Living and cycling around Radstock we are astonishingly lucky to have three of the world’s most impressive stone circles within range.
Two of them are Unesco World Heritage sites.
It seemed to make sense for this years Summer Solstice Challenge to be an attempt to visit all three within 24 hours.
On our ride we shall start with Stanton Drew, and finish with Stonehenge having witnessed 1500 years of stone building progress within the course of our day.
We start the ride Friday 25th June 6.30pm at the Wheel. Stanton Drew is just under 11 miles and 600 feet of climbing away. We shall briefly explore the 26 standing stones, but the real interest is the “Cove” which predates the circle by a thousand years, and is found in the “Druids Arms” pub garden. Regardless we shall leave for home in good time as legend has it that the Standing stones were cyclists who stayed too late and were turned to stone by the devil.
Saturday 9am finds us at the wheel. 20 miles later via mostly small lanes we are at Eglington farm shop for coffee. We follow the B road through Urchfont, then the delightful Sustrans route 4 to Avebury circle. We have done 42 miles and will stop for an early lunch at the National trust Circles café, and explore the stone circle, the largest of its kind in the world. Its probably 500 years younger than the “Cove” Stanton Drew.
Now we head south , along lanes until Bulford, when a relatively main road takes us to Larkhill, and the back entrance to Stonehenge. This approach is on a paved public bridleway and gives us a free close view of Stonehenge, the most recent of the three, and 1500 years younger than Stanton Drew.. We exit via the visitors café having ridden 66 miles.
We use the pedestrian crossing and pavements of Winterbourne Stoke to cross the A 303, and at 75 miles we are at the Swan at Stowford. For most of us the day is done and we will have a celebratory beer by the river. It is envisaged that there will be a shuttle service taking us mostly back to Radstock. Alternatively route 24 takes back to Radstock by the quiet Wylie valley and Longleat for an extra 34 miles. This takes Saturdays total to 109 miles and 1600m of climbing.