Six of the best UK gravel bike events you'll want to ride in 2023

Gravel adventure riding in Lake District
(Image credit: Paul Brett)

We've found some of the best gravel events for 2023, and if you want to develop your love of gravel riding, or try some gravel racing, even travel to some of the more remote areas of the UK. Read on and be part of the awesome UK gravel community.

There are many choices available, including fully supported, timed, and numbered events as well as others that are self sufficient and remote. Decide what path you want to take, and prepare your best gravel bike for your own adventure in 2023.

Gravel riders at the Top of the Rock gravel event

Top of the Rock has riding gravel for everyone (Image credit: Sutton Bank Bikes)

Top of the Rock

Few other gravel events can claim to have as spectacular a base as Sutton Bank which sits at 1000 ft above sea level. It's also the self-proclaimed adventure bike capital of the North York Moors. With its sweeping views and commanding cliff edge the approach, the climb up and the vista will leave you breathless and prepare you for the ride ahead. Surrounded by wilderness trails in all directions the hub of the event has the convenience of a cafe, visitor center, skills area, bike wash, surfaced parking and of course a handy Sutton Bank Bikes Store.

The Top of the Rock Gravel Sportive mixes a relaxed and fun ethos with the challenge of trails ranging from smooth and flowing to technically and physically challenging. From rock-strewn gullies to fast gravel singletrack, forest tracks and wide open moorland trails this event has it all, including beautiful but occasionally unpredictable wild weather.

With a choice of three distances, two food and refreshment points and with top brands in attendance offering technical support and demos, Top of the Rock promises to be one of the premier gravel events in the 2023 calendar. Watch our very own Technical Editor, Guy Kesteven riding the event for a taste of what you can expect.

  • When: Sunday 23rd April 2023.
  • Format: Timed, supported over three distance choices.
  • Route: 25km, 50km or 75km. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: From £39 Enter here
  • Navigation: The route is supplied before the event. The course is marked and tracked via GPS.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and e-bikes
  • Terrain: Singletrack, gravel paths, forestry roads.
  • Start: Sutton Bank Visitor Centre, Thirsk.

Gravel riders at the Raiders gravel event

Raiders Gravel promises some true Scottish wilderness gravel racing (Image credit: Raiders Gravel)

Raiders Gravel

After a 2021 false start thanks to covid which resulted in a postponement of their inaugural event. Raiders Gravel was back with a bang in 2022 and delivered a multi-day gravel-riding monster that was hailed as a tremendous success by riders.

Raider's event HQ is based at Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and there are three stages with well over 200km of fully supported gravel riding. Taking place in the jaw-dropping beauty of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, you'll ride deep in the Galloway Forest Park and witness the beauty and natural wonders of a true Scottish wilderness.

Raiders is now open to both individuals and two-rider teams, with entries starting at £185 per person including camping, with a host of various packages including glamping and hotel options. Raiders promises a truly Scottish adventure event and is accompanied by a festival celebration of local culture.

Gravel rider at Raiders gravel event

Raiders has jaw-dropping beauty in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere (Image credit: Raiders Gravel)
  • When: Thursday 31 August to Sunday 3 September 2023.
  • Format: Timed, fully-supported over three stages and three days. 
  • Route: 200km with 23000m of climbing. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: From £185 with various packages Enter here
  • Navigation: The route is supplied before the event. The course is marked and tracked via GPS.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and e-bikes (e-bikes are unranked)
  • Terrain: Singletrack, gravel paths, forestry roads
  • Start: Stage One 2pm in Gatehouse of Fleet

Gravel riders at the Dorset Dash

The Dorset Dash offers some of the finest gravel riding in the UK (Image credit: Markus Stitz)

The Dorset Dash

The Dorset Dirt Dash was one of the first gravel events in the UK and offers two different events on the same route. The Dorset Dirt Dash 50/50 is a self-supported bikepacking event over two days, while the Dorset Dirt Dash 100 is the ultimate one-day gravel grinder. Featuring the rugged beauty of Dorset and the Jurassic Coast, it's the perfect way to experience stunning scenery and some of the finest gravel riding the UK has to offer.

The Dorset Gravel Dash starts and ends in the beer garden of the Red Lion pub in Swanage, Dorset (a stroke of genius) and the reward of a pint or two of their fine selection of real ales and ciders awaits you on completion of this gravel epic.

Gravel rider pushing her bike up hill at Dorset Dash event

With around 2000m of climbing you'll be pushing in places (Image credit: Markus Stitz)
  • When: Saturday 27 May to Sunday 28 May 2023.
  • Format: Non-timed, self-supported with overnight camping.
  • Route: Around 152km with 2000m of climbing. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: £95 Enter here
  • Navigation: The route is supplied electronically before the event. The course is not marked, you are responsible for your own navigation.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes and mountain bikes (e-bikes are allowed), with a minimum recommended tire size of 40mm.
  • Terrain: Singletrack, gravel paths, forestry roads, public roads, cycle paths.
  • Start: 9am at the Red Lion, Swanage.

