King Alfred's Way Unpacked

Embarking on the King Alfred's Way on an off-road gravel bike is an adventure that combines the thrill of off-road cycling with the rich tapestry of English history and landscape. Tackling this 350km circular route in just three days is a challenging yet rewarding endeavour, starting and ending in the historic city of Winchester. Here's how to make the most of this expedited journey.

King Alfreds WayDuration and Itinerary

Three days on King Alfred's Way demands a well-planned itinerary, with each day covering over 100 kilometers. This pace suits experienced cyclists who are comfortable with long distances and varied terrain.

Day 1: Winchester to Reading (Approx. 120km)

  • Start early from Winchester, heading towards the North Wessex Downs.
  • The route takes you through ancient landscapes, so pace yourself to manage the distance.
  • Overnight in Reading, where you can find comfortable accommodations like the Roseate Reading.

Day 2: Reading to Amberley (Approx. 115km)

  • Depart Reading, pushing through Surrey Hills and into the South Downs.
  • This leg includes some of the most challenging climbs, so maintain a steady pace.
  • Stay overnight in Amberley, with a recommended stop at the Amberley Castle for a unique experience.

Day 3: Amberley to Winchester (Approx. 115km)

  • The final stretch takes you through the New Forest, completing the loop back to Winchester.
  • Plan for an early finish to celebrate your achievement in Winchester.


Essentials to Carry

  • Compact Repair Kit: Essential for quick fixes on the route.
  • Efficient Navigation Tools: A reliable GPS and backup physical maps.
  • Hydration and High-Energy Foods: Vital for maintaining energy levels.
  • Appropriate Clothing: Lightweight, weather-adaptive cycling gear.
  • Safety Equipment: Helmet, lights, and a basic first aid kit.
  • Lightweight Overnight Essentials: For your stays in Reading and Amberley.

Pearson ON & ONBike Preparation

A well-serviced gravel bike, fitted with durable tires and comfortable gear, is crucial. Given the route's challenging nature, ensure your bike is in top condition.

Choosing Your Team

Given the pace and distance, a small group of 2-4 experienced riders is ideal. This ensures efficiency and consistency in the group's pace, essential for covering such long distances each day.


Route Highlights and Challenges

  • The Ridgeway and South Downs Way: Offers some of the most stunning views but also includes the most challenging climbs and descents.
  • Devil’s Punch Bowl: A natural marvel but demands careful navigation and control, especially on tired legs.

Tips for a Successful Ride

  • Pre-Ride Training: Prepare with endurance rides and hill training.
  • Pace and Breaks: Regular short breaks help maintain a consistent pace.
  • Stay Nourished and Hydrated: Keep energy levels high and hydrate regularly.
  • Respect the Trail and Other Users: Always follow the Countryside Code.


For your adventure on King Alfred's Way, you can access the GPS route to help you navigate the trail. There are a couple of resources available online where you can find the GPS route:

  1. Komoot: This platform provides a detailed route of King Alfred's Way, which can be very useful for your trip. You can access the route at Komoot.

  2. King Alfred's Way Official Website: Additionally, the official website for King Alfred's Way offers a range of resources, including the GPS file for the full route. You can visit their resources page at King Alfred's Way Resources.

These resources will be invaluable for planning your journey, especially considering the ambitious goal of completing the route in three days. They provide not only the route but also important information about the trail conditions, points of interest, and necessary preparations.

Our Recommended Bike For The Trip: Around The Outside 

Here are a few keys points that make Around The Outside a true adventure bike.

  • Sleek Aesthetic, Powerful Performance: The ATO's elegant aesthetic might deceive you, but don't be fooled. It's as capable as a modern mountain bike, ready to tackle any trail or terrain.
  • Titanium Magic: Crafted with high-spec titanium, the ATO provides the shock absorption of steel with the lightweight agility of carbon. It's the perfect balance of durability and performance.

Bike Packing Luggage Options

  • Frame Bags: Fitting inside your bike's frame, these are perfect for heavier gear. They help maintain a low center of gravity and should be chosen for their waterproof features and ease of access.
  • Handlebar Bags: Best for light, bulky items like sleeping gear. It's important that these bags are securely mounted and don't obstruct bike controls or lights.
  • Saddle Bags: Ideal for tools and spares, opt for streamlined designs to minimize drag.
  • Top Tube Bags: For quick access to snacks or a phone, choose a bag with a stable mount.

Recommended luggage brands and their features

1. Ortlieb: Their waterproof, durable bikepacking bags are highly regarded. The handlebar and saddle bags are especially popular for their robustness and ease of use.

2. Osprey: Known for their innovative designs and durability, Osprey offers versatile bikepacking solutions. Their bags are known for ergonomic comfort and practical storage solutions, making them a great choice for longer rides like King Alfred’s Way.

3. Apidura: These bags are lightweight and designed for performance cycling. The top tube and frame bags are particularly favoured for their sleekness and functionality.

Packing Tips

- Balance the weight evenly for better bike handling.
- Keep heavier items low and central to maintain stability.
- Pack frequently used items in accessible places.
- Waterproofing is essential to protect against the elements.


Safety and comfort considerations when loading up your bike.

- Be mindful of the total weight – it affects handling and endurance.
- Do a trial run with your fully packed bike.
- Secure all bags firmly to prevent shifting or loss during your ride.

In conclusion, completing King Alfred’s Way on a gravel bike in three days is an intense yet immensely rewarding experience. It requires careful planning, physical preparedness, and a resilient mindset. With the right team, this journey becomes an unforgettable cycling achievement, offering a unique way to explore the historical and natural beauty of the English countryside.

Read next - Bikepacking Around Iceland - A Wild Adventure >



    Leave a comment

    All comments are moderated before being published