Hawley Lake wasn’t one of J’s regular mountain bike routes. In fact, the only reason we tried it out was because I kept seeing pretty pictures shared to one of the local Facebook groups. I thought that it seemed like a nice place to check out.
Fleet to Hawley Lake
The route to Hawley Lake from Fleet is a nice ride in itself. We like to go via Fleet Pond, then across Fleet Road and through a pathway through the woods. This leads to a meadow which sometimes has friendly cows grazing. It is gorgeous in the early evening light and sometimes I sit for a few minutes and appreciate how lucky we are to live here.
If you go straight across the meadow from the gate, you come out on Bramshot Lane. This is a quiet lane that has road access for a few houses and very little traffic. Soon the road becomes a gravel track bridleway and runs parallel to the Motorway. Just off to the left in a small copse of woods is a bike park with jumps and drop offs. I’ll be completely straight with you, I have never checked it out. Even from a distance it is very clear that it is way beyond my skill level. If you are braver than I, you can find it at what3words location ///bulge.panting.crimson
There is a bit of a high curb so be careful of your pedals and gears. Here you leave the bridleway and rejoin the road to cross the motorway. Once you are over the bridge you take the cycleway to the left and follow it all the way down past a housing estate and into Hawley Lake.
If you are approaching from Fleet, the first thing you come across is the lake itself. A lot of families gather here to feed the waterfowl or chill out with a picnic. It has some of the best views across Hawley Lake from here so it is always popular. The lake has been used as a film location for the James Bond film Die Another Day. The surrounding woods were used for Avengers: Age of Ultron. We usually grab a quick drink here and watch the ducks before following the track around to the right to start our ride.
The first time I rode around Hawley Lake, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of the riding on offer. There are wide tarmacked fire roads, smaller gravel paths and some great single-tracks to be found hidden between the trees. I’ve ridden there several times now and am still finding new, fun trails each and every time. I fully plan on taking a whole day to do a thorough explore one day very soon.
A quick word of warning though. Hawley Common surrounding the lake is a MOD training area and we have often found ourselves face to face with armed soldiers on patrol drills. They are always very friendly and helpful and we have never found access to be restricted to the public. Do make sure that you check any safety notices and expect to hear loud noises and possibly gunfire. Obviously, never pick up discarded ammunition shells.
Where to Ride at Hawley Lake
If you are looking for a family friendly ride then follow the wider tracks around the perimeter of the lake. These offer good safe cycling. For something a little more technical and off-road, then I would suggest riding to the north east of the lake, up some short steep hills and under and across the line of telegraph poles. The woods are quieter this side and there are trails that look promising. I have found a few good drop-offs through the trees but I’m sure there are tons more to be found. I tend to start here and then follow my instincts back towards the lake, investigating any promising tracks as the mood takes me. Feel free to check out my rides on Kamoot if you want some inspiration.
Mind The Sand!
The terrain varies a lot around Hawley Lake, from gravel to hard earth to some really deep sandy patches. The latter has caught me out a few times as I’ve emerged from the trees at speed and almost flung myself off as my tyres skidded on the sand. This is particularly true around the area to the small pond to north of the lake. There is really good riding here, with a good drop that leads straight into a nice single-track just to the side of the pond. I’m getting braver at attacking this but I’m still not as fast as J. This area is popular with mountain bikers and you often see other riders around here.
After we have had our fill of exploring we head back down to the lake by Hawley Sailing Centre (which has car parking). It is on this final straight between the sailing centre and looping back around to the start of Hawley Lake that we most often find troops training. So just be mindful and be prepared to stop if you need to. Obviously they are usually in camouflage gear so the can take you by surprise if you aren’t paying attention.
Ride Length: Approx 3.5 miles for the perimeter of the lake following the fire roads.
Time Taken: 30 mins + depending on how much exploring you do.
Elevation: The route around the pond is pretty flat but there are some very short, steep hills if you are investigating the single-track options.
Extend the ride: Head over to Minley Manor, Yateley Common or Hawley Meadows to pick up the Blackwater Valley Cycle Route