Gravel riders on the hike a bike sector at Frontier 300

Frontier 300 features a testing hike a bike section (Image credit: Frontier 300)

Frontier 300

Not another Coast to Coast you say!? Yes, the Frontier 300 does stretch from the Irish Sea to the North Sea but the challenge is more about what lies between the shorelines. The ride doesn’t link together iconic roads or tourist haunts, but journeys through remote forest access tracks and gravel sectors to reach the finishing Salsa beach brunch at Druridge Bay.

The Salsa Frontier 300 is not a race but an epic gravel adventure, fully supported from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast of England with riders having the option of doing the event solo or as a pair. In keeping with the route’s adventurous nature, the coast to coast includes a testing hike-a-bike section topping out at 500 meters, although the view and descent may well be worth the effort.

With a start window between 4:15am and 4:45am from Rockcliffe in the Scottish borders, the fires are lit early the evening before with meals being served before your adventure begins. The aim is to reach the closing event for Salsa Brunch on the beach on Sunday morning, where all riders come together, share finishing stories, epic moments, and celebrate their achievements.

Gravel riders on a remote section at the Frontier 300

Frontier 300 is all about what lies between the shorelines (Image credit: Frontier 300)
  • When: Saturday 17 June to Sunday 18 June 2023.
  • Format: Timed, supported with overnight camping.
  • Route: Around 300km with 4,200m of climbing. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: From £125 Enter here
  • Navigation: The route is supplied electronically before the event. The course is marked, you are responsible for your own navigation with marshal support at feeds and key locations.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes and mountain bikes (e-bikes are not allowed), with a minimum recommended tire size of 38mm.
  • Terrain: Singletrack, gravel paths, forestry roads, public roads, cycle paths.
  • Start: From 4.15am in Rockcliffe, Scottish borders.

Views of Welsh mountains during the Cambrian gravel event

Stunning views and gravel goodness at the Cambrian Challenge (Image credit: Cambrian Gravel)

The Cambrian Gravel Challenge

The Cambrian Gravel Challenge is a 180km two-day loop of the Cambrian mountains of Wales. With mileage split evenly over both days, you'll be fully supported in this 90km on-and-off-road adventure in some of the wildest parts of the UK.

Your Welsh gravel adventure begins at Panpunton Farm, Knighton with a choice of breakfasts from on-site street vendors as your fuel for the adventure ahead. The organizers provide you with a packed lunch and will take care of your tent.

After a few kms of tarmac the riding gets serious as you tackle the Goytre Hill, the first ramp is tough and a bit of pushing may be required but the views from the top are well worth the effort, and the remaining day one route becomes less punishing with quiet lanes and long gravel sections as the Trans Cambrian Way threads through the beautiful Welsh countryside with rest and refuel options at Rhayader before traversing the stunning Elan Valley with its Victorian reservoirs.

Day Two is more glorious scenery as you loop north and east back to Knighton. Rest up at one of the myriad viewpoints with the final stretches along Offa’s Dyke walkway back south along the English border before the final descent back into Knighton with finishing dips in the river optional.

Views of Welsh mountains during the Cambrian gravel event

The views will make the 3,500m climbing worthwhile (Image credit: Cambrian Gravel)
  • When: Saturday 29 July to Sunday 30 July 2023.
  • Format: Timed, supported with overnight camping.
  • Route: 180km with 3,500m of climbing. Route subject to changes.
  • Entries: From £145 Enter here
  • Navigation: The route is supplied electronically before the event. The course is not marked, you are responsible for your own navigation with GPS trackers provided.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes and mountain bikes (e-bikes are not allowed).
  • Terrain: Singletrack, gravel paths, forestry roads, public roads, cycle paths.
  • Start: 8am fro Panpunton Farm, Knighton. 

A rider pushing her bike on the Pennine Rally

With over 8,000m of climbing, you'll need to bring your best climbing and pushing legs (Image credit: Rapha)

The Pennine Rally

Saving the biggest and most challenging until last the Pennine Rally is a 500km mud-spattered monster of a ride from Edinburgh to Manchester with over 8,000m of climbing, you'll need to bring your best climbing legs for this beauty. For those brave enough to enter, all manner of adventure awaits on this self-supported, off-road unforgettable ride along Britain’s mountainous backbone.

Starting in Edinburgh, the route heads off the roads almost immediately into the Scottish capital's local riding routes in the Pentland Hills, before winding its way south to take in some of the finest gravel roads, byways, drovers’ roads, and bridleways that the Pennines have to offer. 

With stunning scenery and remote riding along the entire route you'll pass through the Scottish Borders, the North Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales, and the Forest of Bowland before the final approach to Manchester and the haven of the Rapha Clubhouse.

Riders enjoying the test of the Pennine Rally

Glorious gravel is on the menu at the Pennine Rally (Image credit: Rapha)
  • When: Tuesday 6th June - Saturday 10th June 2023
  • Format: Non-timed, self-supported with wild camping.
  • Route: 500km with 8,000m of climbing. 
  • Entries: Open from February 2023 Entry information here
  • Navigation: The route is supplied electronically before the event. The course is not marked, you are responsible for your own navigation with GPS trackers provided.
  • Bikes: Gravel bikes and mountain bikes (e-bikes are not allowed).
  • Terrain: Singletrack, gravel paths, forestry roads, public roads, cycle paths.
  • Start: Gamma Transport, Edinburgh
Paul Brett
Staff writer

Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.

Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm