Cycle through 5,000 years of history – Wiltshire Cycleway

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

Ride by mystical stone circles dating back over 5,000 years, marvel at 17th-century manor houses built on the wealth of the wool trade, visit Roman battlefields and magnificent medieval castles – Wiltshire’s unique history makes for an incredible adventure by bike.

This Collection reveals the very best of this historic county in seven stages, each between 21.2 to 35.2 miles (34.2 - 56.6 km) long. You could complete the 192 mile (309 km) route in fewer days by combining the stages together, but I recommend taking your time to visit some of the sites along the way.

As long as you have an average fitness level, the Wiltshire Cycleway is a great adventure for all. In total, you will climb 9,022 feet (2,750 m) through the rolling countryside, with no more than 1,640 feet (500 m) elevation gain in one day.

You can also enjoy the adventure with your whole family, although very little of the route is completely traffic-free so your children should be confident on minor roads.

Any bike is suitable for this ride, whether you prefer chunkier tread or slick road tyres. However, if you have thin tyres, you may want to avoid the Fosse Way or be prepared to push.

This route takes you on a magical journey to some of the UK’s most incredible sites. You can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Stonehenge, the crumbling walls of Old Wardour Castle, the world’s oldest clock at Salisbury Cathedral, Stourhead House, and more.

Of course, no bike tour is complete without plenty of snack breaks and pit stops along the way. Farm shops brimming with local produce, friendly pubs, ice cream shops, great coffee and excellent restaurants will keep you fuelled as you ride.

Following mostly country lanes, you will discover the county from its backroads. Peaceful countryside scenes await as you wind through the green landscape passing animals grazing in paddocks, tractors ploughing fields, and undulating grassy hills. You may even spot some more unusual wildlife as you cycle through the grounds of Longleat.

Built on the wealth of the wool trade in centuries gone by, Wiltshire’s towns and villages are a delight to explore. This Collection will take you to Salisbury, Marlborough and Bradford on Avon as well as chocolate-box Cotswold villages such as Biddestone and Castle Combe.

As the route is circular, you can begin at any point, but it’s best ridden in an anti-clockwise direction. The official start and endpoint is the charming town of Westbury, which is where this Collection kicks off.

With direct train connections with Cardiff, Worcester, London, Plymouth and Portsmouth, Westbury is convenient to reach by rail. Look out for the white chalk horse carved on the hillside as you approach – your first taste of the wonderful county of Wiltshire!

For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/live/departures/westbury

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Difficult
    03:06
    28.5 mi
    9.2 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,650 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From the magnificent Longleat Estate to the Jane Austen-esque Stourhead Head house, stage 1 takes you on a rural journey through centuries of history. Today you’ll ride 23.9 miles (38.5 km) from Westbury to Gillingham. With 1,115 feet (340 m) in elevation gain and gentle inclines, stage 1 is a relaxed introduction to Wiltshire. From Westbury, you can take a small optional detour to visit Bratton Camp and White Horse before joining the official route along the A3098. Take care here as this section can be busy, especially during rush hour. At Chapmanslade, join quiet lanes as they wind through Corsley and Corsley Heath, a small village with a friendly pub. Here, you will ride into Longleat Estate, one of the most well-known country estates in the UK thanks to its safari park and range of attractions. It’s worth setting aside plenty of time here, or even splitting stage 1 into two sections and spending the night. Next, a short uphill stretch takes you into Horningsham where you can reward yourself with a delicious pub meal at the Bath Arms. After lunch, ride glorious back-roads for 7.2 miles (11.6 km) as they wind through the luscious countryside to Stourhead House, straight from the pages of a Jane Austen novel. The remainder of stage 1 takes you gradually downhill, passing Milton on Stour and into Gillingham. Sprawled around the River Stour, Gillingham is a pleasant place to spend the evening with multiple choices for restaurants and places to stay.

