Cycling in the Cotswolds this summer? It’s time to plan your trip…
If you’ll be spending part of your summer cycling in the Cotswolds, now’s the time to map out the routes you’re planning to take.
Will you be cycling with small children? Do you want to push yourself with some challenging routes? The Cotswolds has it all – along with visitor attractions to please the entire family.
So, here are our suggestions for routes in and around the Cotswolds to suit every type of cyclist…
Traffic free cycling in the Cotswolds
The Collier’s Way – This 18.5-mile route runs from stunning Dundas Aqueduct just outside Bath across the south of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to Radstock and Frome. This route is either traffic free on disused railway lines or on quiet lanes. Perfect for novice cyclists and families, giving you an insight into north Somerset’s coal mining past as you ride.
The Stroud Valley Trail – Wend your way beside the water on a five-mile route from Stonehouse and along the Stroud Valley close to the River Frome, Nailsworth Stream, and Stroudwater canal. Look out for picturesque old water mills, an orchard to ride through, and beautiful views of the Cotswolds to the east. This family-friendly short ride follows the route of the old Midland Railway.
The Stratford Greenway – The birthplace of the Bard, William Shakespeare, is on the edge of the Cotswolds and the historic market town has so much to offer – including a green and pleasant cycle route that’s perfect for anyone wanting to get away from traffic. The five-mile Greenway links Stratford with Long Marston, following the course of the former Honeybourne Line, a single-track railway closed in 1976. It runs through peaceful countryside, crossing the Rover Stour at Stannals Bridge. Listen out for the song of skylarks.
Cotswolds Water Park – You and your children can feel very safe on a range of trails and routes at this popular park. Most of the trails are flat, so they are perfect for families. There is also an 11-mile circular route around the Cleveland Lakes Nature Reserve which takes between two and three hours to cycle, though the ground can be rough in parts so you must be a competent cyclist. Watch out for beautiful wildlife like yellowhammers and great crested grebes.
Cycling routes on quiet country roads
The Burford Loop – If you’re happiest on quiet country roads and lanes, a 33-mile loop starting at beautiful Burford and visiting Minster Lovell and Charlbury is an excellent option. Start and end your ride in this bustling town with an excellent range of shops, cafés, restaurants, and pubs along the high street lined with historic buildings that sweeps down to the River Windrush. Along the way, stop off for a picnic at the Minster Lovell Hall ruins, where there is also a spot popular for outdoor swimming. You can also visit Ensham Park, Blenheim Palace, North Leigh Roman villa, and Charlbury Museum.
The Kingham to Cotswolds Farm Park Loop – This 26-mile route consists mainly of quiet country roads, taking in the lovely village of Bourton-on-the-Water, the home of rare breed conservation at Cotswold Farm Park which has comprehensive collection of over 50 breeding flocks and herds of British rare breed farm animals, and the Donnington Brewery. There’s definitely something for all the family along this route! There are several places to stop to refuel at cafés, restaurants, and country pubs, and while the roads may be quiet, there are some hills along the way.
Cycling routes taking in lots of attractions
The Winchcombe Loop – Starting and ending in the pretty market town of Winchcombe, this 26-mile ride takes in the impressive, Grade I-listed Sudeley Castle and its 15 acres of gardens, the place where Henry VIII’s last wife Catherine Parr is buried, the 13th Century Hailes Abbey and its museum, Beckford Silk Mill, and the Belas Knap long barrow. Winchcombe is also home to a Folk and Police Museum, looking at the history of the town and the history of the police in Britain. You’ll also visit picturesque villages like Great Washbourne, Kersoe, Aston Somerville, and Didbrook. Cyclists must take good care when crossing the A46 and B4077 on this route.
The Honeybourne to Moreton-in-Marsh Ride – With a total of 11.5 miles to cycle, you’ll pack in several beautiful Cotswold villages on a pleasant ride which is suitable even for inexperienced cyclists. You can also use the train to cut down the length of the route by skipping the cycle back. Starting in lovely Honeybourne, where you can visit the local Honeybourne Pottery or the All Things Wild animal park with its reptiles, lemurs, and meerkats, the ride goes through Chipping Campden, then Broad Campden and Aston Magna, eventually ending back in Moreton-in-Marsh where you’ll find the Cotswold Falconry Centre, historic Sezincote House and garden, and the Wellington Aviation Museum.
Challenging rides for expert cyclists
The Great Cotswolds Bike Ride– This 83-mile circular route is an excellent way to see the gorgeous countryside of the Cotswolds. Starting at Fairford, the route runs through Burford, Chipping Campden, Broadway, Hampnett, North Leach, and Chedworth, including a few hill climbs, and four miles of mainly downhill riding on the way back to Fairford. There are amazing views at Broadway Tower, lots of places to eat and drink at Burford, lovely rolling countryside, and picturesque villages along the way. You must have a good level of fitness for this difficult, all-day ride.
The Witney Loop – This challenging 41-mile ride starts and ends in Witney, passing through Farmington, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Taynton, and scenic Bourton-on-the-Water. Start and end point Witney has been a market town since the Middle Ages, and it is packed with welcoming pubs and restaurants. The surrounding countryside along the undulating route is simply stunning, and Bourton-on-the-Water is a picturesque village with plenty of attractive places to stop and rest.
When you get to the Cotswolds this summer, you’ll find so many cycling routes you could take that the problem will be having the time to pack them all in!