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Cycling to Bournemouth [May. 1st, 2006|09:12 pm]
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Hilary and I cycled down to Bournemouth. On Thursday we did a massive 65 miles, Friday 40, and Saturday another 40!

We started off following National Cycle Route 5, which took us through Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford, then into Reading. This bit was a nice cycle, and very well signed (not only NR signs at every junction, but also at periodic intervals just to reassure you you were going the right way). From Reading we headed south to Basingstoke, following the shiny new NR23 for much of it (we did take the odd short cut). Finally, we were forced to cycle along some A roads to get to our B&B!

After a refreshing night in a delightful B&B (Oakdown Farm - the owner even drove us to Sainsbury's to buy food!), we set off for Winchester. We failed to find the NR23, so took some nice back roads. After a trip to the City Mill (a very nice NT owned water mill), we headed on to Southampton. This proved to be rather tricky - Hampshire suck at cycle routes. Where there is one shown on the map, there will be no evidence of it on the ground. Where there is one on the ground, it will be badly signed (too infrequent signs, useless destinations), and they will abruptly end without any indication of where to go then. Often, they'll dump you on an A road! Compared to Oxfordshire and Berkshire, Hampshire was truly shit for cycle routes :(

We eventually made it to Hythe on the passenger ferry (which wasn't signed - we had to guess based on the map then ask people once we got to the right pier), and on to our second B&B. We popped into Hythe for dinner, then crashed out once again.

On Saturday, we cycled through the New Forrest to Brockenhurst (largely avoiding the New Forrest cycle routes, as they weren't racing bike suitable), then on to Christchurch. We knew we'd then reached Dorset because suddenly cycle route signs appeared! The sun was shining, and the roads not too busy, so this was a nice bit of the trip. Once we'd cleared Christchurch we headed onto the prom, sped along the sea to Bournemouth, and up to my parents house.

Overall, it was a nice ride, but with the first day perhaps a tiny bit too long. We'd advise anyone trying it alter their second day - take back roads from Baisingstoke to Winchester (since the cycle route isn't marked there's no point trying to follow it), then get on a train. Skip the whole Winchester - Southampton bit (by far the worst on the whole route), get off at Southampton Central and walk the short distance to the Hythe Ferry (follow the WightLink signs, it's on the same pier as the passenger services). Then carry on from Hythe.

From: (Anonymous)
2006-05-23 02:18 pm (UTC)

Basingstoke to Winchester

Wow... I admire your courage in doing Oxford to Basingstoke in a day. I've done Oxford->Reading and Reading->Winchester, but each of those are a little shorter.

NR23 Basingstoke to Alresford is actually signposted... except it's very, very intermittent Basingstoke itself. If you can find your way to the village of Cliddesden (just to the south of Basingstoke) you can pick it up there. It's a great ride.

Alresford to Winchester isn't signposted yet, but it's easy-ish to follow if you print out the dynamic maps of the proposed route from the Sustrans site (requires patience of a saint while you wait for the maps to be generated).

Haven't done south of Winchester, I'm afraid!

Richard Fairhurst
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From: gagravarr
2006-05-23 02:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Basingstoke to Winchester

We were staying just south of Baisingstoke, so we decided not to go looking for the NR23, and just follow nice country back roads :)
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