Inspired by the Dorset Gravel Dash I have been trying to create a similar route around Salisbury. There is some fantastic gravel riding in the area so I wanted to develop a long days journey that showcases all that Wessex has to offer.
Groveley Wood and its Roman Road
Wiltshire chalk downland and the cattle droves
The wildflower meadows of Martin Down nature reserve
The New Forest
Hampshire Woodland and the Test Valley
and finally Salisbury Plain
This is what I have come up with with so far and I am very pleased with the result.
Its a fantastic day out and a bit of a challenge. 100 miles distance and 5.500 feet of climbing.
You don't have to do the whole route in one day (although it's a great adventure if you can). For a shorter ride you can pick off any section you like. There is easy, flattish road access from Salisbury to Wilton, Lockerly, Cholderton and Amesbury, all places with easy access to the route, and these are good choices for round trips.
Theres a Strava route below and a few notes to help if you dont know the area.
When riding the entire route I prefer to start in Amesbury which:
frontloads the steep climbs at the start of the day
positions two big market towns for meals at convenient times,
ends the route at the iconic Stonehenge,
provides lots of food and take-away options for ravenous cyclists at the end of the ride.
Other start points should work equally well. If you want to bypass Amesbury then continue SW from Stonehenge over the A303 and go SW for another 2.5 miles to Druid's Lodge. Cross the A360 and continue on the bridle path for another mile, then cut south to join the original route dropping into Stoford.
Food is available at:
Broad Chalke volunteer run cafι and small shop in the church,
Fordingbridge small market town with multiple shops and cafes
Fordingbridge A338/B3017 junction Petrol Station with small Budgens Store,
Fritham - Royal Oak Pub
Lockerly Post Office and store selling food and snacks (in the NW half of the village about half mile off the route).
Stockbridge small market town with Coop supermarket and many cafes/restaurants,
Middle Wallop Petrol Station with large Londis store selling food and snacks,
Grateley Plough Pub,
Cholderton Farm shop and cafι,
Amesbury small market town with Coop, Aldi and many cafes/take away eating options,
The best time for the route would be spring and early summer, in the window when the mud has dried up but before the nettles and brambles have blocked two or three short sections of the woodland paths. That season also gives the best of the wodland and chalk downland scenery.
The route is mercifully free of bad nettle sections and most parts should should go at many seasons of the year. The map below shows how the Fullerton-Wallop section can be bypassed if necessary, but this sadly means a longer tarmac section.