Day 24: 28th May 2018 – Wiltshire

Checkpoint Numbers & Names
Wiltshire 4 – Hanging Langford
Wiltshire 5 – Broad Chalke

Day 24 was the middle day of a three day camping trip in north Dorset, which gave me good access to a couple of checkpoints in the southern part of Wiltshire, so with the hybrid racked on the car and the route planned it was time to hit the road to Cranborne where I had decided to start my ride.

Once on the road from Cranbourne the road was a long gentle climb up through Boveridge, a climb which carried on for another mile or two. After about 3 miles the road ran out and turned in to nothing more than a dirt track, which itself then turned in to nothing more than a footpath as it passed over the ridge of Martin Down and a bumpy chalk footpath on the other side – Fortunately mapping failures like this are rare, but do occur occasionally.

So having reached the end of the path and back on the road I passed in to and through the small village of Martin, however the respite wasn’t too last very long as it was back to another uphill stretch as the quiet road wound its way through some pleasant countryside before a steep downhill cruise in to Broad Chalke and the first checkpoint at the church. To m dismay as I approached the church I could see that there was a wedding part gathering and not wanting to intrude I didn’t think I would get to the checkpoint itself. Fortunately the wedding party were just about to enter the church so after waiting just a few minutes the checkpoint which is in the gateway to the church was clear and the obligatory picture was taken.

St Mary & St Nicholas church in Wilton

Broad Chalke lies in the valley of the River Ebble, and the next three miles or so were on roads that were broadly parallel to the river through the villages of Stoke Farthing and Bishopstone before turning north for a steep climb up the side of the valley for a mile or so before going back down the other side in to Wilton where it was time to stop and visit a local cafe for tea and cake as I knew the next few miles were all going to be relatively flat and the refreshment wouldn’t lie too heavy for a while as I was leaving the village I couldn’t help but stop at the magnificent looking church and take a picture.

Having refreshed it was back on the road which was parallel running with the River Wylye which brought me to Great Wishford. From here the route turned westward again through the fields and farms as I headed towards ‘The Langfords’ where I would find the second and final checkpoint for the day in ‘Hanging Langford’ which was easy to find as it was on the main road through the village. With little more than a few houses in Hanging Langford there was nowhere to stop for lunch so I decided to press on a little further and was rewarded a couple of miles down the road when I came in to the village of Wylye where I happened upon a nice pub with the obligatory local real ale to be sampled.

From Wylye it was time to turn south and head back towards the start point, and checking the route out over lunch I knew it was going to be a hilly one with three steep climbs to come. So, no sooner had I left Wylye the road started going up through the featureless terrain of Wylye Down nature reserve before dropping down the other side in to the village of Dinton and a well deserved breather. No sooner had I left Dinton it was another short sharp uphill and then a drop down in to Fovant and a short stretch along the A30.

After a few hundred yards I turned off the A30 and proceeded to go up hill yet again, and whilst struggling up the hill towards Fifield Bavant I had one of the most bizarre experiences to date on the BCQ. This hill was particularly steep in places and being a bit slow, it wasn’t long before a bus came up behind me and the doors opened but I couldn’t hear what the driver was shouting. When I pulled over at the next passing point to let it pass the driver apologised and said she wasn’t shouting at me, she was offering me a lift! Needless to say I retained my honour and struggled up the rest unaided and back down the other side to Fifield Bavant itself.

The road from Fifield Bavant to Bowerchalke

From Fifield I knew that I had a short relatively flat run for a couple of miles before hitting the third and final steep climb of the day, and I was certainly glad of the rest for a bit as I cruised through Bower Chalke, Misselfore and Woodminton after which I hit a short half mile climb that was as steep as 10% in places, but knowing this was the last major climb of the day kept me going to, and over, the top. Once over the top it was downhill again in to Sixpenny Handley, over the A354, and a nice straight run back in to the start at Cranbourne.

All in all this was one of the harder days I’d had on the BCQ, not just because there were a number of very steep hills to be negotiated along the route, but also because the route was mainly quite featureless – the roads were all generally very quiet and, the villages picturesque and pretty but in contrast there was very little to see or stop at along the way of interest. The sense of achievement after tackling the hills was pretty good, but if you’re going to follow this route be prepared for a long, tough day.

Miles Cycled – 44
Checkpoints Visited – 2
Total Miles Cycled – 841
Total Checkpoints Visited – 48

Click here to download a gpx for this ride

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