Cycle Britain

Tour Overview.

What comes to mind when you picture South England? Densely-populated towns and cities? London’s grey sprawl? How about a 350-kilometre

The King Alfred’s Way passes within an hour of home for 17 million people… but you wouldn’t know it! The route twists and turns through woodland and over rolling hills as it connects four National Trails: The South Down’s Way, the North Down’s Way, the Ridgeway and the Thames Path. This is a chance to radically transform how you see South England, and enjoy an exhilarating doorstep adventure.

Pristine nature is only the first of many surprises. The trail shocks and startles throughout. You’ll traverse 10,000 years of history, from Winchester – burial place of King Alfred – to prehistoric icons like Stonehenge and Avebury, to Iron Age hill forts, Roman settlements and medieval castles. This part of the country has been shaped and reshaped by those who came before us.

Perhaps the best part of the trail is its glorious rejection of roads. It abandons tarmac in favour of gravel and dirt. It swaps the speed of asphalt for the joy of off-road. Bounce over woodland ruts, canal towpaths and grassy bridleways, and you’ll see: this is countryside designed for two wheels. You don’t need to be an experienced mountain biker to tackle this route, though. There are a few technical climbs and descents – even a river to ford! – where beginners may have to push, but the majority is suitable for all cyclists with good fitness. Our tour guides are experienced  and can coach and improve your technique.

Cycle Britain

220 miles / 3 Days

This three-day itinerary takes advantage of the stunning countryside to enjoy the freedom of wild camping. Tucked up in your tent listening to the wind purr through forest or watching the sun set behind an ocean of rolling hills; that is to fully escape the hustle and bustle of South England and to discover a timeless landscape that will live long in your memory.

Although the King Alfred’s Way is a real off-road adventure, the support of our expert guides ensures the challenge is available even to those cyclists who have never bikepacked before. Under their coaching and guidance, you will learn skills and techniques about gravel cycling, wild camping, and packing for a bike tour. By the end of the three days, you should feel confident to embark on your own bikepacking trips!

This tour is fully supported. While our guide leads you along the route and shares stories that bring each day’s riding to life, our support van and driver works hard behind-the-scenes to wash the stress away. They will carry your bags, distribute snacks and help with any repairs.

We have reduced our group size to 12 riders for this trip. This maintains the sensation that you have left the hustle and bustle behind and are cycling and camping through somewhere truly wild. It also allows a closer connection between the group and the guide, to enable you to have personalised training and a richer, more intimate experience.

Tour Highlights.

  • ‘The richest prehistoric landscape in the world.’ – Stonehenge, Avebury, Old Sarum.
  • 220 miles of mostly off-road riding within one hour of London.
  • Cycling atop The Ridgeway, a 5,000-year-old trading route punctuated by Iron Age forts and with panoramic views.
  • Pedalling beside the River Thames and stopping in riverside cafes.
  • The sharp climbs and exhilarating descents of the South Down’s Way.
  • Two nights of spectacular wild camping.
  • The satisfaction of riding the King Alfred’s Way.
  • Making new friends and enjoying the camaraderie of riding in a group of 12.
  • Exceptional service that exceeds your expectations.
  • The support and coaching of our expert guides.
  • Full vehicle support. We'll carry your bags, distribute food and assist with repairs.
  • Two nights of cooked dinners at sunset.

Summary of the Tour.

  1. Winchester to Overtown (74.2 miles)

    Start from Winchester’s medieval Westgate and immediately plunge along bridleways into beautiful Hampshire countryside. Heading west, you’ll cross the trickling River Test and tackle several short, sharp climbs in this chalky landscape. Your efforts are rewarded with what Cycling UK claims is ‘the richest prehistoric landscape in the world’. Old Sarum was an Iron Age Hill Fort, then a Roman settlement and finally a Norman Castle. Stonehenge is one of England’s proudest icons, while nearby Avebury has the largest stone circle in the world. You ride across the Salisbury Plain Military Training Area and then climb up onto the Ridgeway to enjoy panoramic cycling and to find a wild camping spot with a view!

  2. Overtown to Ewshot (77.4 miles)

    The Ridgeway Cycle route unfolds for miles of gravel tracks and worn grassy verges, all the while showcasing extensive views over a green and tranquil landscape. Cycling the Ridgeway is to follow the footsteps of a 5,000-year-old trading route that took the higher ground to avoid lowland bogs. This historical route explains the many Iron Age forts you pass. Perched atop this high ground either means soaking up the good weather or battling against wind and rain; either way, you can’t help but feel alive and immersed in your surroundings. Near Uffington you pass the famous, hillside-etched chalk horse, and then you drop to the River Thames near Goring. Everything changes beside the Thames; stop at charming riverside cafes, admire posh and princely houses and cycle beside the river (which is surprisingly steep and hilly!). Reading offers a chance to resupply. Despite its large population, it is simple to navigate through, and soon you are back on quiet tracks. You’ll camp tonight in the dense woodland near Ewshot.

  3. Ewshot to Winchester (70.5 miles)

    After breaking camp, there’s a tough climb out of Ewshot, before a gentler section through pine forest and towards Farnham Castle, a classic example of a motte-and-bailey. This stretch through leafy Surrey is one of the busiest sections of the tour, however the route wends its way southwards managing to stick to quieter sections. The riding becomes increasingly tricky near Frensham Common, as you ride along sandy trails and up tough, technical climbs. This is often a highlight of the entire trip. You’re close enough to see the distant skyscrapers of London, but much closer and seemingly-significant are the trails cutting through moorland and heathland, and spectacular views over the shimmering Frensham ponds. For the final stretch back to Winchester the King Alfred’s Way joins the South Down’s Way which, for much of its duration, stretches across ridgelines, but also demands the steepest climbs of the trip. The grassy track up Butser Hill will test even the strongest legs on this final day. Savour the final off-road miles, before striking back into the heart of Winchester. It’s only three days since you left, but you’ve navigated 10,000 years of history and 350 kilometres of mostly-off-road riding!

