by Holly Seear | Jul 29, 2016
I only discovered this route this year. It is a 50 mile route originally used by Tudor shipbuilders to transport wood from Alice Holt Forest in North Hampshire to the Portsmouth Dockyards.
It is suitable for mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes or hybrids with off road tyres and is predominantly bridleway, cyclepath and permissive paths. The route begins next to Bentley station with an undulating path through Alice Holt Forest. Most the route is flat or gently undulating, but
there is a tough climb where the route joins the South Downs Way and climbs steeply up to Queen Elizabeth Country Park. On leaving the park you encounter another steep gravel climb, but once you descend from the South Downs Way the route is downhill or flat to the coast. (Total elevation gain for the complete route is 2200 ft).
Most the route is through beautiful Hampshire countryside, but the last section into Portsmouth is not as pleasant as predominantly cycle path next to, or under the main roads so if you chose to only do a shorter section pick the earlier sections.
There are plenty of options for refreshments on route and the route goes through Queen Elizabeth Country Park which has a bike friendly cafe with a track pump and tools available for use and if you have time to play there are some purpose built mountain bikes trails here too, ranging from an easy family trail to a technical and root covered red graded trail.
The route itself it a bit of a treasure trail with 20 Portland stone sculptures along the way for you to spot. Each sculpture tells a story about the local area and even has a QR code on it so you can read the history on your mobile.
We rode the length of the trail, stayed overnight in a B&B before riding back the next day, but you could chose to do part of the route or get the train back depending how far you wish to ride.
Hampshire County Council has a website dedicated to the trail here with interactive maps, breaking the trail down into sections and information about the sculptures so you can plan your trip.
by Fred Bamforth | Jun 5, 2016
In our new series we look at our writers and friends favourite rides and routes around the UK and worldwide, first up is Fred Bamforth.
Oldham-Mottram-Glossop-Snake Pass- Strines-Holmfirth-Saddleworth Moor-Oldham
The Maxim ‘Quality not Quantity’ is often over used, but in cycling terms a good ride in hilly terrain can very quickly prove it….
Oldham is set within the foothills of the Pennines and over the years has been an amazing base for rides in the Saddleworth area, a hidden gem with a myriad of routes and styles of climbs that means you can never get bored.
In the modern era of cycling numbers matter so long climbs that offer ‘meters gained’ appeal to the climbers out there. One of my fave rides delivers in this respect, with long climbs, steep climbs and some amazing scenery.
Heading South-east from Oldham gentle undulations give way to the day’s first long climb from Stalybridge to Mottram Cutting, providing a great warm up for what is to come later. Within the cutting is a retaining wall where a ‘fossilised frog’ was found and is marked, so as you begin the gentle descent to Mottram village try to spot it on your left!
The road here goes downhill for a few miles, but in traffic, this means that once you’ve got towards Glossop following the A57 on the flat valley road the glory of hitting the base of the Snake pass is all the better. One of the classic northern climbs and a staple of the legendary old Tour of the Peak race the Snake delivers the challenge that its reputation has built over the decades.
What goes up must come down, and how! The twists and turns as you cross from Derbyshire into Yorkshire are what cyclists dream of and as you skirt the edge of Ladybower reservoir (of Dambusters fame) you begin to rise again before turning left onto Strines Moor. This next section of road gives a roller coaster reversing some of the route that le Tour de Yorkshire took. With steep descents and equally steep climbs, this is a test for you and your bike, good braking and swift gear changes are needed to ensure a smooth passage through this section.
Arriving at the A616 after this rural fairly quiet piece of road can be a shock as the next few miles heading North can be very busy with traffic, once past the Flouch roundabout and back into the lanes towards Holmfirth sees less vehicles and some splendid terrain.
After passing though Holmfirth and heading west on the A635 the climb over Saddleworth Moor beckons to its lofty height on the ‘Isle o’Skye’ road. This is usually a gritty head/cross wind fest but the sense of achievement of cresting the lip of the summit and dropping into Saddleworth towards Greenfield, and seeing the amazing view down the Chew Valley and over Dovestones Reservoir is something you will never tire of.
After some of the monster climbs the day has already thrown at you the mere couple of miles climbing out from Greenfield over Lydgate back towards Oldham on the A669 will not faze you, giving one last classic view over the Cheshire Plain and Manchester as you look down from this last big rise and the roll back in.
If you’ve got a favourite ride you’d like to share with us please get in touch.
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