The pandemic may have altered our demand for foreign travel but has not diminished our appetite for adventure.
Luckily, there’s no need to head overseas to take on the latest and greatest outdoors challenge.
An exciting new 350-kilometre circular trail was launched this August, knitting together ancient bridleways and 10,000 years’ worth of English history.
National charity Cycling UK launched its new off-road adventure route combining gravel tracks, bridleways, byways and off-road trails through the heart of Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire countryside.
The UK has 15 national trails, only two of which are accessible to cyclists. The charity’s long-term goal is to create a network of long-distance routes across England.
Tying up these routes into one trail isn’t just good for cyclists though. This promises to be a great route for hikers and walkers to explore!
The charity said it has spent several years developing the route, not only in terms of mapping it out but also upgrading certain sections of existing footpaths to allow for cycling.
The new route has been named King Alfred’s Way, after the Anglo-Saxon ruler of the ancient kingdom of Wessex.
It is under the statue of King Alfred on High Street,Winchester, in Hampshire that the ride officially starts and finishes.
That said, because of its circular nature, riders can choose any start/end point they like.
The route passes within one hour’s journey for 17 million people in the region, making it the perfect staycation. Riders can choose to complete it in its entirety or take on subsections.
Railway stations en route – including Winchester, Salisbury, Swindon, Reading, Farnham and Petersfield – offer flexibility for those who want to complete it in multiple single-day excursions.
This makes it the perfect adventure for those who want test themselves without committing to almost a week’s worth of riding.
Averaging around 70 kilometres per day, the journey will take riders five days but can be completed in as little as two.
The way promises challenging riding through a constantly-changing landscape. Whether it’s rolling hills, arable fields, wooded forests or sandy heathlands, there’s something for everyone.
Iconic locations linked up by King Alfred’s Way include World Heritage Sites at Stonehenge and Avebury and Iron Age hill forts at Old Sarum and Barbury Castle.
Sillbury Hill, Salisbury Cathedral and the Devil’s Punch Bowl are other highlights, and in summer you can even cool off with a dip in the Avon and/or the Thames.
Though not signposted, the accompanying guide is thorough and available from Cycling UK as a free download or a £14 book. Used alongside phone GPS, anyone can navigate their way around the trail.
King Alfred’s Way follows the launch of the 800-mile Great North Trail in 2019, and the riders’ route for the North Downs Way in 2018.
For a quintessential English adventure that will take you through stone circles, past thatched cottages, sprawling green countryside and plenty of pub garden opportunities, this is just the ticket.
Charlotte walks anywhere and everywhere she can. Although she hasn’t ticked off as many official routes as she’d like, she has walked her way around large parts of Latin America, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Bucket list routes: