Car-free Ridgeway overnighter

A two-day bikepacking route along prehistoric tracks and industrial-revolution towpaths

The Ridgeway at dusk

I love riding the Ridgeway; there’s such a liberating freedom to pedalling this high chalk trail. For me, that freedom becomes a little tarnished if I need a car to access it and I have to sit through (and contribute to) miles of heavy traffic. So I like to take the train. [Well, I did before Covid-19 – which is when this was all drafted. Bear this in mind if you go before things are back to something like normal.]

I also enjoy a good loop. There’s something deeply satisfying about a circular ride. By combining the rideable section of the Ridgeway national trail with the Kennet and Avon Canal, you can form a two-day 240km loop almost completely off-road. And who would have thought that was possible in the South of England? It’s a gem that’s hidden in plain sight.

The other advantage of combining Ridgeway and canal is that it gives you a huge choice of stations from which to start or finish your ride. With the canal and railway running almost side-by-side between Pewsey and Reading, you don’t even have to commit to doing the whole canal section, or even completing the loop. Just hop on a train when you’ve had enough.

My experience

“Ahead of me, energy-sapping climbs and rolling chalk tracks led through a prehistoric landscape of white horses, fortresses and burial mounds.”

Read my ride story

In summary

See the route and get the GPX

Day 1

Day 2