Checkpoint Numbers & Names
Wiltshire 3 – Lacock
Wiltshire 6 – Alton Priors
After a somewhat overcast day on the BCQ the previous day I was a little dubious about being able to do a second day but the forecast was for temperatures around 20-22oC and for once the forecasters were spot on. So after an easy hours drive to my planned starting point at the car park on Pewsey Downs, it was time to make the short 1.5 mile ride in to Alton priors to the first checkpoint of the day.
The checkpoint here is an old semi-disused church, and was actually not as easy to find as expected. The church was visible from the road, but there was no obvious way to get to it. However after a couple of tries I eventually found a way in using a public footpath through a field of cows. Once the answer to the question had been photographed it was time to backtrack (through the cow field) and make way to the other checkpoint of the day in Lacock some 18 miles away, As I left Alton Priors I was greeted with the great sight of one of the many white horses carved in to the hillside which this part of the country is famous for.
Wiltshire has what can be politely described as ‘undulating’ scenery and the ride led me out towards Allington and Horton across some of this scenery before joining the Kennet and Avon Canal for a few miles in to Devizes. After passing through Devizes with a short stop at the impressive Caen Hill Locks it was on through the roads to Rowde and farm tracks to Sandridge and Bewley Common and eventually arriving in Lacock.
Lacock is famous for it’s Abbey and being the birthplace of William Henry Fox Talbot, the man who invented photography, and there are plenty of places here to explore and stop for a well-deserved refreshment break. So, after finding somewhere to safely leave my bike for a while I made the most of my National Trust membership and took the opportunity to visit both the Abbey and the Fox-Talbot museum both of which were fascinating places where I could have spent the entire day had I nor still had another twenty miles or so to cycle back to the car, in fact I was so engrossed in the attractions that I nearly left the village without visiting the checkpoint – indeed I had to turn around at the edge of the village and go back!
I generally try to avoid re-tracing my steps on any rides I do where I can, but today I really wished I had done that – The route I chose out of Lacock (to the north along Mons Lane) took me up by far the longest and most savage hill that I had ridden on the BCQ, with a gradient that reached around 13% at one point, and was the first one in a long time that I had to stop half up and take a breather and a drink before proceeding.
Once at the top of the hill it was a great freewheel / easy ride downhill through Sandy Lane and Whetham then on to Calstone. From Clastone my route then linked up with the main A4 for another long uphill slog at Cherhill where there is a good example of a White Horse carved in to the nearby hill side. Initially I was dubious about taking such a bust road as the A4 for a chunk of my return ride but it wasn’t too bad as the road is very wide in this stretch, and the car drivers all passed with plenty of room, even if they were going a little faster than I would have liked. After following the A4 onward for a few miles through Beckhampton and West Kennet, it was time to turn slightly south and off the A4 to East Kennet and Boreham and back to the starting point.
This ride was a lot lot tougher than I had envisaged when I planned it, and I was left aching and tired, but it had been a good day out on the BCQ again and with a lot of exploring and sightseeing done in to the bargain it was definitely one of the highlight days of the BCQ so far.
Miles Cycled – 38
Checkpoints Visited – 2
Total Miles Cycled – 902
Total Checkpoints Visited – 52
Click here to download a gpx file for this ride