Cycling UK unveils new 350km off-road bike route in southern England

Cycling UK has launched a new off-road adventure route, King Alfred’s Way, running for 350 kilometres.

The charity has spent three years working on the route, which connects four of England’s National Trails: North Downs Way, South Downs Way, Ridgeway and Thames Path. The route was developed by upgrading certain sections of footpath to allow cycling and also includes existing bridleways, byways and quiet country lanes.

Sophie Gordon, Cycling UK’s campaigns officer behind the creation of King Alfred’s Way, said: “The pandemic has understandably changed the British public’s appetite for foreign travel but with King Alfred’s Way we’re hoping to at least quench its thirst for adventure.

“There’s no need to fly or, for many, even travel far for a challenging trip. King Alfred’s Way is 220 miles of literal ups and downs looping through a quintessential southern England made up of thatched cottages, Iron Age hill forts and stone circles.”

England has 15 national trails, but only two of them are cyclable from end to end: the Pennine Bridleway and the South Downs Way. Cycling UK said its wider goal is to create a network of long-distance off-road routes across the length and breadth of Great Britain.

“73 years ago, legislation was passed which led to the creation of our national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and long-distance trails,” said Gordon, referring to the Countryside Act 1947. “It’s a godsend for walkers, but for ramblers with bikes, not a lot has been done since then in terms of improving access for cycling.

“With King Alfred’s Way, we want to show what is possible if we fill those missing links between our national trails and start making the countryside accessible for everyone – walkers, horse riders and cyclists.”

King Alfred’s Way follows the launch of the 800-mile Great North Trail in 2019, and the riders’ route for the North Downs Way in 2018.

Gordon added: “This is a truly fantastic route which will take you past well-known landmarks and along some hidden gems. However, Cycling UK would urge everyone contemplating riding King Alfred’s Way to make sure they are aware of and observe current public health advice related to managing the pandemic before doing so.”

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