I know I’ve done a lot of talking about cycling abroad recently and when you read about the fantastic time I had in Catalunya, you can see why. And whilst I definitely want to do more cycling and exploring in Europe, sometimes it’s easy to forget the beautiful cycling we have right here in England. Cycle Southern England launched this week with a brand new website offering a one-stop shop for those keen to cycle on some of the UK’s quietest, and easily accessible, roads and tracks.
I don’t live in Southern England but there are so many options available when you want to explore other areas of the country; there are lots of cyclist friendly accommodation options to suit all sorts of budgets who are very willing to accommodate bikes too. Bikepacking (where you literally pack everything you need for your trip onto your bike) is next on my list of cycling adventures; I quite fancy a few b&b or hostel stops and carrying only the required essentials with me. (Obviously, if it was warmer in the UK I’d be up for carrying a tent too and doing a spot of camping along the way. Sadly, it’s October and currently pouring down. And our summer was less than favourable too – so indoor accommodation definitely suits me better!)
Lots to explore
Just a one hour train ride from London and easily accessible from the north and west and it’s worth the trip as the Cycle Southern England region looks like it has lots to explore! It covers an area including Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Bournemouth and Poole, North Wessex Downs, Chichester and Arundel, Wiltshire and Berkshire, offering some of the UK’s best cycling experiences for road, mountain bike and family riders. Now, I’ve not explored any of these and when it includes two National Parks, the New Forest and the South Downs, I have to ask myself why not? We’re so lucky to some have some truly beautiful countryside here in the UK and everything looks so pretty in Autumn with all the changing colours.
The region offers over 200 miles of car-free cycle tracks and trails, over 1,000 miles of bridleways, at least 10 cycle hire centres, over 35 cycle friendly places to stay and more than 100 cycle friendly cafes and tea shops. So whilst I’ve been waxing lyrical about what’s on offer abroad, it’s fair to say the UK has a lot to offer too. And something for every cycling ability. Yay!
Loads of different cycling options
If you live close by to these areas you might find something new to explore and if you’ve never been before, well the website offers plenty of easy to follow itineraries, such as the ‘Red Squirrel Trail’ or ‘Mountain Biking at Alice Holt Forest’ within the family cycling section, or the 160 mile ‘Wiltshire Cycleway’ or for those looking for something a little more challenging, the 64 mile ‘Taste Round the Island’ route on the Isle of Wight.
Traffic free trails for family cycling
New routes for 2015 featuring on the website include The Meon Valley, stretching for 10 miles from Knowle to West Meon and a great traffic free trail for families, passing through the South Downs National Park and the pretty villages of the Meon Valley. Improved drainage and surfacing that was completed in July 2015 ensures the route can be used year round. With improved access to great inns and pubs along the route, there are also plenty of places to stay nearby…and plenty of places to grab a well-earned pint, bacon sandwich or piece of cake!
Don’t fancy travelling with your bike in tow?
The trains to the Cycle Southern England region allow passengers to carry bikes onboard free of charge, or if you don’t fancy that, there are an array of places to hire bikes on arrival. Cycle hire hubs are listed across the region in the site’s ‘Plan Your Trip’ section, including, for example, Cyclexperience located in the car park of Brockenhurst train station, offering bike hire from just £17 per day – which is pretty good value for a day of exercise, sightseeing and cycling fun!
Travelling with my bike is something I’m really enjoying at the moment. If Southern England is an area you’ve cycled already, I’d love to hear your tips on places to visit, or top recommendations for places to rest my head and my legs! If you’ve not been yet, why not check it out. I might just see you there!