    by
    Amy
    Intermediate
    03:27
    35.2 mi
    10.2 mph
    1,475 ft
    1,550 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 2 runs 22.7 miles (36.6 km) through rural Wiltshire to the historic city of Salisbury. The tracks and quiet lanes are ideal to explore the idyllic countryside from your saddle.Cross Shreen Water stream to leave Gillingham and cycle back into rural life.Here, the route loosely follows the River Loddon as it wiggles through farmland. A small hill brings you up and over into East Knoyle, a thriving village known as the birthplace of Sir Christopher Wren. There’s a shop and pub to stock up on snacks here.Continue along lanes through rural scenery, taking a small detour to visit the crumbling ruins of Wardour Castle. On the outskirts of Semley, the route climbs gradually through woodland and fields before dropping down into Donhead St Mary. From here, you ride through various sleepy villages such as Ebbesbourne Wake and Broad Chalke, fully immersing yourself in rural life. A short climb and section of single track take you out of the countryside and into Salisbury, marking the end of stage 2. Here, you will find centuries of fascinating history, especially as the city was a Roman stronghold for many years. The city has a huge range of accommodation, as well as restaurants, cafes, pubs, shops, and a train station.

    by
    Amy
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  • Intermediate
    02:24
    21.4 mi
    8.9 mph
    1,000 ft
    875 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Exploring traces of ancient human settlements and learning about the mysteries of the earliest humans, stage 3 is a fascinating day in the saddle. Today, you have the chance to visit the UK’s most legendary historical site, Stonehenge, as you ride 21.4 miles (34.5 km) from Salisbury to Haxton. From Salisbury, head northwards along a cycle path which traces the River Avon as it flows past Old Sarum, an ancient settlement. Continue to follow the river as it flows through Little Durnford, Netton and Upper Woodford before turning towards Stonehenge. This unique UNESCO World Heritage Site is a wonder to behold. Although it’s worth paying to fully appreciate it, you can also see it for free from the main road.Next, you’ll come to Bulford, a convenient place to stop for lunch or take a break at one of the cafes or pubs.The final stretch takes you 4.3 miles (7 km) along the edge of the Tidworth Ranges military zone. The route follows the picturesque River Avon into Netheravon where you will find a few accommodation options. There’s also a pub, village shop and Stonehenge Ales, where you can sample local ales.

    by
    Amy
    Intermediate
    03:00
    29.0 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,325 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Tranquil nature, vast open grassland and thick ancient forests await on stage 4 as you ride 27.4 miles (44.2 km) through Wiltshire’s rural heart from Haxton to Ramsbury. Before leaving Netheravon, it’s worth replenishing your snack supply as you will not find another opportunity during the first leg of stage 4. Follow a lane through the beautiful Salisbury Plain, crossing Tidworth Ranges. Although this is a military area, it is perfectly safe to cycle here unless otherwise signposted. After 4.9 miles (8 km), ride through Everleigh village and enjoy another isolated stretch across the plains to Collingbourne Ducis, marking the end of the military zone. This historic village has a few cafes and pubs, as well as original Victorian post boxes. The next few miles are a lovely ride through the countryside, joining the Kennet and Avon Canal just after Wilton. Cycle along the water’s edge to Great Bedwyn and turn towards Savernake Forest. With ancient pines and rustling evergreens, this enchanting forest is a wonderful place to lose yourself on the trails.At Stitchcombe, follow the River Kennet as it flows towards Ramsbury, marking the end of stage 4. Ramsbury is a pretty village with quaint cottages and two pubs. You'll find plenty of local food and drink producers in the village to re-energise after your ride. There's also a range of accommodation.

