National Cycle Route 23: Part 2 - Sandown to East Cowes, Isle of Wight |
National Cycle Route 23: Part 3 - Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire |
National Cycle Route 23: Part 4 - Eastleigh to Alresford, Hampshire via Winchester |
National Cycle Route 23: Part 5 - Alresford to Basingstoke, Hampshire |
National Cycle Route 23: Part 6 - Basingstoke, Hampshire to Reading, Berkshire
National Cycle Route 23 is part of the National Cycle Network. It takes cyclists from the picturesque seaside resort of Sandown on the Isle of Wight to Reading in Berkshire, the route taking 80 miles in total. This, the final section of the route is a 22 mile trip from Basingstoke in Hampshire to Reading in Berkshire. Although the route undulates, it is flatter than the previous section. Expect to cycle this in approximately three hours.
Getting To The Start Of The Route
Basingstoke is very easy to get to. Basingstoke is easily accessible from Junctions 6 and 7 of the M3 and from Junction 11 down the A33 of the M4. It is a town renowned for its plethora of roundabouts. Basingstoke has a busy mainline railway station that is on the London to Southampton South West Main line, the north-south Cross Country line to destinations such as Manchester, Leeds and Scotland and the Great Western line from Basingstoke to Reading and beyond. These train services allow the transportation of bicycles, although carriage may be restricted during busy commuter times.
The route itself begins on the western border of Eastop Park, which is a short distance southeast of Basingstoke Station, which can be easily walked to using Basingstoke's subway system beneath the busy A3010.
Attractions On Route:
This section of National Cycle Route 23 passes many points of interest in the local area. The parts of interest that the route actually passes include:
- Eastop Park, Basingstoke
- Basingstoke Canal Heritage Footpath
- Basing House, former castle.
- Silchester – Roman fortified town and amphitheatre.
- Stratfield Saye House – home of the Duke of Wellington
- Wellington Country Park
- Green Park
- Reading Abbey
- Reading Gaol – famous for Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol & the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk
- Reading's Rising Urinal
Signs and Maps
This section is very well signed, although some signs are located close to hedges and can be difficult to spot. It is recommended that an up-to-date Ordnance Survey1 map is taken.
This section overlaps on two 1:25,000 scale Explorer maps. Explorer 144 Basingstoke, Alton & Whitchurch covers from Basingstoke to Bramley while Explorer 159 Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne covers from Bramley onwards. Landranger Map 185 Winchester & Basingstoke and Landranger Map 175 Reading & Bracknell covers the route on a 1:50,000 scale. On an up-to-date ordnance survey map the route is included as a red/orange2 circular dotted line clearly labelled with '23' in a rectangle.
The route links the two large suburban towns of Basingstoke and Reading. This section uses both along narrow country lanes and cycle paths.
Basingstoke to Old Basing
Head east into Eastop Park, an area busy with children, passing a boating lake and duck pond, playground and public toilets. This section follows the route of the Basingstoke Canal Heritage Footpath which follows the route of the former canal constructed in 1794. Follow the path as it passes beneath bridges of both the A3010 and A339, before coming onto a road, Basing Road, heading east. Before Basing Road curves right turn left onto Swing Swang Lane, crossing over the railway line, before taking the first right onto Bartons Lane heading northeast. Follow Bartons Lane passing where it becomes unsuitable for traffic and becomes a cycle path, following the blue signs. After a short distance it once again becomes a road, where you turn left onto Pyotts Hill. (Turning Right would take you to Basing House, the site of a former castle and Civil War battlesite.)
Old Basing to Chineham
Head north up Pyotts Hill, and it is up, and at the end head onto the cycle path on the left heading west. This path crosses Pecche Place and Elvethem Rise and then heads north, skirting next to Great Binfields Copse on the left. The path crosses Lillymill Chine and follows the shared use pavement north, beneath the A33, along Thornhill Way before heading right along a cycle path away from the road after the roundabout. This path will once again cross Thornhill Way and continue through the heart of Chineham, a suburb of Basingstoke. The cycle route crosses Bowman Road, continue heading north following the cycle path, cross the serpentine Thornhill Way for the third time before the path leads you onto Cufaude Lane, just north of a pub.
Chineham to Bramley
Head north up Cufaude Lane, parallel to the railway line. This section follows Cufaude Lane almost the entire way to the heart of the small Hampshire village of Bramley3. After a short distance Cufaude Lane passes beneath the railway line heading left (west) before winding its way north-west. It passes close to Bramley Camp4. Cufaude Lane finally arrives at a T-junction with a road called The Street. Turn right (northeast) into The Street and follow The Street until the junction with Minchens Lane, where you turn left (northeast). (Following The Street would take you to the heart of the small village of Bramley, where there is a pub, shops and a local railway station on the Basingstoke to Reading line.)
Bramley to Silchester
Head out of Bramley northeast up Minchens Lane, a road which curves to the northwest. Just before the road crosses the railway line head left (northeast) onto Bramley Road. Stay left at the junction with Clappers Farm Road and follow Bramley Road as far as Church Lane. Turn right into Church Lane, a road labelled as unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles. Follow Church Lane north, and the road will gradually become steeper and steeper as it heads to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill a gap in the hedge to the left will reveal the Roman walls of Silchester's Roman fortified town, known to the Romans as Calleva Atrebatum, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The route passes next to the historic walls and soon the cyclist will arrive at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, itself a Grade I Listed building next to the site of Roman temples. With a bench beside a pond, this is an ideal spot to stop, relax and enjoy the historic atmosphere. The amphitheatre is a short distance away north along Church Lane.
