Distance: 10 Miles Difficulty: Easy
This gorgeous cycle ride follows what is now a disused railway line that used to go from Fareham to Alton. Apart from the start or finish you are totally road traffic free and this cycle path pretty much follows the Meon River so elevation changes are fairly modest.
This is a bike ride that can be tackled by any bike other than road bikes and by all ages. In fact my son and I cycle this beautiful route frequently. This is easily a round trip by getting to the end and retracing your routes back, but for this example we have made it a one direction which starts from a wonderful cake shop and finishes at a wonderful public house with some great food and of course some famous Hampshire ales.
Lilly’s Tea and Coffee rooms offer some fantastic home cooked cakes, soups and sandwiches. Stock up on these as you head off a get onto the trail to the North of the village.
Head out of Lillys' and to the start. This cycle ride is flattish in most places and follows the old railway line, so is now cycled under a tunnel of trees. Start at Wickham car park next to the trail just off of Station Close and cycle up on to the disused railway line.
We head north towards our final stop in West Meon, following the beautiful Meon Valley, with its gorgeous river and watercress farms. Time to complete should be 1 hour, but my son and I take about 30 minutes more as we often stop to spot the wildlife. You can really appreciate the history of this old railway line that connected Fareham to Alton, in a way it is really nice the history has been preserved into what is now a fantastic cycle route. You go under old bridges, even an old station where the tracks go from one lane to two. I say tracks as none are there, but you can still see the markings in places where they were. There are many idyllic villages along the way and some really cycle friendly pubs, and shops. The Thomas Lord at West Meon is one great pub that serves some amazing food. We have visited many times and in the summer or winter is very welcoming to bike riders. Towards the end of the ride you do start climbing away from the river a little bit as you head onto the South Downs and eventually you reach the village of West Meon.
Turn left into the High street and the Upham Brewery owned The Thomas Lord is on your right hand side. This pub has always been fantastic for food, and still today the Sunday roasts are simply to die for.
Upham Brewery are not just famous for well run pubs, they run a fantastic brewery at Upham just west of Bishops Waltham. They produce three beers all year with other specials depending on the season. One of my favourites is the EPA which has won many awards.