History, chalk, grassland and forest — King Alfred's Way

Katherine Moore

History, chalk, grassland and forest — King Alfred's Way

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore



29:22 h

224 mi

11,850 ft

The newest long distance bikepacking route in the UK (summer 2020), created by charity Cycling UK, the King Alfred’s Way is a 217 mile (350 km) loop around the south east of England, taking in not only some incredibly diverse landscapes, but also millennia of history.

Named after the King that united England and reigned the Kingdom of Wessex from the start and finish point in Winchester, this route meanders through Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire and Surrey on some of the finest off-road trails in the area. It links the South Downs Way, the Ridgeway and the Thames Path National Trails, and also meets the start point of the North Downs Way in Farnham.

The King Alfred’s Way is the latest product of Cycling UK’s ambition to create a network of cycleable off-road trails across the UK, which also includes the Great North Trail (

From chalk grassland on the South Downs Way to leafy Surrey Forests, vast arable fields on the Salisbury Plain to quaint villages on the Thames, the King Alfred’s Way has it all. For the history buffs, there’s countless sites to explore including Old Sarum, the Avebury stone circles, Stonehenge, Farnham Castle, Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals and countless hill forts.

As the route never strays too far from villages and towns, it is a great choice for beginner and experienced bikepackers alike. You can enjoy the route with full gear and camp locally, or pack light and stay in quaint B&Bs along the route, the choice is yours. Although the official start and finish is in Winchester, you can start the route wherever you like. It is really well served by train stations, including in Reading, Farnham, Goring and Salisbury.

Prepare to be surprised and amazed on the King Alfred’s Way; no two tracks are the same. Whether you want to pace around in just three days or take a relaxed approach in a week, there’s plenty to admire in the gorgeous South East.

On The Map


Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    46.6 mi
    8.1 mph
    2,500 ft
    2,375 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The King Alfred's Way's official start is in Winchester, fittingly where King Alfred held his throne. But, as this route is a loop, you can start and finish at any point you choose.

    This first stage will take you clockwise onto the loop from this ancient city bustling with history from the Westgate, straight into the glorious Hampshire countryside via …

  • Difficult
    50.2 mi
    6.7 mph
    2,950 ft
    2,600 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The second stage of the King Alfred's way from the Salisbury Plain Military Training Area to the Ridgeway is a stage that promises to be chock full of brilliant wide gravel roads.

    Leaving the quaint village of Tilshead behind, head north via a series of grassy bridleways that have been newly updated from footpaths, thanks to the advocacy of Cycling …

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  • Intermediate
    37.3 mi
    9.3 mph
    1,025 ft
    1,500 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Completing the Ridgeway on the northern end of the King Alfred's Way before passing through Reading, Stage 3 feels like a ride of two halves. Chalky and grassy bridleways and byways turn into mucky tracks on the Thames Path, and from our once remote journey you now pass through the delightful villages of Berkshire into central Reading and out along …

  • Difficult
    46.1 mi
    7.7 mph
    2,325 ft
    2,225 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    From Berkshire into leafy Surrey, the fourth stage is perhaps one of the best.

    You'll start with a series of quiet country lanes as you head south, then leaving the tarmac behind every now and then to seek out hidden singletrack through roadside woodlands and heath. Although the official route does not follow the Basingstoke Canal, you could choose to …

  • Difficult
    43.3 mi
    7.1 mph
    3,050 ft
    3,225 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The final stage of the King Alfred's Way will take you full circle back to Winchester via the well-known South Downs Way.

    From Liphook, you'll skirt the edge of the Longmoor Ranges before the old converted railway line cycle path into the town of Liss. Nicely warmed up, from here you'll tackle the first climb of the day up to …

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Questions and Comments


Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    224 mi
  • Duration
    29:22 h
  • Elevation
    11,850 ft

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History, chalk, grassland and forest — King Alfred's Way

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