Silchester to Stratfield Saye
Continue north-east along Church Lane for a short distance before turning right (east) down Clappers Farm Road (although Silchester's amphitheatre is a short distance north along Wall Lane and well worth a visit before heading down Clappers Farm Road). At the bottom turn left (north) into Pitfield Lane and then take the first right (Park Lane) heading east. Follow Park Lane until the T-Junction with Mortimer Lane. Although it is hoped at a later date that the route will be able to head straight east at this point along 'The Devil's Highway', the former Roman road between London and Silchester, at present the route diverts south following Mortimer Lane. (Heading north at this junction will lead to the village of Mortimer, located just inside the Berkshire border. Mortimer has a railway station in addition to shops and pubs.)
Follow Mortimer Lane south but turn left (east) into Green Lane. This lane leads directly to the small village of Stratfield Saye, where Green Lane reaches a crossroads with Fair Oak Lane to the right (south) and New Street to the left (north).
Stratfield Saye to Beech Hill
Turn left (north) up New Street and, when you come to the junction, turn left (north) up Trowes Lane. (Stratfield Saye House, the Grade I Listed home of the Dukes of Wellington following Waterloo can be reached by taking the road on the right, down Trowes Lane.) At the Fair Cross crossroads turn left (west) into Park Lane, which leads to where the 'Devil's Highway' emerges (heading east would take you to Wellington Country Park). Follow Park Lane as it curves to the north east and look out for the signposted cycle path on your right following Park Lane's curve to the north west. Head northeast along this cyclepath, which will emerge onto Beech Hill Road. Turn right (east) onto Beech Hill Road, heading to the village of Beech Hill. This village is just within the border of Berkshire and contains a pub. (Heading left or west along Beech Hill Road would take you direct to Mortimer Railway Station).
Beech Hill to Green Park
Having crossed over the border in Berkshire continue right (east) along Beech Hill Road, turning left (northwest) at the crossroads before the church into Wood Lane. This road curves to the north, passes Cross Lane and arrives at a T-Junction. Turn left (south-west) into Lambwood Hill before taking the next right (north-east) up Pump Lane, a road which soon heads north.
Continue north, passing the junction with Grazeley Green Road, where Pump Lane becomes Kybes Lane. Follow Kybes Lane as it crosses over the M4 motorway, heading towards lakes made from former gravel pits. Turn right (east) sharply into Smallmead Road, a narrow country lane that leads into Green Park5.
Green Park to Reading
Green Park is an environmentally friendly business area south of Reading. Follow the cycle path south-east through Green Park to Brook Drive, then turn left (north east) along the cycle path net to Brook Drive. After a short distance take the cycle path on your right which will take you beneath the A33 roundabout close to the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading FC. Follow the route of the A33 north on the east of the A33 along the sunken cyclepath next to it alongside the stream, a survivor from when this area was a flood plane of the River Kennet. The cycle path crosses Lindisfarne Way, continue north, and at the River Kennet a subway system takes you beneath the A33, over the bridge next to the west side of the A33 and then the path passes beneath the bridge back to the east of the A33 once over on the other side in a giant loop. This is where the route meets National Cycle Route 4, which is commemorated by a little signpost.
Once over the bridge head right (east) a short distance across Rose Kiln Lane, crossing the stream that you have cycled beside, and take the signposted cycle path north. This cycle path heads through the Waterloo Meadows park and emerges on Elgar Road. Follow Elgar Road left (north) until it curves right (east), and take the subway on your left beneath the busy IDR6. On the other side turn right (east) along the cycle path towards the roundabout. This is near to Reading's busy shopping centre, the Oracle, which is a short distance ahead (east).
At the roundabout turn left (northeast) up Bridge Street, crossing the river Kennet, along the shared cycle path and bus lane. Continue straight ahead at the junction with Castle Lane and Gun Street as Bridge Street turns into St Mary's Butts, passing St Mary's Church, a Grade I Listed building. Continue north along the road as it is renamed West Street and becomes a one way street. At the end by Greyfriar's Church, a Grade I Listed building, turn right (east) into Friar Street followed by an immediate left (north) along Greyfriars Road. This will take you direct to Reading's railway Station, opposite the Grade II Listed statue of King Edward VII.
You have reached the end of National Cycle Route 23.
The town7 of Reading is famous for its invention of the biscuit tin and its world-wide biscuit-making industry between 1822-1976, for the Battle of Reading in 871, which King Æthelred and his brother Alfred the Great lost to the occupying Viking force, the Abbey was used to hold Parliaments in mediæval times, for hosting the Reading Festival and Reading Gaol once imprisoned Oscar Wilde, author of The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
Reading station is one of the largest railway station in England outside London, with frequent connections to London, the North and Scotland, Wales and the west and Gatwick Airport. There are also direct trains to other destinations passed on National Cycle Route 23 including Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton Airport Parkway and Southampton Central stations. To return to Sandown, the start of the route, simply catch a train to Guildford and change there to catch a connecting train to Portsmouth Harbour, then take the Isle of Wight ferry or hovercraft to Ryde Pier, and catch the Island Line Railway back to Sandown.
Alternatively, why not travel from Reading along National Cycle Route 4 east to London, west to Bath, Bristol, Swansea and Fishguard or take National Cycle Route 5 north to Holyhead, Anglesey, via Oxford, Banbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Redditch, Bromsgrove, Birmingham, Walsall, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Colwyn Bay and Bangor.