Discover Bourton-on-the-Water cycle routes to suit every ability

Bourton-on-the-Water cycle routes

While many visit the Cotswolds for its flat bike rides, some riders crave a little variety – and Bourton-on-the-Water cycle routes certainly don’t disappoint them!

Beautiful Bourton-on-the-Water is called the Venice of the Cotswolds, famed for its beautiful honey-coloured Cotswold stone houses, five historic low bridge built between the 17th and early 20th Centuries, and its dreamy river views over the river it straddles, the Windrush.

It’s an excellent base for exploring the north of the Cotswolds by bike, and it’s home to a 1930s model village, a scale replica of Bourton itself, the Cotswold Motoring Museum with its toy collection and vintage cars, and Birdland, where king penguins, owls, and parrots meet life-size dinosaur figures. So, it attracts all sorts of visitors and cyclists of all abilities, and it has routes that involve steep climbs and descents, undulating sections, and flat parts. Thankfully, there’s something for every cyclist in this picturesque part of the world.

There are Bourton-on-the-Water cycle routes for all abilities:

Easy Route

The Cotswold Discovery Ride

The Cotswold Discovery Ride – This easy 18-mile road cycle route through glorious countryside is suitable for all fitness levels with good paved and tarmac surfaces. It starts at the Cotswold School on The Avenue. Take Station Road, Moore Road, and Lansdowne to Fosse Way, then head out of the village on Buckle Street, then turn onto the road to Lower Slaughter, a picture postcard village where you can stop for an ice cream. You will need to dismount in Lower Slaughter as riding in the village itself isn’t allowed.

Head out towards Upper Slaughter and watch out for a good resting point at the old post box and parish noticeboard two miles outside Lower Slaughter. At Upper Slaughter, you’ll see more picturesque houses, including those around The Square reconstructed in 1906 by the famed architect Sir Edward Lutyens, St Peter’s Church, the remains of a 12th Century castle, and the Lords of the Manor Hotel, a 17th Century manor which is now a country house hotel.

Re-join Buckle Street for a while and enjoy the fields and woods as you cycle out towards Naunton, following the meandering roads towards Condicote, past Upper Swell, through Lower Swell, to join the Copse Hill Road back through Lower Slaughter and down Pike Lane to Fosse Way and back to your starting point in Bourton. Treat yourself to a cup of tea in one of the many tea rooms as a reward!

This route takes around 1 hour 45 minutes, and you’ll ascend and descend a total of 975ft. 

Intermediate Route

The Bourton-on-the-Water to Burford Loop cycle route

The Bourton-on-the-Water to Burford Loop cycle route – Start this 32.5-mile road route at Bourton and head out towards Stow-on-the-Wold, Bledington, and Bruern, skirting the wood into Milton-under-Wychwood and Shipton-under-Wychwood.

When you reach Swinbrook at just after 19 miles, stop a while and take in the stunning scenery at the welcoming Swan Inn. Enjoy the wide-open spaces with wonderful views across the fields at Whitney Lane, then sweep into the picturesque town of Burford, famed for its three-arch medieval bridge, its impressive church, and its historic houses and shops.

You can follow in the footsteps of Lord Nelson, who dined there, and King Charles and Nell Gwynn, who stayed in a local hotel. You can also visit England’s oldest pharmacy, established in 1734, and drop into the Tolsey Museum to learn about the town’s history.

There are also many restaurants, cafés, and pubs. Return via Little Barrington and Windrush, visiting the 12th Century St Peter’s Church. The highest elevation on this route is 775ft and you’ll climb and descend a total of 1,650ft. This ride takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes, and you’ll need a good level of fitness. 

Difficult Route

The Bourton to Stratford-upon-Avon loop cycle route

The Bourton to Stratford-upon-Avon loop cycle route– This is a challenging 70-mile road route suitable for expert riders that takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes, or more if you decide to make several stops. You will need to have a very good level of fitness and be prepared for uneven road surfaces in parts which are difficult to ride.

Head out of Bourton on Fosse Way and Buckle Street to Cutsdean Hill and up towards Broadway Hill. Just before reaching Broadway Hill, you’ll find a good stop-off point at a café serving snacks, drinks, ice cream, and cakes. There’s lots of bike parking and outdoor seating.

Four miles later, you’ll reach The Narrows and Dover’s Hill viewpoint, where you can stop and soak up the amazing views.

Take Kingcomb Lane to Paul’s Pike and join the Campden Road to Mickleton, then travel north to Long Marston. Take Station Road to Milcote and join the cyclist-friendly Stratford Greenway over the Rivers Stour and Avon to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Take a break in the home of William Shakespeare and visit his house or wander down to the river and enjoy the sunshine at one of the bars, cafés, or restaurants near the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Cycle through this historic town centre over the Clapton Bridge and onto the Tiddington Road, Loxley Road, and Stratford Road to Loxley and Wellesbourne, where you’ll find another potential stop off point with cafés and pubs.

Take the Walton Road back towards Pillerton Hersey, Idlicote, Honington, Todenham, Barton-on-the-Heath, Kingham, and Little Rissington, and back into Bourton. The highest elevation is 1,50ft, and you’ll ascend and descend a total of 3,025ft. 

Other places to visit by bike from Bourton-on-the-Water

Stow-on-the-Wold – The highest town in the Cotswolds will give you a magnificent view. Visit the lively market square surrounded by historic buildings for a wide selection of tea rooms, art galleries, independent stores, and antique shops, and sit a while to drink in the atmosphere. Drop by St Edward’s Church and see the ancient yew trees that are said by some to have inspired Tolkein’s Middle Earth and see the historic village stocks at the Old Stocks Hotel.

Toddington Steam Railway

Toddington Steam Railway – There’s a 12.6-mile cycle from Bourton to this volunteer-operated heritage railway which uses a 14-mile stretch of the former GWR mainline from Birmingham to Cheltenham. A journey on a steam or heritage diesel-pulled train gives you wonderful views of the Malvern Hills and the nearby villages and towns. The cycling route to the steam railway takes you alongside the River Windrush and up the steady Stanway Climb.

Minster Lovell – Said to be the area’s most haunted village, Minster Lovell is best known for the ruined remains of a 15th Century hall, a building owned by generations of the Lovell family. It’s now an ancient monument managed by English Heritage. The village near Whitney is 16 miles from Bourton-on-the-Water.

So, isn’t it time you took your bike to try out Bourton-on-the-Water cycle routes? It’s a must-see part of the UK that many cyclists love!