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.
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.
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.
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 a fare for people on foot and cycle, 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 it's 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.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.