Past Ride

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Sun Aug 7th 2016
Uffington to Avebury Off-road 3*
David Smith
Start Time:
9:30 am
Start Location:
Uffington White Horse Car Park
An opportunity to ride foot-loose and traffic-free along one of Britain's oldest roads...

Rated 3* for off-road distance only, 2* for off-road technicality - on average, compared to the terrain the regular Tuesday-night off-roaders tackle, this is probably off-road-lite, with some rutted sections and a gravelly descent of Barbury Castle, being the main challenges. That said, it IS off-road and NOT suitable for road bikes.

From the White Horse, we will follow the Ridgeway westwards over Liddington and Barbury castles to it's proper start/end at Ovington Hill. A short section of road alongside the avenue of stones takes us into Avebury for lunch at the NT cafe. Picnic area available if you prefer to bring your own.
The proposed return route crosses the Ridgeway and follows the Herepath and Manton Down to Ogbourne St Maizey to join the Chiselden and Marlborough Railway path.
Alternatively, if you fancy a bash at ascending Barbury followed by the simply smashing Smeathes Ridge grassy downhill, we could return on the Ridgeway and join the Railway path at Ogbourne St. George.
In either case, we pop out at the Three Trees Farm Shop for a drinks/icecream stop if desired. Then a short hop on the 'Old Ridgeway' back to Fox Hill where we will pick up the Ridgeway trail again for the final leg.
Approx. 70km in total.

Meet at the Uffington White Horse car park - £4/day - or for a free option try Uffington Village Hall (Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall) car park and a short ride out to meet us.
An unexpected drizzle in the air and an unwelcome cool westerly didn't make for a perfect start to the day. Nevertheless, spirits were upbeat as we set off from the car park. Plenty of chatting indicated how easy the initial Ridgeway trail was, with an occasional hand-signal to a hole indicating some of our contingents more usual roadie environment. Fox Hill didn't seem to warm us up much and Nick became the target of some envious looks as he stopped to put a long-sleeved wind-proof on. Not to worry, by the time we had puffed our way up to Liddington Castle, patches of blue sky could be seen over the Eiffel Tower in Swindon heading our way. It was Nick's turn to be envious as we reached the Ridgeway crossing above Ogbourne St. George as we told him how we had climbed the 17% hill a couple of weeks previous. I think that's been added to his list now :). After a slight correction to the leader's enthusiastic straight-on route was taken to get us back on the Ridgeway, we were downhilling to Ogbourne and onto the gated drag to Barbury Castle. Unfortunately, this was more draggy than usual as we were still into the wind. To add to the challenge, the freshly mown hay had not yet been baled and our well-oiled chains proved to be a magnet for it. I've de-greased a chain before but never de-grassed it! The downhill from Barbury was shorter than I remember, and it was just a short hop over Hackpen before we hit the rutted section that took us all the way to the Ovington Hill start/end of the trail. We followed the avenue of stones into Avebury for lunch outside at the NT café which was in bright sunshine and buzzing with tourists.
Opting for route no. 1 for the return, due to the fact that the Smeathes Ridge downhill was going to be more hay'd work than way-hay, we climbed out of Avebury, crossed the Ridgeway and headed onto the Manton Downs, all fairly easy-going, although Phil's emergency braking system gave us all a scare at one point. A slightly thistly adventure was had on some uncharted bridleway, before the road through Ogbourne St. Maizey brought us to the Marlborough-Chiseldon Railway path. The pace picked up a little on the flat and cyclists coming towards us seemed to feel the need to stand aside to let us pass which we attributed to the leaders serious cake-face. As a result, we reached the café with plenty of time for tea, cake and some curious refreshment. All that was left then was the 'Old Ridgeway' road section and a re-tracing of our outward route from Fox Hill back to Uffington Castle in glorious sunshine and with the wind behind us. Phil continued towards home by climbing up to the castle and beyond, while the rest of us called it a day and simply did a celebratory lap of the car park.
A lovely day, thanks to everyone for riding out.
71.92 km (44.69 mi)
Comment on this ride


Written by : Phil

Posted on : August 18, 2016 at 8:05 AM

A delightful ride for a habitual roadie, many thanks David for a great day out with much to recommend a repeat in the future.

Ride Filter
Start Locations
Wantage Market Place
Old Mill Hall, Grove
1* - Suitable for irregular, social, beginner or family riders, pace will match the slower riders. Not hilly or long. Expect rides up to 3 hours. Gentle exercise.
2* - Suitable for regular riders who prefer to cover some distance but at a more relaxed pace. Likely to be half-day rides. Solid exercise.
3* - Suitable for experienced riders, may be hilly, long, quick, or any combination! Likely to be half or full-day rides. Challenging exercise.
4* - Suitable for athletic riders who can ride safely above the 3* standard. Quick rides for the fit.
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