Here are some great ways to while away a couple of days getting to the South Coast. This route description is complete to Poole but not to Southampton.
Bristol is a great place to start a cycle tour. It is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the UK. If you stay close to the station you will be well placed to start your tour by accessing the Bristol to Bath cycle route, one of the first disused railways to be made into a traffic-free path in the UK, by a bunch of volunteers who later became known as Sustrans.
This is well signed from the west side of the station.
On the BtoB, you take a northerly loop out of the city before a gentle descent into the Avon valley and into Bath. You may well wish to take a look around this elegant spa town and once you’ve done that, retract your step using NCN4 to access the Two Tunnels route heading south out of the town.
Here you will pass through the mile-long tunnel under Coombe Down with art installations enlivening your passage. When you emerge you are already in gorgeous Somerset & Wiltshire countryside.
Follow the track down to Wellow – it changes from tarmac to a rolled stone surface – and at the riding stables turn off to the left, then take the right turn into the village and left down Mill Hill (steep). Cross the river and take both left turns so you are on Norton Lane, which delves through a wooded valley before emerging at Norton St Philips. Turn left and go up to the crossroads, then right and follow the B3110 down to Woolverton. Unfortunately there is a short stretch of main road here, although most of it is avoidable by doing a dogleg through the village. As soon as you have crossed the River Frome turn left and you are on the Wiltshire Cycleway. Shawford Lane becomes Parkgate Lane, then turn left onto Rudge Lane to visit the pretty village of Rudge. Take a left by the Full Moon and follow Brokerswood Rd to turn right onto Fairwood Rd as far as Dilton Marsh station, on the Westbury to Warminster line.
Here you need to pay attention! Turn right under the bridge and go along the High St to the Hollow. Take this up the hill to the A3098, cross over and follow Old Dilton Rd until you see a railway bridge in front of you and a turning to the right. Take that right turn and you run parallel to the railway until you veer to the left and over the railway to Upton Scudamore. Follow through to the A350 – the road is closed but you can scud across and use it to reach Westbury Rd just outside Warminster. The town itself is not very cycle friendly but the back streets aren’t too bad and there is a nice little french-style cafe (Le Cafe Journal) on the High St as you come in to town. From there, take Imber St and just before the level crossing, turn left onto Woodcock Rd (If you go straight on you will enter a large military encampment with no through route) and follow this round until you cross the A36 and get onto Bishopstrow Rd towards Sutton Veny. You are now in the Wylye Valley and can follow this road all the way through to Wylye itself. If you’re planning to stay in the valley you could do worse than the Little Langford Farmhouse B&B.
All rested? Time to decide where you are going tomorrow.
Wylye Valley to Poole
If you’re heading south to Poole you need to head back to Wylye and take Dinton Road, crossing the level crossing and starting a stiff climb to Dinton. Leave the village green to your left and cross over to Catherine Ford Lane, you have another climb, but not quite so steep this time, to Fovant where there is a handy shop. Turn right onto the A30. If you have plenty of time, take the first left towards Fifield Bavant – you are now on the Chalk Downs. At the top of the hill turn right towards Berwich St john, on Sustrans route 254. This will bring you back down to the A30 eventually, so if you are short of time stay on the A30 from Fovant – despite this road’s fearsome reputation we found it to be not too bad when we rode this section. If you’re on the Sustrans route turn left just before the A30, if you’re on the A30 turn left at Overway Lane then first right. You have a stiff climb ahead of you up to Ashmore Down. Merge onto the B3081 but take the 2nd r. towards the hamlet of Ashmore, just before the hamlet turn left towards Farnham. (NCN41). Follow that down through the Gussages to Horton, Gaunt’s Common. At Furzehill turn left for aquiet route into Wimborne Minster, joningh NCN25 which will get you through the town on a quiet route and across the River Stour to Oakley – watch out for the start of the rail trail that will get you most of the way into Poole, the last section in off-road tracks next to the main road.
From Poole you can go to the Channel Islands and St Malo via Condor Ferries.
Wylye Valley to Southampton.
***This route is not complete***
If you’re heading for the New Forest and the Southampton area, you have some choices – you can follow Sustrans routes through Salisbury and stay on the flat, or follow the more challenging route described here.
If you’re taking the flattish route, just follow NCN24 signs into Salisbury and beyond. If you want to try my route, start off the same way as going to Poole – head to Wylye and take Dinton Road, crossing the level crossing and starting a stiff climb to Dinton. Leave the village green to your left and cross over to Catherine Ford Lane, you have another climb, but not quite so steep this time, to Fovant where there is a handy shop. Turn right onto the A30. Take the first left towards Fifield Bavant – you are now on the Chalk Downs.