Itinerary.

Over three days we tackle 220 miles (350 kilometres) of mostly off-road riding through some of South England’s prettiest and most surprising landscapes. The loop ride starts and finishes in Winchester, just one hour from London.  

On the first day, you will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group by Winchester Cathedral and then set off along bridleways and gravel tracks. History buffs will love this first day as we pass Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Avebury. The best scenery comes towards the end of the day as we climb up onto the Ridgeway, a 5,000-year-old trading route, and enjoy a few miles of panoramic cycling before setting up camp. 

The second morning continues along the Ridgeway, passing Iron Age forts and with the tranquil textures of England unfolding before you. This is exhilarating riding that feels more airy than its modest elevation should allow! Everything changes as you drop from the Ridgeway and down to England’s most famous river, the Thames. You’ll pedal on a surprisingly-hilly riverside trail but enjoy numerous opportunities to stop for a coffee and a cake. From Reading, the river continues sliding towards London, as if pulled magnetically, but the King Alfred’s Way veers south and plunges back into gorgeous countryside. Our second night is spent camping in the woodland near Ewshot. 

The third and final day is the toughest, but also the most rewarding. Sandy trails and steep, technical climbs pull you up onto Frensham Common, from where the skyscrapers of London seem wonderfully-distant and provide a backdrop to the heathland and shimmering ponds. The steepest climbs of all are reserved for the final section along the South Down’s Way ensuring your legs will be leaden by the time you return to Winchester. Congratulations on completing the King Alfred’s Way! If you have time why not stay in Winchester for a night before returning home? 

Dates and Prices.

  • 7th May -
    9th May 2021
    £350
  • 2nd July -
    4th July 2021
    £350
  • 27th August -
    29th August 2021
    £350
  • 3rd September -
    5th September 2021
    £350

Route.

All our routes are available to our Komoot followers.  Follow Cycle Britain on Komoot.

What’s Included.

Expert Staff

Our guides know the route well and are experienced bikepackers. They are available to support your trip throughout

Route Plans

We are an official Komoot partner. Our full route notes will become available as soon as you are booked onto a tour.

Unrivalled knowledge of cycling in Britain

We pride ourselves on being the experts on cycling in Britain.

Free nutrition, training and bike setup guides

To help you prepare for this demanding tour, we provide information on what to eat, how to train, and how to setup your bike.

Accommodation

We have arranged two nights of wild camping, with express permission from the landowner for use by Cycle Britain.

Food

We take the stress away by providing breakfasts, lunches, dinners. All you have to bring is your snack of choice.

Full Vehicle Support

Our support vehicle and driver work hard behind-the-scenes. They carry your bags, prepare lunch and distribute snacks, and assist with any medical and mechanical problems.

What’s Not Included.

Bike and helmet

Please provide your own bike and helmet. Get in touch if you have any questions regarding whether your equipment is appropriate.

Camping Equipment

Please bring a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat. Get in touch if you do not have a piece of equipment; we can rent spares for a small fee.

Transport to/from Winchester

This tour starts and finished in Winchester. It is easily-accessible by car or train from London.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend you purchase travel insurance.

Winchester Accommodation

If you wish to stay in Winchester the night before or after the trip, we would be glad to assist with this.

Accommodation.

This three-day itinerary takes advantage of the stunning countryside to enjoy the freedom of wild camping. We have secured exclusive permission for our wild camp spots. Tucked up in your tent listening to the wind purr through the forest or watching the sun set behind an ocean of rolling hills; that is to fully escape the hustle and bustle of South England and to discover a timeless landscape that will live long in your memory.

Don’t worry if you haven’t camped wild before; with the support of our guides, this trip makes a wonderful introduction to it! Our chosen camp spots have express permission from the landowner for use by Cycle Britain.

Trip Suitability.

This is a Grade 4 tour which means it is suitable ‘for those that want a challenge. These routes provide a challenge to complete steep climbs and descents’ and involve ’60 – 100 miles per day’.

This tour unfolds along singletrack trails and gravel paths, ensuring not only your fitness but also your bike handling ability will be tested. We welcome cyclists new to gravel biking, however, as our expert guides will coach you in proper technique.

The average daily distance is 73 miles. Over 3 days, you will climb 11,700 feet (3,500 metres).

Gallery.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What level of fitness do I need?

This is a Grade 4 tour which means it is suitable ‘for those that want a challenge. These routes provide a challenge to complete steep climbs and descents’ and involve ’60 – 100 miles per day’.

What level of ability do I need?

This tour unfolds along singletrack trails and gravel paths, ensuring not only your fitness but also your bike handling ability will be tested. We welcome cyclists new to gravel biking, however, as our expert guides will coach you in proper technique.

What level of support is offered?

This trip has full vehicle support meaning everything you need is taken care of and your bags will be carried. We provide breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. You will be accompanied by one of our expert guides who knows the route well, is a qualified cycling tour leader and has extensive bikepacking experience. We keep our group sizes small so our guides can assist with mechanical problems, lead the route and offer tips on improving gravel cycling technique.

Isn't wild camping illegal?

We have secured express permission by the landowner for use by Cycle Britain. This allows us to camp in wild places without worrying about a midnight wake-up call!