Cycling Roman Britain

MontyVeda

a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
I was watching Great British Car Journeys the other night and they were driving the Fosse Way, a Roman route from Exeter to Lincoln, which the vast majority looked like proper roads and worth avoiding, but some stretches looked like they'd be a nice pleasant ride (eg. The bits that were an uncomfortable drive and bridleway).

There's a thread on CC here discussing the Fosse Way which doesn't make it sound at all attractive... but are there any other Roman routes around the UK that are good to cycle?
 

Slioch

Guru
Location
York
When I lived down south I did bits of the Icknield Way, which runs SW to NE along the northern edge of the Chilterns. Some of it off road, so you'd need a gravel bike or similar.

I'd always fancied linking together the southern part of The Ridgeway with the Icknield Way but never got around to it. That would give a decent historical route from the heart of Salisbury Plain out to The Wash.
 
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There is the Ridgeway which pre dates the Roman period. You can cycle from Avebury Stone Circle to Uffington White Horse .
I'm not sure if it continues beyond in either direction . It ran all the way to the East coast in the past .
 

Heltor Chasca

Out-Riding the Black Dog
I have bikepacked and bivouacked the Southern section of the Ridgeway a couple of times. Avebury to Goring-on-Thames and back. The Northern section beyond that is prohibited to bikes as it is a footpath. But the aforementioned section is best anyway. There are plenty of Roman and Neolithic goodies to see up there.

View: https://youtu.be/zNOZtCCVL48
 

Aravis

Here for the ride.
Location
Gloucester
I have bikepacked and bivouacked the Southern section of the Ridgeway a couple of times. Avebury to Goring-on-Thames and back. The Northern section beyond that is prohibited to bikes as it is a footpath. But the aforementioned section is best anyway. There are plenty of Roman and Neolithic goodies to see up there.
You're making me nostalgic again, Heltor. I grew up in Kingsclere, south-east from Newbury, and once I was old enough to go out on my own I liked to ride up to the Ridgeway, usually on the Wantage road, then along the top plunging down all the rutted drops at terrifying speed, eventually heading home along the Lambourn valley. There were many variations, but that would probably have been the favourite.

Another typical ride went further westwards to Hungerford, then south to a very similar ancient hilltop way which at the time I called the southern ridgeway. It passes Inkpen Beacon and Walbury Hill, the highest chalk hill in Britain, places which some will know. The section which I used to cycle is shorter than the Ridgeway; if I were to say it's better then I'm clearly being biased, but it can't be denied that it has features the Ridgeway would envy.

What never occurred to me at the time was to try and link the two. I'd yet to develop that kind of vision.

If you leave the Ridgeway at Avebury there's a section of another track called the Wessex Ridgeway leading to Marlborough. From there you can follow the Grand Avenue through Savernake Forest, after which a few miles of lanes take you to the ridge of the North Hampshire Downs. Here's what a route might look like - 105.8 miles:

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https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31447787?beta=false

I've started in Kingsclere so that I could begin with some nice lanes to Streatley and the start of the cycleable part of the Ridgeway. Avebury would also be a good starting point. The loop hanging off the bottom includes Chute Causeway, a section of Roman road at a point where even the Romans couldn't keep it straight. I don't know it but it looks intriguing and I think it would enhance the ride.

I was going to say I can't do this now as I don't have a suitable bike. But the bike I used to use in the 1970s was a lead-framed three-speed Sturmey Archer jobby, and I didn't see anything wrong with that at the time. :wacko:
 
I didn't realise Ermine Street was so long I've cycled it, just north of Huntingdon quite a bit over the years. I wouldn't cycle it at peak times though it too full of 'rat run' drivers.

https://www.romanobritain.org/7-maps/map_counties_roads_towns_cambridgeshire.php
Goes all the way to York I think. Not sure were it starts
 
I grew up in Kingsclere in the 70s, too. The nearest Roman road to here/there is Ermin Way, from Gloucester to Silchester. The bit north of Swindon is now mostly the A419/A417 dual carriageway but it's perfectly cycleable from Silchester as far as the Wyevale garden centre in Stratton St Margaret. I live 200 yards from the route now.
 

Aravis

Here for the ride.
Location
Gloucester
I grew up in Kingsclere in the 70s, too. The nearest Roman road to here/there is Ermin Way, from Gloucester to Silchester. The bit north of Swindon is now mostly the A419/A417 dual carriageway but it's perfectly cycleable from Silchester as far as the Wyevale garden centre in Stratton St Margaret. I live 200 yards from the route now.
I know the section of that route between Swindon and Newbury very well. It's a pretty well-known alternative to the motorway, so it does carry a fair amount of fastish traffic (guilty on many occasions :blush:). Also, it runs roughly parallel to the Lambourn Valley road which in my view is close to cycling perfection. A loop heading out on one and back on the other could be good.

Here's another idea, based on a Silchester/Salisbury/Winchester triangle. On the first two legs there are substantial sections where minor roads follow the Roman road courses. If you're happy to ride off-road you could probably follow them more closely. Between Winchester and Basingstoke I can't comment on the suitability of the A33/A30 for cycling. As it runs parallel with the motorway it may be OK, but without the Roman road factor there are certainly better ways.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31450222?beta=false

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MichaelW2

Veteran
Peddars Way is an easy day ride from around Brandon near Thetford, up to Hunstanton. Some nice pub stops, esp The Ostrich at Castle Acre.
Easily doable on a touring bike in summer.
 

pjd57

Veteran
Location
Glasgow
IMG_20191105_144903421.jpg


I went for a look at Bar Hill fort in Twechar. It's part of Hadrian's wall, just off the Forth and Clyde Canal at Twechar.
It's up a very bumpy farm track , with gates, so not ideal cycling territory.
There's quite a few Roman sites within a reasonable distance of the canal path.
But most haven't much to see.
 
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