King Alfred's Way & Bivvy a Month | June

This ride had been booked in for a while and it was only as it was a few days away that it really dawned on me that it would be a pretty big effort.

I had planned to do the route over 5 days, but for no particular reason pushed hard (140km+) on the fourth day and finished early in 4 days, doing two days of planned distance in one.

As I rode I said to myself 'must remember that' so many times, but half of it got forgotten, so here's a list of highlights I can remember, instead of an essay of every detail…

  • Seeing the same couple (doing the same route) multiple times, leapfrogging each other as we rested or stopped for the night.
  • Getting passed by a group of four at Stonehenge who were trying to do the whole route in 24 hours but whose navigation skills were questionable and pace iffy.
  • Seeing Stonehenge from the free side of the fence.
  • Wild camping just outside the boundary of Salisbury Plain, seeing a lovely sunset and waking up to a truck flying up the gravel road and putting up a red flag.
  • Walking around Old Sarum for a bit and wondering how the hell they managed to build/dig it all.
  • Grabbing all and any food I could and just shoving it all in my mouth – I ate 6000+ calories on Tuesday!
  • Having a chair to have a rest on.
  • Walking among the stones at Avebury – they're huge! How the hell did they get them there?!
  • Seeing all kings of wildlife: hares, rabbits, buzzards, red kites, deer, a rat.
  • Finding a nice bivvy spot for night two, when I wasn't sure where I'd sleep.
  • Leaving the Ridgeway!
  • Stopping for lunch in Streatley, on the Thames and sitting by the river watching boats come in and out the lock.
  • Passing through Reading without really knowing it, on bike paths basically the whole way.
  • Having a shower at the campsite I booked for the third night, and being out of the wind.
  • Riding through through commons in Surrey that were huge and full of sand.
  • Riding through a ford instead of taking the bridge and mostly keeping my feet dry.
  • Somehow only dabbing once up a long, loose, technical climb up towards Devil's Punch Bowl.
  • Reaching the South Downs Way and knowing vaguely where I was.
  • Making it up Butser Hill, only stopping for the gate.
  • Getting back to Winchester without any injuries or mechanicals!

The section of path just before this was one of the most overgrown I've ever used, It was a relief to emerge. I wonder what number photo of Stonehenge ever taken this is, but this is mine. The easiest way of seeing Stonehenge on this route is to just follow the route as normal, then at Larkhill slightly double back on yourself and go down the byway to the left. I was mostly really lucky with the weather, though there was quite a headwind for the first two days. Wasn't the spot I'd planned to bivvy, but it was one of few areas on day one that I felt comfortable sleeping, as it skirted Salisbury Plain for so long. And it turned out to be a great, if windy, spot. Go into shop, buy lots of food, eat lots of food. Avebury, another amazing stone circle. Hard to tell, but they're massive. I wondered if these stones, not far up the hill away from Avebury, were a coincidence, or related. One of few areas along the section of the ridgeway that KAW follows that seemed good to bivvy. Ha. Campsite on the third night – glad I booked. Big but doable. Indicative of nearly every train journey I've been on with a bike – could do better.