - the Flow country in Caithness for example could change from day to day depending on the level of the water. Unless you are in to very boggy HaB then probably best avoided :oops:
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:51 am

Bearbonesnorm wrote:
Yes but that's a pretty dull route if ever there was one. I'm certainly not saying there aren't some nice bits but they're far outweighed by the not so nice ones.


I liked it. :oops:
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Re: Uk Divide Route?

Post by mjsmart » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:58 am

Chris Townsend walked the Scottish watershed in 2013 and has quite a few blog posts about it.

http://www.christownsendoutdoors.com/20 ... tland.html

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