Chew Valley Mixed Bag Marathon - Friday Route Recommendation

A gorgeous route across a whole variety of terrain in the Mendips that is sure to prove a challenge

Chew Valley Mixed Bag Marathon - Friday Route Recommendation

Distance: 42.3km
Elevation Gain: 742m
Type: Mainly country lanes with a large technical trail section in the middle
Route Link: Strava Link

This is the route I wrote about failing on miserably, before returning to try again a month later.

It's a toughie, notably due to the large climb and trail segment in the middle around Blagdon, along with another jump in elevation towards the end.

However the immense beauty of the area is well worth the extra strain; this route takes you from the edges of the lakes right up to views over the whole of Chew Valley from the highest point in the Mendips.

Stage 1: Twin Lakes

Starting in Bishop Sutton, the route goes north along the eastern side of Chew Valley lake, through the light trails along the water, before crossing the bridge at the top of the lake into Chew Stoke Village

Chew Valley Lake from the Bridge

From there it runs down the western side of the lake then cuts across country lanes towards Blagdon Lake

Lanes leading to the second lake
View over Blagdon Lake

At Blagdon Lake the route leads down an old rocky road into woodland, then follows the top of the lake around to a bridge leading into Blagdon Village.

Blagdon Lake in the morning sun

On reaching Blagdon Village we enter the next, and much trickier section of the marathon.

Stage 2: Black Down Climb

Here's the bit where it tests you; from Blagdon Lake to the top of Black Down (the highest point in the Mendips) is an almost 300 meter climb, starting with a steep section through the village, then a flat farm track leading to trails and this sign post.

The start of even more climbing

After this we enter Black Down proper, after a short climb there's a cracking trail section leading along the bottom of the moors leading over streams, through mud, rocks & roots, before reaching the final clamber up to the Beacon.

If you are lucky you may see Wild Ponies on top of the moors, if you are unlucky the mist will be thick and you'll see very little at all!

This is definitely the cruellest part of the route, as this monument only marks the half way point of the marathon, and leads us on to the next segment

Stage 3: Down to Velvet Bottom

Thankfully it's mainly downhill for the next section, from the Beacon it's a fun gradual descent before crossing some fields and reaching the Black Rock path, before cutting off immediately into Velvet Bottom, a beautiful grassy patch that leads through to Charterhouse.

Woodland before Velvet Bottom
Entrance to Velvet Bottom

We follow the trail until it reaches a long winding country lane leading back towards Harptree.

Last of the trails before the country lanes

From here out it's quiet undulating lanes leading east for the next segment.

Stage 4: Why Is There Another Climb?

Coming into Hinton Blewett at the 37km mark there is a final 100m climb just to really put the pressure on.

It's worth it though, as at the top is a viewpoint overlooking Chew Valley Lake and the surrounding countryside.

Viewpoint over Chew Valley Lake

From here out, we continue downhill all the way back to Bishop Sutton for a well deserved rest.

This route has some bittersweet memories for me, but ultimately it is now my favourite by far for the combination of fantastic sights, variety of landscape and the sheer epic feel of completing it.