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Two day weekend tour North Wessex Downs

This 2 day tour covers approximately 70 miles.

This is a 2 day weekend tour starting in the Berkshire town of Hungerford, with an overnight stop in the Wiltshire market town of Marlborough, before heading back to Hungerford on day 2.

On this tour you will explore a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stop at a world famous UNESCO heritage stone circle, visit a biological and geological site of Special Scientific interest, and enjoy views from two of the highest points in Wiltshire and Berkshire…not to mention stay overnight in one of the most picturesque market towns in England.

Overview and highlights

We aim to be leaving Hungerford by 09:30. From Hungerford we head out towards the small hamlet Little Bedwyn. Immediately we are cycling through the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Between Hungerford and Little Bedwyn (as we follow the route of the Kennet and Avon canal) we cross from Berkshire to Wiltshire. From Little Bedwyn we head towards Great Bedwyn via Chisbury and Chisbury camp.


Kennet and Avon canal at Great Bedwyn

Only a couple of miles outside Great Bedwyn we pass by the Crofton Beam Engines and its here that we stop for our morning refreshments. From Crofton we had deeper into the Wiltshire country lanes, passing through the villages of Burbage and Wotton Rivers before climbing up to admire the views from the top of Martinsell Hill (the third highest point in Wiltshire, at some 289 m / 948 ft above sea level.) – and yes – you can get off and push.


Martinsell Hill


The view from Martinsell Hill

After admiring the views and some lunch we head onwards to skirt alongside the Marlborough West Woods. We then head on to the village of Lockeridge, where you can stop to look at the Sarcen stones in Lockeridge Dene.


Lockeridge Dene

We then go on through the village of West Overton and on to East Kennet. Here you can take a small diversion to see Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow.

Silbury Hill

We then move on towards Avebury. Getting there means cycling past the West Kennet Avenue. This is an 'avenue', originally of around 100 pairs of prehistoric standing stones.

The West Kennet Avenue

Then it’s on to the world famous Avebury. Here you will have time to look around and take a stroll among the stones. Before leaving Avebury you will have the final refreshment break for the day.

Avebury

Once you have seen all there is to see in Avebury we head into the heart of the Wiltshire downs. Here the route takes you off road for a little while as we climb the downs outside Avebury and cross over the ancient trading route of the Ridgeway. We then pass through the atmospheric Fyfield Down


Grey Wethers in Fyfield Down

Fyfield Down is a 325.3 hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. The down has the best assemblage of large Sarsen stones (known as the Grey Wethers) in England. From Fyfield Down its mostly downhill, with a very (very) short burst along the A4 to your overnight stop in the market town of Marlborough. Here the things to see and explore include one of the widest high streets in England, Marlborough College public school, and the supposed burial site of Merlin.


Marlborough high street

We aim to have you in Marlborough around late afternoon or maybe very early evening. We will take your luggage to your chosen overnight accommodation.

On day 2 we aim to be on the road by 09:15. Leaving Marlborough we head out along the picturesque Kennet valley. It feels a bit like going back to the 1950s. We skirt pass the small hamlet of Stitchcombe, and Stitchcombe weir – for those that are keen this is a popular place for wild swimming!

Stitchcombe

For the next few miles we ride close to the River Kennet.


River Kennet

Its then on through the village of Axford and onto the very attractive large village of Ramsbury. From Ramsbury we diverge from the course of the River Kennet. As we travel though the back lanes and byways, we stop for morning refreshments and cross from Wiltshire into Berkshire. After the break it’s more picturesque valleys and back lanes and byways as we head through Hungerford Newtown and onto Kintbury.

From Kintbury it’s onwards through Inkpen Common and upwards to Combe Gibbet. Combe Gibbet is a gibbet at the top of Gallows Down.


Combe Gibbet

A bit like yesterday and Martinsell Hill there is no denying that this is a bit of a climb. It is very much a ‘pusher’ to get to the top. But your reward is a fantastic view.  For those with the energy Walbury Hill (the highest point in South East England) is just a short walk away a little further to the east.

Taking time to admire the views it’s here that we have our lunch stop.


Downhill all the way!

Now you get your reward for that climb to the top - it’s downhill – well at least for a whileJ. We head off through the village of Ham, before crossing the A338 and heading though the back lanes to Little Bedwyn (which we passed through yesterday morning). From there it’s a short and enjoyable ride back alongside the Kennet and Avon canal into Hungerford and the end of your tour. The finishing time on day 2 is going to be somewhere around mid to late afternoon.