The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

Wiltshire Downs Adventure Race


Course Conditions

Information about the course area and its condition for the adventure race on Saturday 11 July 2015


Special Notes

If you follow us on FacebookTwitter you will know from our recent recces that some of the public rights of way around Pewsey are very overgrown in places. This isn't entirely unexpected at this time of year, but for whatever reason they are worse than ever this year. We have therefore had to change the course significantly as some public rights of way that we have used for previous events (and as recently as last Autumn) are now so bad they are like an impenetrable jungle in places. With this in mind we have highlighted on the course map the off-road routes (public rights-of-way) we recommend you use to visit checkpoints. The condition of these highlighted routes varies widely but all are passable with care - on the whole they are clear but expect to encounter long grass along one or two. The criteria which links all the highlighted routes is that we ran / rode along all of them last week and cut back brambles (before/after) / cleared nettles (before/after) where they impeded our progress. However given how quickly things can grow and how nettles growing by the side of paths can wilt and lean across them, we strongly recommend that you wear long calf-length socks and carry full length leg cover with you just in case e.g. a lightweight pair of waterproof trousers that you can easily slip on and off. Some of the nettles were taller than us (over 6ft high in places) so carrying a long sleeve top as well (e.g. a lightweight windproof shell) might be a good idea. You may also want to consider wearing full finger gloves when mountain biking to protect your hands on some of the narrower bridleways. As mentioned previously, the vast majority of the highlighted routes are free from long vegetation but it doesn't take many nettles to cause severe irritation so best to be prepared just in case.

There are livestock in some of the fields and on the Downs so please make sure you shut all gates and properly fasten them behind you. For your safety, please try not to disturb the livestock. Proceed with caution around livestock where present. Do not run. Do not get in between the cows and their calves.

Some routes are well signed so look out for these signs to help you. Others are not signed at all so you will need to read the map carefully.


Trail Run

During the Trail Run you must stick to public rights of way. The nature of the trails varies widely and the canal towpath is no exception - some sections are a wide smooth all weather surface whilst others are narrow and very uneven. On the whole the trails are either bare earth or covered in grass - mostly short grass but their is also some long wild grass along one or two.

You should not cut across open access land or open grassland - please remain on formed pathstracks at all times.

The ground is generally firm but there are one or two soft muddy trails in amongst the trees / woods (where they take longer to dry out) and there are some short, steep grassy sections which can be slippery when wet. Also water seeps from the ground in a couple of places. Trail shoes with a decent tread are therefore recommended.

Most of the Trail Run takes place off road but there are one or two short sections where you will be on the road / pavement. You are not allowed to walk/run along the A-roads for any significant distance (for more than 250m at a time), you may only cross the A-roads at various places shown on your map (some crossings are dog legged hence why you are allowed to walk/run along A-roads for upto 250m at a time).


Mountain Biking

Bikes are only permitted on roads, byways and bridleways. The byways range from well maintained gravel tracks through to semi-overgrown routes, 4x4 tracks etched in the marl and rutted farm tracks. Take care when cycling through the long grass on some routes as it hides the deep ruts which will through you off balance.

Similarly the bridleways vary widely from hard wide gravel surfaces at one end of the spectrum to softer narrow semi-overgrown trails at the other. Surfaces are uneven in places with tree roots and other debris covering them.

The byways and bridleways are on the whole firm and generally provide a good hard surface on which to ride. There are one or two wet and muddy patches in amongst the trees / woods where the tracks don't ever seem to dry out and other sections become quite soft and claggy after a heavy downpour. But on the whole the off road sections are quite fast.

The terrain varies widely and includes some busy roads and narrow lanes. Take care. Always expect to find oncoming traffic around the next corner. Moderate your speed on steep descents. Keep within your technical riding capabilities. It's much safer to dismount if you are uncertain. One thing you shouldn't have to worry about though is what this road sign is warning of.



The kayaking takes place on the Kennet & Avon canal.

Access to the water is via the side of the wharf. It is quite a long way down to the water so we advise you use the single low step down near the road bridge. The best way to get on the water is to sit on the side of the wharf / low step, put your feet on the kayak (which is on the water) and swivel your bum round and down onto the middle of the kayak, keeping your weight low so you don't unbalance it.

Once on the water, there is no need to get off until you have finished kayaking - all the kayak checkpoints can be reached from your kayak and there are no portages around locks etc.



View all the photos taken on recent recce's showing different parts of the course here


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