UK National Cycle Route 23: Part 6 - Basingstoke, Hampshire to Reading, Berkshire Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

UK National Cycle Route 23: Part 6 - Basingstoke, Hampshire to Reading, Berkshire

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UK National Cycle Route 23
Introduction | Sandown to East Cowes, Isle of Wight
Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire | Eastleigh to Alresford, Hampshire via Winchester
Alresford to Basingstoke, Hampshire | Basingstoke, Hampshire to Reading, Berkshire

Cyclists following National Cycle Route 23

National Cycle Route 23 is part of the UK's National Cycle Network. It takes cyclists from the picturesque seaside resort of Sandown on the Isle of Wight to Reading in Berkshire, the route covering 80 miles in total. This Entry describes the final section of the route, a 22-mile trip from Basingstoke in Hampshire to Reading in Berkshire. Although the route undulates, it is flatter than the previous section. Expect to cycle this in approximately three hours.

Getting to the Start of the Route

Basingstoke, a town renowned for its plethora of roundabouts, is very easy to get to. It is easily accessible from Junctions 6 and 7 of the M3 and from Junction 11 of the M4 via the A33. The town has a busy mainline railway station that is on the London to Southampton South West Main Line, the north-south Cross Country line to destinations such as Manchester, Leeds and Scotland and the Great Western line from Basingstoke to Reading and beyond. These train services allow the transportation of bicycles, although carriage may be restricted during busy commuter times.

The section of the route described in this Entry begins on the western border of Eastrop Park, which is a short distance southeast of Basingstoke Station, and can be easily walked to using Basingstoke's subway system beneath the busy A3010.

Attractions En Route

This section of National Cycle Route 23 passes many points of interest in the local area:

  • Eastrop Park, Basingstoke – a park containing a paddling pool and playground in Basingstoke's town centre
  • Basingstoke Canal Heritage Footpath – a footpath following the former Basingstoke Canal
  • Basing House  – former castle
  • Silchester – Roman fortified town and amphitheatre
  • Stratfield Saye House – home of the Duke of Wellington
  • Wellington Country Park – Berkshire's largest country park with a miniature railway, playgrounds, animals and sandpits
  • Green Park – an environmentally-friendly business park outside Reading
  • Reading Abbey – Benedictine Abbey founded by Henry I in 1121
  • Reading Gaol – famous for Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol & the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk
  • Reading's Rising Urinals – the UK's first pop-up public toilets

Signs and Maps

This section is very well signed, although some signs are located close to hedges and can be difficult to spot. It is recommended that an up-to-date Ordnance Survey1 map is taken.

This section overlaps on two 1:25,000 scale Explorer maps. Explorer 144 Basingstoke, Alton & Whitchurch covers from Basingstoke to Bramley while Explorer 159 Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne covers from Bramley onwards. Landranger Map 185 Winchester & Basingstoke and Landranger Map 175 Reading & Bracknell covers the route on a 1:50,000 scale. The route is marked on the maps as a red or orange2 dotted line clearly labelled with '23' in a rectangle.

The Route

The route links the two large suburban towns of Basingstoke and Reading, using both narrow country lanes and cycle paths.

Basingstoke to Old Basing

Head east into Eastrop Park, an area busy with children, passing a boating lake and duck pond, playground and public toilets. This section follows the route of the Basingstoke Canal Heritage Footpath along the former canal constructed in 1794. Follow the path as it passes beneath bridges of both the A3010 and A339, before coming onto Basing Road, heading east. Before Basing Road curves right, turn left onto Swing Swang Lane, crossing over the railway line, then take the first right onto Bartons Lane heading northeast. Follow Bartons Lane, passing where it becomes unsuitable for traffic and becomes a cycle path, following the blue signs. After a short distance it once again becomes a road, where you turn left onto Pyotts Hill. (Turning Right would take you to Basing House, the site of a former castle and Civil War battle site.)

Old Basing to Chineham

Head north up Pyotts Hill, and it is up, and at the end take the cycle path on the left, going west. This path crosses Pecche Place and Elvethem Rise and then continues north, skirting next to Great Binfields Copse on the left. The path crosses Lillymill Chine and follows the shared use pavement north, beneath the A33, along Thornhill Way before heading right along a cycle path away from the road after the roundabout. This path will once again cross Thornhill Way and continue through the heart of Chineham, a suburb of Basingstoke. The cycle route crosses Bowman Road. Continue north following the cycle path, cross the serpentine Thornhill Way for the third time before the path leads you onto Cufaude Lane, just north of a pub.

