Stonehenge, White Horses, Britain’s best towpath rides, mystic ancient barrows and crop circles – and Swindon: Wiltshire has an unmatched range of must-sees to explore by bike, all set among quite beautiful chalk hills, valleys and country lanes.
Start in Salisbury, with its fine cathedral and its close. Cycle via an old drover’s road up to remote Normanton Down: Stonehenge reveals itself dramatically. Cyclists in the know, though, prefer the village of Avebury, whose ancient stone circle is more accessible and more fun to visit. The Wylye Valley route from Salisbury to Bath (NCN24) passes through typically fabulous valley scenery; the circular 160-mile Wiltshire Cycleway showcases the county, right up to historic Malmesbury in the Cotswolds.
For mountain bikers Avebury, is the start of the Ridgeway, the renowned chalk lane that heads west across England; the first 42 miles are a cycle treat. Another good MTB day or two out is to take an OS map visit all eight Wiltshire White Horses, huge chalk figures cut into the hills in the hills rolling northeast from Westbury (home of the grandest). Exploring the mystic ancient burial barrows and speculative crop-circle country round here makes a great road or off-road tour.
The Kennet and Avon canal, running east from Bath, offers England’s best towpath cycling experience (NCN4). It runs smoothly to Italianate Bradford-on-Avon through unmatched scenery, and into Devizes you have the astounding staircase of nearly 30 locks at Caen Hill, a world canal marvel. All great for families, particularly the Bath-Bradford leg.
And when you need large town facilities, Swindon has three decent local 7-mile leisure routes. Cycling its notorious six-gyratory ‘Magic Roundabout’ is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – as in, ‘never again’.