A love of campervans and the great outdoors often go hand in hand with other hobbies. Chief among these is the popular sport of cycling. Taking to two wheels means you’re able to leave the van on site and explore, without the worry of damaging your vehicle’s paintwork or wondering where you’ll park.
And it’s not just narrow country lanes and busy urban streets that are made easier to navigate. There’s a vast network of cycleways and byways that go deep into the UK countryside, just waiting to be explored.
The new King Alfred’s Way cycling route is the latest addition to the national cycling network and will take you far back into our nation’s history. Read our guide to find out more.
But with 10,000 years of history, 220 miles and four counties to explore, it’s vital you don’t leave home without proper insurance for campervans.
Remember, cover from Motorhome Protect doesn’t just protect your van, it can also protect the contents like bikes, too.
All hail King Alfred’s Way!
King Alfred’s Way is a thrilling long-distance adventure trail for cyclists (and walkers) developed by the charity Cycling UK.
Over three years the charity worked to connect four existing National Trails – the South Downs Way, the North Downs Way, the Ridgeway and the Thames Pathway – by painstakingly upgrading everything from footpaths to bridleways.
The fitting start of the 220-mile (350km) circular route is the statue of ninth century ruler King Alfred the Great on the High Street in the ancient cathedral city of Winchester.
From there the trail winds its way through the ancient kingdom of Wessex with stops in Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire.
History buffs will be busy on the route as it takes in the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Stonehenge and Avebury, Salisbury Cathedral and the ancient sites of Old Sarum, the Uffington Horse, and Barbury Castle.
The area’s natural history is also a joy to behold on the route as it passes through a mix of terrains, from Salisbury Plain to the Surrey heathland and the challenging uplands of the South Downs.
Away from the hustle and bustle of modern life you’re sure to experience the landscape as our ancient ancestors may have done.
How to cycle the King Alfred Way – some common questions
Cycling UK has produced an excellent booklet on the route you can download or order as a printed guide. We strongly recommend taking a look before setting off on what can be a challenging journey.
How long will it take?
This really depends on the kind of cyclist you are, but at 220 miles, it will probably take most cyclists between four and five days to complete if you want to stop off and explore on the way.
The route was designed for those with a decent level of fitness and some experience of off-road riding. Weather is also a factor you need to consider.
What kind of bike do I need?
Around 80-85% of the route is on bridleways and byways, which provide a challenging mix of gravel tracks, woodland trails, sandy heathland, canal towpaths and rural lanes.
Cycling UK recommends that the route is perfect for gravel or adventure bikes. But a decent touring bike or hybrid with fairly wide tyres would also be suitable.
However, if you’re riding when it’s very wet then a sturdy mountain bike might be better for some sections.
With the growing popularity of e-bikes keep in mind that there are some sections of the route where you’ll be far from convenient charging points.
Salisbury Plain and the Ridgeway in particular could be troublesome if you haven’t rationed your battery use!
With the latest technology and cutting-edge construction, a decent modern bike can be a costly investment.
When you take them out on tour, your bikes also need protecting. Contact the team at Motorhome Protect to find out if your campervan insurance covers them, too.
Where can I stay?
Having a campervan with you means you’ll probably want to return to it every night if you can.
One of the most convenient things about King Alfred’s Way is that it passes through or close to Winchester, Salisbury, Swindon, Reading and Farnham.
So, if you park your campervan near one of these then you could do a linear route to the next train station and then return by rail at the end of the day.
Alternatively, you could connect the trail with nearby rights of way and cycle routes to create your own loop back to your van.
If you want to tackle the whole thing in one go as part of a bike-packing trip then there are several excellent campsites available along the route.
- If you want to make Salisbury Plain your base, Stonehenge Touring Park is a small family run site that makes the perfect place to stop after a hard day in the saddle.
- Andersey Farm is a rustic and very peaceful working farm in Wantage (the very birthplace of King Alfred in 849). However, it is a Caravan and Motorhome Club Certificated Location, which accepts just five campervans or motorhomes and is for Club Members only.
- Enter a different world when you pass through the bridge into Brockland Farm’s beautiful campsite. It’s hidden in a secluded valley within the South Downs National Park.
If you prefer wild camping then the route provides some perfect opportunities to tuck yourself away in a quiet spot far from prying eyes.
It’s important to remember wild camping is illegal in England if you don’t ask permission from the landowner. And remember the number one rule: leave no trace.
Protect your vehicle with campervan insurance
Choosing cover from Motorhome Protect is the perfect way to get your adventure off to a great start.
Our dedicated team will find you the cover you need from our panel of leading insurers. Benefits of campervan insurance through us can include:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Cover for your campervan while you are converting it
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Discounts if you’re a member of a campervan or motorhome club
- Cover for vehicles up to £150,000
Call Motorhome Protect to get a quote today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.