    by
    Amy
    Difficult
    03:04
    27.9 mi
    9.1 mph
    1,600 ft
    1,550 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From thriving high streets to Iron Age forts and horse chalk hill figures, stage five is a varied ride from Ramsbury to Royal Wootton Bassett. With 1,607 feet (490 metres) of elevation gain, stage 5 is the hilliest section of the Wiltshire Cycleway. From Ramsbury, ride uphill into the rural landscapes and drop down to the River Kennet which you follow as it flows through Stinchcombe and Mildenhall villages and into Marlborough. Marlborough is a thriving rural town in the heart of Wiltshire and has plenty of shops and sites to whittle away a couple of hours. Join a cycleway to leave the town and enjoy an uninterrupted stretch of glorious scenery: XXX. Here, you will also take on Hackpen Hill which is bound to get your heart pumping. Look out for the white chalk horse cut into the hillside, you can’t miss it! Next, I’ve included an optional 1.8 mile (3 km) detour to visit Barbury Castle Iron Age Fort. If you prefer to stick to the original route, continue along the lane to Brand Hinton village without turning right.You can rest your legs a bit as the route now heads downhill from Clyffe Pypard, through Tockenham, and into Royal Wootton Bassett, the final destination for today. With a population over 10,000 people, Royal Wootton Bassett has everything you need for a comfortable stay, including a train station.

    by
    Amy
    Intermediate
    02:49
    28.6 mi
    10.2 mph
    975 ft
    1,100 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From strategic Roman roads to magnificent abbeys and chocolate-box villages, stage 6 reveals more of Wiltshire’s delights. Today you will cover 28.5 miles (46 km) from Royal Wootton Bassett to Corsham. From the town centre, the route heads downhill along a rural lane, lined with green hedges and wild flowers in summer. You’ll ride under the M4 motorway and pass Doveys Farm, a good coffee stop, especially if you like petting gorgeous animals. Continue north through Callow Hill and deeper into the countryside. The scenery is lovely here; layered fields and golden meadows frame the road. Look out for Echo Lodge Meadows to your right. The route is relatively flat and easy riding as you make your way to Malmesbury. Known for its incredible abbey, Malmesbury is a historic town with various restaurants, cafes, pubs, and two supermarkets.Next, cross the River Avon and pedal towards Foxley and on to Norton, where you will find the Vine Tree Inn country pub. Here, you join the Fosse Way Roman Road for 3.9 miles (6.3 km). Built by the Romans, this is a wonderful gravel section with basically no traffic. However, it can be tricky with a fully loaded touring bike, especially after rain, so come prepared to push a bit. After visiting the wonderful town Castle Combe, you’ll wiggle through the countryside to the final destination of stage six, Corsham. Brimming with Bath stone buildings dating to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Corsham is known as the cultural town of Wiltshire. As such, you’ll find no shortage of interesting places to discover, as well as all things needed for a relaxing night.

    by
    Amy
    Difficult
    02:07
    21.3 mi
    10.1 mph
    925 ft
    975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Your final day of riding the Wiltshire Cycleway takes you 24.4 miles (39.3 km) from Corsham to Westbury. You can expect to sample regional produce at farm shops, roam the honey-coloured streets of picturesque towns, delve deep into history at medieval castles, and more. Today the route rises and falls over gentle hills, climbing 1,082 feet (330 m) in total. On the outskirts of Corsham, lanes will take you through the countryside, passing horses grazing in paddocks and a delicious ice cream shop. After skirting around Atworth village, you will arrive at the delightful Neston Farm Shop, a wonderful place to stop for lunch before exploring Great Chalfield Manor down the road.Continue to ride through green fields on practically traffic-free lanes before joining the busier B3109 into Bradford on Avon. With pretty golden streets and a huge variety of independent shops and historical buildings, Bradford on Avon is well worth exploring. Cross the River Avon and the Kennet & Avon Canal to leave the town and return to peaceful nature. Here, thick trees hug the way as you ride towards Farleigh Hungerford, a historic village with a Medieval castle. Next, you will cycle through Farleigh Park, before crossing the River Frome and arriving in Rode, a lovely village that was built on the wealth of the wool trade. You’ll find shops and pubs here if you’re hungry. The final stretch of your adventure takes you 6.9 miles (11.2 km) through the countryside and back into Westbury, marking the end of the Wiltshire Cycleway.If you plan to rest before returning home, you’ll find loads of accommodation options, restaurants and cafes. Otherwise, I’ve ended the route at the station so you can easily make your way home.

    by
    Amy

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    192 mi
  • Duration
    19:57 h
  • Elevation
    9,025 ft

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