South West England.
The 170-miles (274km) of The National Byway® route in South-West England was the first section developed by the Byway organisation. It fittingly starts and finishes in Winchester, ancient capital of England. It heads west to Wiltshire and Dorset, into the cradle of English civilisation, along a circular route which can be ridden either way.
This is an ancient part of Britain, where stone ‘henges’ reach mysteriously into the sky, strange figures are cut into the chalk and ancient burial grounds dot the landscape; where Roman roads cut their way direct across the landscape and primeval earthworks stand sentinel in now-peaceful countryside.
Along the way, the Byway’s South-West England route visits Georgian Stockbridge and lovely Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire, as well as the fringes of the New Forest. In Wiltshire there is Old Sarum (the original Salisbury) and the peaceful Wylye Valley en route to Tisbury, where The National Byway’s first-ever Loop was developed. Nearby is the splendour of Old Wardour Castle before the route crosses into Dorset to Shaftesbury, where a dismount is definitely recommended on cobbled Gold Hill.
The Byway continues to the west of Shaftesbury, on to ancient Glastonbury as well as joining The National Byway® West Midlands route at Cirencester.
On the return route into Hampshire the Byway passes through Cranborne Chase and Breamore with its fine Saxon church, then by way of bustling Fordingbridge to the peace of the New Forest. North of here the route rejoins the westward section and returns along the old Roman road to Winchester.