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Cycling in Hampshire

A cycling holiday can be a very rewarding experience for all members of the family.

For a start, this cyclist-friendly county boasts around 4,828 kilometres (3,000 miles) of bridleways, footpaths and un-surfaced roads suitable for cyclists of all levels of ability (and inclination!). Hampshire has over 1,207 kilometres (750 miles) of off-road countryside routes. The New Forest, in particular, has a superb network of well-maintained gravel paths open to cyclists. In addition, there are numerous designated cycle paths in urban areas, with an increasing number of cycle routes that now link Hampshire’s towns and nearby countryside.

From coastal cycle routes with stunning views to the peace and calm of the New Forest with its wondrous wildlife – the choice is yours.

Fancy a Day Out Cycling in Hampshire?

Hampshire is an ideal destination for a fun day out cycling! Suggested cycle routes include:

 Hayling Billy Cycle Trail: easy, suitable for families, mainly off-road; 8 kilometres (5 miles); start Havant railway station; via Langstone Bridge to Hayling Island.

 Hythe to Brockenhurst: 19.3 kilometres (12 miles), scenic forest tracks and quiet roads; via Denny Wood campsite, joining B3055 towards Brockenhurst.

 Brockenhurst to Bransgore: 12.9 kilometres (8 miles), delightful forest tracks and quiet roads (crossing A35 near Holmsley can sometimes be busy); start Brockenhurst on B3055, towards Sway; rejoins forest track towards Holmsley and Bransgore.

 Test Valley and Meon Valley (both along disused railway lines):
o Test Valley Way: 8 kilometres (5 miles) each way; easy, flat surface off-road, suitable for families; between Stonymarsh and Stockbridge; follows eastern bank of River Test; via Horsebridge and Stockbridge Common Nature Reserve.
o Meon Valley Cycle Trail: 16 kilometres (10 miles); large part of the route is challenging cycling, off-road; follows Hampshire Downs; fantastic panoramic views.

Tips for Cycling in Hampshire

 For a truly relaxed cycling experience, stick to rural back-roads, unclassified roads and country lanes which are not numbered but are, nevertheless, marked on OS maps.


 Check out http://www3.hants.gov.uk/cycling for a wealth of Hampshire cycling information, local cycling events, route finders, etc.

 The ever expanding National Cycle Network of dedicated cycling routes set up by the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, includes forest trails and disused railway tracks and makes perfect cycling territory not only for experienced cyclists, but also for family groups of ranging ability - see Resources for contact details.

 Check out the Sustrans website for a wealth of cycling information including interactive mapping; contact the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) for advice on cycle hire, cycle routes, cyclist-friendly accommodation, transporting bicycles on trains and planes, etc. – see Resources.

 Make the most of your time in Hampshire by transporting your bike by train to your starting point. Bikes can be taken free on most local train services, outside morning and evening rush hours, on a first-come, first-served basis. But, you will need to make a reservation for a small fee, usually 24 hours in advance, for long-distance rail routes. Individual train companies vary, so contact the Association of Train Operating Companies on +44 (0)171 214 9941, or National Rail Enquiries on +44 (0)8457 484950 first.

 Brockenhurst in the heart of the New Forest makes a great starting point for a cycling holiday; cycle hire is readily available in Brockenhurst or, for those who prefer to bring their own bicycle, Brockenhurst is easily accessible by rail.

 Plan your cycle routes carefully; useful local maps including the Explorer (1:25,000) for off-road and the OS Landranger (1:50,000) for on-road cycling. Order your OS maps online at: www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk.

Cyclists’ Rights of Way in Hampshire

In general, cyclists have legal rights to use:

 Bridleways – marked with blue waymarks
 Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) – marked with red waymarks
 Roads Used as a Public Path (RUPPs) – wooden signposts at junctions where paths meet roads.

Cycling is also allowed in certain designated Hampshire parks and open public spaces, notably in major cities such as Southampton and Portsmouth.
Cycling is not permitted on footpaths (rights of way marked with yellow waymarks).

The legal Definitive Map of Rights of Way in Hampshire is constantly being reviewed and updated. To view a copy of the current legal Definitive Map of Rights of Way in Hampshire, visit Hampshire County Council's Rights of Way Section, Mottisfont Court, High Street, Winchester, SO23 8ZF; Tel: +44 (0)1962 846045; email rights.of.way@hants.gov.uk. For more information about specific routes open to cyclists, contact Hampshire Highways Department, Tel: +44 (0) 1962 848544.

Cycling in the New Forest

The New Forest offers a network of superb cycle routes and Forestry Commission off-road cycle tracks. All cycle paths take you through some superb scenery. Enjoy the abundance of wildlife, places of interest and attractive New Forest villages, not to mention the many pleasant eateries and watering holes, en route!

For more detailed information, maps, leaflets and route plans etc., contact any Hampshire Tourist Information Centre (TIC), where staff will be happy to help you plan a cycling route tailored to your needs.

Long-Distance Cycling Routes

Hampshire provides a variety of well-maintained, continuous long-distance cycle routes comprising several separate rights of way specifically chosen for their scenic / historic value. Popular, and in places challenging, long-distance routes include: the South Downs Way and the Ox Drove Trail.

South Downs Way: Approximately 101 miles long, the South Downs Way is a long-distance bridleway. The Hampshire section passes through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a landscape of undulating green pastureland and small wooded areas, intersected by the River Meon. Cycle trails are clearly marked.

Ox Drove Trail: The challenging circular 25-mile Ox Drove, mainly off-road, cross-country cycle trail starts and ends at Abbotstone Down car park (on B3046), 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) north of New Alresford; follows part of the original cattle drovers’ route through quintessential English countryside.

Indoor Cycling at Calshot Velodrome

For exhilarating indoor cycling, head for Calshot, the only indoor, banked velodrome in Southern England: Calshot Activities Centre, Calshot Spit, Fawley, Southampton, SO45 1BR; Tel: general enquiries, +44 (023 8089 2077; email: calshot.ac@hants.gov.uk; provides all levels of cycle training from beginner, ‘have-a-go’ sessions, to competition training.

General Cycling Resources

 Sustrans: www.sustrans.org.uk
 National Cycle Network; www.sustrans.org.uk/default.asp?sID=1090515197515
 Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC): www.ctc.org.uk
 www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk.

Cycling in Hampshire
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