Chineham to Bramley

Head north up Cufaude Lane, parallel to the railway line. This section follows Cufaude Lane almost the entire way to the heart of the small Hampshire village of Bramley3. After a short distance Cufaude Lane passes beneath the railway line heading left (west) before winding its way northwest. It passes close to Bramley Camp4, finally arriving at a T-junction with a road called 'The Street'. Turn right (northeast) into the Street and follow it until the junction with Minchens Lane, where you turn left (northeast). (Continuing to follow the Street would take you to the heart of Bramley, where there is a pub, shops and a local railway station on the Basingstoke to Reading line.)

Bramley to Silchester

Head out of Bramley northeast up Minchens Lane, a road which curves to the northwest. Just before the road crosses the railway line, head left (northeast) onto Bramley Road. Stay left at the junction with Clappers Farm Road and follow Bramley Road as far as Church Lane. Turn right into Church Lane, a road labelled as unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles, and follow it north. The road will gradually become steeper and steeper as it heads to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill, a gap in the hedge to the left will reveal the walls of Silchester's Roman fortified town, known in ancient times as Calleva Atrebatum, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The route passes next to the historic walls and soon the cyclist will arrive at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, itself a Grade I Listed building next to the site of Roman temples. With a bench beside a pond, this is an ideal spot to stop, relax and enjoy the historic atmosphere. The amphitheatre is a short distance away north along Church Lane.

Silchester to Stratfield Saye

Continue northeast along Church Lane for a short distance before turning right (east) down Clappers Farm Road (although Silchester's amphitheatre is a short distance north along Wall Lane and well worth a visit before heading down Clappers Farm Road). At the bottom, turn left (north) into Pitfield Lane and then take the first right (Park Lane) heading east. Follow Park Lane until the T-Junction with Mortimer Lane. Although it is hoped at a later date that the route will be able to head straight east at this point along 'The Devil's Highway', the former Roman road between London and Silchester, at present the route diverts south following Mortimer Lane. (Heading north at this junction will lead to the village of Mortimer, located just inside the Berkshire border. Mortimer has a railway station in addition to shops and pubs.)

Follow Mortimer Lane south but turn left (east) into Green Lane. This lane leads directly to the small village of Stratfield Saye, where Green Lane reaches a crossroads with Fair Oak Lane to the right (south) and New Street to the left (north).

Stratfield Saye to Beech Hill

Turn left (north) up New Street and, when you come to the junction, turn left (north) up Trowes Lane. (Stratfield Saye House, the Grade I Listed home of the Dukes of Wellington following Waterloo can be reached by taking the road on the right, down Trowes Lane.) At the Fair Cross crossroads, turn left (west) into Park Lane, which leads to where the 'Devil's Highway' emerges (heading east would take you to Wellington Country Park). Follow Park Lane as it curves to the northeast and look out for the signposted cycle path on your right after Park Lane curves to the northwest. Head northeast along this cycle path, which will emerge onto Beech Hill Road. Turn right (east) onto Beech Hill Road, heading to the village of Beech Hill. This village is just within the border of Berkshire and contains a pub. (Heading left or west along Beech Hill Road would take you direct to Mortimer Railway Station).

Beech Hill to Green Park

Having crossed over the border into Berkshire, continue right (east) along Beech Hill Road, turning left (northwest) at the crossroads before the church into Wood Lane. This road curves to the north, passes Cross Lane and arrives at a T-Junction. Turn left (southwest) into Lambwood Hill before taking the next right (northeast) up Pump Lane, a road which soon heads north.

Continue north, passing the junction with Grazeley Green Road, where Pump Lane becomes Kybes Lane. Follow Kybes Lane as it crosses over the M4 motorway, heading towards lakes made from former gravel pits. Turn right (east) sharply into Smallmead Road, a narrow country lane that leads into Green Park5.

Green Park to Reading

Green Park is an environmentally friendly business area south of Reading. Follow the cycle path southeast through Green Park to Brook Drive, then turn left (north east) along the cycle path next to Brook Drive. After a short distance, take the cycle path on your right which will take you beneath the A33 roundabout close to the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading FC. The route now heads north beside the A33, along the sunken cycle path between the road and a stream, a survivor from when this area was a flood plain of the River Kennet. The cycle path crosses Lindisfarne Way: continue north.

