At the end of July I took advantage of some uncharacteristically summery weather in England by joining my friend Joel for a cycling trip around some spectacular prehistoric sites.
I took a train to Oxford, and the following day Joel and I made an early morning start cycling 40km SW to Uffington. After much debate I decided to make the trip on my single speed bike. I made some changes to it to have two different gears on my flip-flop hub. I managed to cycle 140km in two days, only stopping to change my wheel orientation 7 times. Apparently some of the early Tours of France were ridden this way, and if one isn’t racing, the change can be done in less than a minute and gives a nice opportunity to eat and drink a bit. Please get in touch with me if you have any questions about the details of this set up.
All the wide format photos lower down in this article are from Joel – many of them turned out with much better colours than any of mine. Thanks Joel!
Our first stop was at the Uffington White Horse, a prehistoric (two to three thousand years old) figure cut into the chalky soil on a hillside. It really is a masterpiece of design, with much more “modern” lines than any of the more recent imitation horses cut in the area.
Next we continued south and crossed the M4 on a small bridge for bicycles and pedestrians. We made fun of the ugly sight, but little did we know this motorway crossing was much smoother than others which lay ahead.
Next we made our way up onto a ridge and cycled some gravel paths again SW towards Avebury. We stopped at a nice bench with a view for lunch.
In Avebury we locked up our bikes and went for a short walk around the town and it’s environs. We can highly recomend a visit to Avebury – far fewer tourists and cars than Stonehenge, and an opportunity to get closer to the stones.
“A great wall along the southern border”… of Avebury.
Next we headed due south towards Amesbury where we had booked a hostel for the night. Along the way we passed one of eight white horses in the area (none nearly as old as the one in Uffington) – possibly the 1812 Alton Barnes White Horse.
Near Amesbury we encountered a mess of motorways, cycling paths that were just 10 metres long, cycle paths which spat you out into motorway traffic, and a general morass of car dependent hell. We ended up needing to cycle an extra 15km at the end of the day to avoid cycling along the motorway for some 3km. Spirits were low at this point. Thankfully a trip to the pub quickly replenished both our moral and literal spirit levels.
On Sunday morning we once again battled motorways to make our way toward Stonehenge. Fortunately we found an approach via the fields which gave us an amazing unpolluted view of the site.
After a brief stop at the museum/interpretive centre/mob of tourists, we hopped on the bikes again and continued south to Salisbury. Here we visited the cathedral, saw a spectacular copy of the Magna Carta (one of only four surviving copies) and had lunch at a food festival in the town square. An excellent summer day before we each made our way home by train.