- Distance: 80 miles
- Type: A mixture of off and on road cycling
With its combination of woodlands, chalk downland, rolling fields and small villages, the North Hampshire countryside is a superb area for cycling. This route takes in some of the best scenery in the south east and after arriving at the coast in Southampton you can continue the route on the Isle of Wight from Cowes and Sandown via Newport - just hop on the ferry running between Southampton and Cowes. A short section through Shawford between Winchester and Chandler's Ford is incomplete as of December 2012.
1. Reading to Basingstoke
Locally known as the Calleva Trail and forming a key section of the National Cycle Network in Hampshire, this route is largely traffic free between Basingstoke Town Centre and Chineham, and then follows quiet lanes passing Silchester and then through West Berkshire and on to Reading. Reading to Basingstoke is mapped on Thames Valley and also on the free Reading to Basingstoke leaflet.
2. Basingstoke to Southampton
The first section is from Basingstoke to Alton and New Alresford. This 23 mile route provides some excellent cycling and passes through the attractive villages of Cliddesden and Ellisfield. This fully signed route uses a mixture of traffic free routes and quiet roads. A free leafet detailing the Basingstoke to Alton and Alresford section is available from Sustrans. Otherwise, Basingstoke to Southampton and the Isle of Wight is fully mapped on Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (also shows Regional Route 67 Round the Island cycle route).
3. Cowes to Sandown (Isle of Wight)
This section of National Route 23 is known locally as the Red Squirrel Trail. Upon arrival at East Cowes, you need to head towards the Cowes Floating Bridge which allows the route to cross the River Medina. There is no toll for cyclists and the bridge does not operate a 24-hour service, so this section of the route is not available late at night. It is an easy, fairly level ride after the hill out of East Cowes and the largely traffic free cycleway takes you all the way to Newport, with great views of the river. After Newport its mainly traffic free to Sandown. Route 23 has been extended so that, instead of returning the same way back to Cowes, you can carry on to Shanklin (on road) and then to Wroxhall and Godshill. There are some steep hills at Appuldurcombe and Wroxhall. At Merstone you rejoin the original route alignment.
Things to see and do
This route runs from Reading to Southampton via Basingstoke, Alresford, Winchester and Eastleigh.