Wareham – Winchester Wild Ride
Originally: a 3 day 400km + Reading to Brighton Via Bath, Bournemouth and New Forest.
The plan was changing rapidly.
Rain and a severe weather front had us on the phone an hour before proposed departure time re-building a GPS route with the suggestions from Instagram posts.
We settled on Weymouth (ended up being Wareham) to Brighton (Ended up being Winchester) with an ultralight bikepacking setup to spend the night with an old friend in New Forest. Checkout Ultralight Cycle Touring for details.
Jumping off at Wareham we decided to cut the train ride to Weymouth short and asking the (very) friendly store owner at the wicked bike shop integrated into the station we had an ad-hoc route taking us throgh some of his recommended – particularly brutal – climbs.
This took us to the number one commented Instagram suggestion of Durdle Door. The weather wasn’t great but that had clearly not driven away the hoards of tourists blocking the roads and footpaths getting to the look out. This mass of slow walking, photo taking tourists coupled with us lugging bikes around definitely detracted from the experiences.
Spectacular as it is go there in a nice day with a picnic and no bikes. Park a good distance away and walk in to avoid the chaos and road rage getting away!
From there we set off back up the hill with a brief stop at ‘the cove’ near by for FRESH DONUTS!!! We weaved our way back towards Wareham and abandoned the GPX file in preference for attractive looking lanes with some google maps assistance.
The lanes were extremely rewarding and a great relief from the strong onshore winds that caught the bike packing setup considerably more than expected.
We took our time with photo stops and curios detours getting us to friends at 8pm. The campsite was at the North of New Forest called Fish Ponds Bottom where, after a large pub dinner and pint at the Local Woodfalls Inn we sat around the camp fire with a damper dessert and a drink.
Thankfully the rain held off and the night under the amazing stars was dry and comfortable (sleeping in Bivi Bags..).
Breakfast was in the local town of Hale where the Co-op supplied croissants and chocolate for teh ride ahead and the neighbouring cafe supplied a simple (great value) eggs on toast and dceent flat white!
The ride started with a gorgeous ride back on ourselves through New Forest Towards Southhampton. In short New Forest = Great, Southampton = not so much and future routes will detour North to Winchester and the South Downs.
That said, after a slow slog through Southampton the weather crept in along with flagging enthusiasm for the busy and congested roads. So plans quickl;y changed from Brighton to Guildford and eventually Garmins directios to Winchester.
All in all a great 2 day trip on the bike with a night under the stars, plenty of wild horses, a heap of lost lanes a landmark sight and great friends!