Cycling the Marlborough Downs

The Marlbough Downs has something for everyone; from fast tarmac to challenging off-roading, you can find your freedom across a number of cycling disciplines. Interspersed with villages and towns there is always somewhere to stop and find refreshments!

The Marlborough Downs is lucky to also be part of the Wiltshire Cycleway that encompasses over 160 miles of cycle routes, specifically chosen for the limited traffic flow, making cycling safer and more enjoyable to all involved.

With Swindon to the North, Marlborough to the south, Avebury to the west and Hungerford to the east the downs incorporate some of the most beautiful and historical countryside in the UK. Swindon’s past includes key farming (SwineTown) and industrial Heritage. Brunel’s trains were built in the centre of the town and his transport links are still strong today with easy access to Wales and London, and Manchester and Southampton.

Further back in time you find the Avebury Stones and Silbury Hill, both of which hold significant historical importance. Silbury hill is the largest man-made structure in Europe being built around 2400BC and forms part of the Stonehenge.

Avebury henge and stone circles are one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Built and much altered during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC, the henge survives as a huge circular bank and ditch, encircling an area that includes part of Avebury village. Within the henge is the largest stone circle in Britain – originally of about 100 stones – which in turn encloses two smaller stone circles.

Avebury is part of an extraordinary set of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites that seemingly formed a vast sacred landscape. They include West Kennet Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, The Sanctuary, Windmill Hill, and the mysterious Silbury Hill. Many which can be reached by bike

The Market town of Marlborough has featured in TV shows and still retains a market town feel. Its wide main thoroughfare (the 2nd widest high street in the UK) hosts a bi-weekly market on Wednesday and Saturday. Marlborough hosts an annual literary festival and Recently Rick Stein opened a restaurant. It is reputed that Merlin is buried in the Grounds of Marlborough college which is also the school that the Duchess of Cambridge was educated

There are some great cycling loops incorporating all of these names places, and for the more adventurous Chippenham and Hungerford are in reach.

For those who enjoy mountain biking the Ridgeway offers a great trail to follow. Signposted and maintained the Ridgeway can take you from Wantage to Avebury and offers some great views across Wiltshire into Gloucestershire. You pass ancient forts and While Horses, and get to enjoy the great outdoors to the fullest.

Cycling routes
Road
Swindon – Royal Wootton Bassett – Caln – Avebury – Swindon 38 miles
Swindon – Royal Wootton Bassett – Caln – Avebury – Marlborough – Swindon 46 miles
Swindon – Royal Wootton Bassett – Caln – Avebury – Marlborough – Hungerford – Swindon 58 miles

Mountain Bike
Swindon – Barbury Castle – Swindon 12 miles
Swindon – Barbury castle – Avebury (Via Ridgeway) – Swindon 24 miles

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