Cycling in Wiltshire

Family Cycling in Swindon

Cycling in Wiltshire

Looking for information about cycling in Wiltshire? Cycling UK's guide to cycling in Wiltshire gives you routes, events, clubs and advice to inspire you to cycle in the county.

Stonehenge, White Horses, Britain’s best towpath rides, mystic ancient barrows and crop circles – and Swindon: Wiltshire has an unmatched range of must-sees to explore by bike, all set among quite beautiful chalk hills, valleys and country lanes.

Start in Salisbury, with its fine cathedral and its close. Cycle via an old drover’s road up to remote Normanton Down: Stonehenge reveals itself dramatically. Cyclists in the know, though, prefer the village of Avebury, whose ancient stone circle is more accessible and more fun to visit. The Wylye Valley route from Salisbury to Bath (NCN24) passes through typically fabulous valley scenery; the circular 160-mile Wiltshire Cycleway showcases the county, right up to historic Malmesbury in the Cotswolds.

For mountain bikers Avebury, is the start of the Ridgeway, the renowned chalk lane that heads west across England; the first 42 miles are a cycle treat. Another good MTB day or two out is to take an OS map visit all eight Wiltshire White Horses, huge chalk figures cut into the hills in the hills rolling northeast from Westbury (home of the grandest). Exploring the mystic ancient burial barrows and speculative crop-circle country round here makes a great road or off-road tour.

The Kennet and Avon canal, running east from Bath, offers England’s best towpath cycling experience (NCN4). It runs smoothly to Italianate Bradford-on-Avon through unmatched scenery, and into Devizes you have the astounding staircase of nearly 30 locks at Caen Hill, a world canal marvel. All great for families, particularly the Bath-Bradford leg.

And when you need large town facilities, Swindon has three decent local 7-mile leisure routes. Cycling its notorious six-gyratory ‘Magic Roundabout’ is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – as in, ‘never again’.

Cycling groups and clubs in Wiltshire

Swindon CTC (Swindon)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/swindon

Weekend and weekday rides; accompanied children welcome

Baydon Flyers (Baydon)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/baydon-flyers

Malmesbury Clarion Cycling Club (Malmesbury)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/malmesbury-clarion-cycling-club

http://malmesburyclarion.weebly.com

Cycling club operating in and around Malmesbury

Corinium Cycling Club (Cirencester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/corinium-cycling-club

https://www.facebook.com/CoriniumCyclingClub/

Organises a range of activities - on and off bike - to suit all levels of cycling

Swindon Road Club (Swindon)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/swindon-road-club

http://www.swindon-rc.co.uk/

Fitness building, social and training rides, road and circuit races, time trials, cyclocross, MTB

Westbury Wheelers (Westbury)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/westbury-wheelers

Sarum Velo (Salisbury)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/sarum-velo

http://www.sarumvelo.org/

Many types of cycling including road, mountain bike, track, cyclocross and time trials

Salisbury Road Club (Salisbury)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/salisbury-road-club

Four Hundred in Four (Salisbury)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/four-hundred-four

Mountain Biking Swindon (Swindon)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/m-b-swindon

http://www.mbswindon.co.uk/

Resource for all things mountain biking, including Croft Trail and Ridgeway

Swindon MTB Enthusiasts Forum (Swindon)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/swindon-mtb-enthusiasts-forum

North Wilts Road Club (Swindon)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/north-wilts-road-club

https://en-gb.facebook.com/NorthWiltsRoadClub/

Holds Saturday and Sunday rides and a midweek ride

Salisbury Plain Area MB (Chippenham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/salisbury-plain-area-mb

Wrong Way Round Bike Ride (Wiltshire)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/wrong-way-round-bike-ride

Chippenham and District Wheelers (Chippenham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/chippenham-district-wheelers-0

http://www.chippenhamwheelers.org/

Caters for riders of all ages and abilities, with a strong focus on developing young cyclists

What to take with you on your ride 

The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need.

But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag or rear rack and panniers are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.

Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)

If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock. 

It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.

Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.

Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.

Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies. 

Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!

Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip. 

Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.

What have we missed? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below.  

Cycling routes in Wiltshire

Salisbury and lots of town guides, Kennet and Avon canal, and many rural rides

Cycle A-way’s list of routes, maps and resources for Wiltshire

Journey Planner

Kennet & Avon Cycle Route (NCN4)

Salisbury and Wilton Cycle Map 

Cycling events in Wiltshire

Leisure rides (Chippenham)  Sats

Weekly jaunts by Chippenham Wheelers; many other regular rides, too

Check out our events calendar to find a ride that suits you

Make sure your bike is working
(from our partners, Halfords)

Creaking cranks, wobbly wheels or slipping saddles are the last thing you want, but Halfords' guide to basic bike maintenance will keep you rolling smoothly. Whether you’re a regular commuter, a leisurely weekend rider, or prefer to tear it up on a serious MTB trail, signs of wear and tear might keep you off the saddle from time to time. Whilst we can’t promise to banish those roadside mishaps, we can help keep your bike tip top with our top tips!

You’re heading out on your lovely bike, with a pannier packed with your essentials. A glorious route lies ahead, but then you run into a spot of bother! Most of the time there are handy hacks you can do to tide you over whilst out and about, and we’ve taken a look into the most common bike problems and solutions…

Clicking saddle? Check that the bolts connecting the saddle to the seat post are not loose. Tighten until the saddle is firmly secured using an allen key from your trusty toolbox!

Squealing brakes? This could be down to dirt or oil on the brake pads. Give it a quick wipe down, then when you get home take the brake pads off and readjust.

Squeaky derailleur? A little lube should help. Remove any excess.

Creaky pedals? Dry pedal bearings, loose crank arms or a worn bottom bracket could be the culprit. Once home, remove and lube the pedal bearings, tighten and lube the crank arms, or replace the bottom bracket if it’s still making a fuss.

Problem areas

Some of the problems you find with your bike might need a closer look, and here’s where we can help!

Wobbling disc rotors, spongy brakes and rattling bolts needn’t be as pesky as they sound for long enough to keep you off your bike! Call and see us with your two wheels at your local Halfords, or with any other bike bothers you might have.

From as little as £15 a year, Halfords will take the labour out of looking after your bike. Halfords offer a range of care packages, they provide free fitting on all parts and accessories bought from Halfords, and even include an annual service worth £50 as part of the plan!

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