There’s something wonderfully refreshing about the Wiltshire Downs. The trails are hardly demanding, yet it has a kind of ‘big sky’ feel that always feels fresh. And if the trails are dry, you really spin those pedals, keeping average speeds well above the norm, making longer outings a lot easier than you’d expect.
This route’s a classic example; nearly 28km long, yet achievable in a morning by even the most trail-rusty mtb’er. The action is split between two rolling downs: Allington Down and Cherhill Down. The former provides a long and very steady climb followed by a fast and furious grassy descent on a narrow shelf of track that weaves between the ancient earthworks of Rybury. The latter demands much more of both lungs and technical abilities, with a steep and narrow climb on a chalky surface that doesn’t like wet weather; and a full-on, fairly technical drop, again on chalk, which is lethal after a shower.
Linking the two is a long section of tarmac, but there’s no real off-road alternative, and rounding it all off is a well-surfaced, easy loop that reaches out towards the historic settlement of Avebury before turning back on good trails to the finish.
It would be easy to shorten it by a few K’s if you really needed to — just hook up with the Old Bath Road (Green Lane) and take that east on Cherhill. It would be easy to extend a bit too, by either starting on Morgan’s Hill and following the Wessex Ridgeway, or by heading east beyond Avebury onto the Marlborough Downs proper.