How King Alfred's Way began

Cycling UK's latest off-road trail, King Alfred's Way, is not just a fantastic way to explore stunning landscapes stretching back 10,000 years - it's also a crucial link in a wider network of long-distance trails. Cycling UK campaigns officer Sophie Gordon explains how, and what's coming next.

King Alfred’s Way is a 350km (220 mile) loop around the heart of historic Wessex, which showcases some of the best riding that southern England has to offer. The route transports riders through 10,000 years of history, taking in Stonehenge, Avebury stone circle, Iron Age hill forts, Farnham Castle, and Winchester and Salisbury Cathedrals.


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The name of the trail is inspired by Alfred the Great, who ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. The trail starts and ends at King Alfred’s statue in Winchester, where he is buried.

Using parts of the Ridgeway and South Downs Way, the trail is ideal for gravel bikes and could be ridden over a few days as a bikepacking trip.

It’s also easily accessible for point-to-point day rides by train, passing through Reading, Winchester and Salisbury.

However, despite being so close to towns and cities in the south of England, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Think white horses on chalk hillsides and wide-open views across rolling waves of countryside.


Joining up other routes 

King Alfred’s Way will also form a key link with other long-distance routes, as it connects four National Trails: the South Downs Way, Cycling UK’s North Downs Way riders’ route, and the rideable parts of the Ridgeway and Thames Path.


It’s all part of Cycling UK’s wider goal to create a network of long-distance off-road routes across the length and breadth of Great Britain, through amazing places and wild landscapes.

In 2018, we helped to develop a riders’ route for the North Downs Way National Trail, as like most of England’s National Trails, the official route uses sections of footpath so couldn’t be ridden from end to end.

That got us thinking – could we do the same for other National Trails, and identify routes to link them together so you could ride off-road from Brighton to Bangor, or Penzance to the Norfolk coast, or all the way from Land’s End to John o’ Groats?

The seed had been planted, and Cycling UK’s off-road advisor and self-confessed ‘map geek’ Kieran Foster got to work.



In summer 2019, Cycling UK launched the Great North Trail, an 800-mile off-road adventure route from the Peak District to the northern tips of mainland Scotland.

The response to the Great North Trail was huge, reinforcing the findings from our off-road survey – that people want more long-distance trails.

King Alfred’s Way is the next step in the network. You can plan your own journey with our online maps and GPX files, and purchase the comprehensive route guide to get a real flavour of the places you'll be riding through.

If you want to stay up to date with all the latest on off-road access and long-distance routes, sign up for our quarterly off-road update.

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You can stay in the loop with news about off-road access and long-distance trails by signing up to our quarterly off-road updates.

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Cycling UK's work to increase access to the countryside and develop long-distance trails like King Alfred's Way is only possible because of the support of our members. By joining, you can help us create more fantastic routes to explore.

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