At the River Kennet, this description gets rather complicated. Follow the path into the subway which takes you beneath the A33 and up to join the cycle path on the west side of the road. Cross the bridge over the river, turn left, looping back down under the road to re-emerge on the east side of the road. This is where the route meets National Cycle Route 4, which is commemorated by a little signpost. Follow the cycle path around a bend to the right (east) and when you meet the river again, go under the second bridge where Rose Kiln Lane crosses the river. Emerging from under this second bridge, turn left and climb up to the level of the road, then cross the river on the bridge. Once across the river for a second time, take the signposted cycle path north along the east bank of the river.

This cycle path heads through the Waterloo Meadows park and emerges on Elgar Road. Follow Elgar Road left (north), crossing Berkeley Avenue into Katesgrove Lane. Continue until the road curves right (east), and take the subway on your left beneath the busy A329 Inner Distribution Road. On the other side, turn right (east) along the cycle path towards the roundabout. This is near to Reading's busy shopping centre, the Oracle, which is a short distance ahead (east).

At the roundabout, turn left (northeast) up Bridge Street, again crossing the River Kennet, along the shared cycle path and bus lane. Continue straight ahead at the junction with Castle Lane and Gun Street as Bridge Street turns into St Mary's Butts, passing St Mary's Church, a Grade I Listed building. Continue north along the road as it is renamed West Street and becomes a one way street. At the end by Greyfriar's Church, a Grade I Listed building, turn right (east) into Friar Street followed by an immediate left (north) along Greyfriars Road. This will take you direct to Reading's railway Station, opposite the Grade II Listed statue of King Edward VII.

You have reached the end of National Cycle Route 23.


The town6 of Reading is famous for its invention of the biscuit tin and its world-wide biscuit-making industry between 1822 and 1976. The Battle of Reading took place a millennium earlier in 871, in which King Æthelred and his brother Alfred the Great lost to the occupying Viking force. Reading Abbey hosted Parliaments in mediæval times, while Reading Gaol was a host of a different kind, when Oscar Wilde, author of The Ballad of Reading Gaol was imprisoned there. More recently, the town has been host to the Reading Festival.

Going Home

Reading Station is one of the largest railway stations in England outside London, with frequent connections to London, the North and Scotland, Wales and the West, and Gatwick Airport. There are also direct trains to other destinations passed on National Cycle Route 23 including Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton Airport Parkway and Southampton Central stations. To return to Sandown, the start of the route, simply catch a train to Guildford and change there to catch a connecting train to Portsmouth Harbour, then take the Isle of Wight ferry or hovercraft to Ryde Pier, and catch the Island Line Railway back to Sandown.

Alternatively, why not travel from Reading along National Cycle Route 4 east to London, or west to Bath, Bristol, Swansea and Fishguard? National Cycle Route 5, on the other hand, will take you north to Holyhead in Anglesey, via Oxford, Banbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Redditch, Bromsgrove, Birmingham, Walsall, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Colwyn Bay and Bangor.

UK National Cycle Route 23
Introduction | Sandown to East Cowes, Isle of Wight
Southampton to Eastleigh, Hampshire | Eastleigh to Alresford, Hampshire via Winchester
Alresford to Basingstoke, Hampshire | Basingstoke, Hampshire to Reading, Berkshire
1Ordnance Survey is the official British mapping organisation. They have been mapping the UK since 1790, initially for military purposes for the Board of Ordnance, the equivalent of the Ministry of Defence, to assist the defence of Britain in case of an enemy invasion.2The colour of the dotted line depends on the type of map. It is usually red on Landranger maps and orange on Outdoor Leisure and Explorer maps. See the key on the relevant OS map.3Not to be confused with Bramley, Leeds, home of the Bramley apple.4A Great War Prisoner of War camp used as a munitions depot during the Second World War. It is still used by 21 SAS (Reserves), the Berkshire Army Cadet Force, and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Army Cadet Force as well as other regular and TA troops and RAF Odiham for helicopter manoeuvres. It is not open to the public.5There have been frequent proposals to build a railway station close to here. However, at time of writing (May 2013) no progress has been made.6Reading is doomed forever to be a town, despite its being the capital of Berkshire and one of the largest towns in Britain, larger than many cities. Reading has recently bid for city status three times: in 2000 to celebrate the Millennium, losing to Brighton and Hove, in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee, losing to Preston and in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, losing to Chelmsford.

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