Cycling isn’t just about riding a bike. It’s about all you experience en route: ancient lanes edged with wild flowers, historic villages, enchanting views, chance encounters, birdsong. On our delightful routes you’ll get to know this beautiful area mostly using quiet roads, with some traffic-free routes alongside canals and old railway tracks.
You may notice the routes are not entirely all downhill, though lord knows we tried. You’ll find climbs, exhilarating descents - and even the odd flat bit may have crept in here and there.
There’s no danger of going hungry. We’ve pointed you to cafés, pubs and teashops en route: all, in a spirit of thorough and selfless research, tried and tested by John.
Just a word about using the notes. You’ll sometimes pass minor roads not mentioned in the text. Just stay on the road you are on until instructed to turn. Occasionally this will mean following your road round to the left or right where the road markings show that the road straight ahead is a minor one. Keep an eye on the mileages to judge when you’ll need to follow the next instruction.
Set off along the Kennet and Avon canal, past a fine village church with stained glass kangaroos, and cross the river and railway line by the grand aqueduct at Dundas. In Freshford , call in for a coffee at the busy community shop, before a steep descent through Sharpstone into the Frome valley, and on to Iford. Here you can visit the famous Italianate gardens at the manor, where there is also a teashop. Marvel at Britannia guarding the bridge over the Frome before the climb followed by an impossibly steep descent to the canal at Avoncliff and then an easy ride along the canal back to Bath.
There are pubs at Limpley Stoke and Westwood.
Cycle through Bath and along the first section of the National Cycle Network: the Bristol-Bath Railway Path, then into Compton Dando in the Chew Valley.
Stop for coffee in the library at Hunstrete House (very grand).
You can visit the old water mill at Priston, before cycling along a tiny lane back to Bath for an amazing descent with wonderful views of the city.
This route takes in the Kennet and Avon canal, a fine village church with stained glass kangaroos, a toll bridge (free to bikes), then up past a vineyard and along the valley side on tiny lanes. Climb to Kingsdown, with views to the Marlborough Downs. Down into pretty South Wraxall, and into the jewel of Wiltshire, the ancient wool town of Bradford on Avon, with its Saxon church, magnificent tithe barn, packhorse bridge and mediaeval Town Bridge complete with lockup. On the way back to Bath along the canal you go through tiny, picture-perfect Avoncliff. There are pubs and cafés in Bradford on Avon.
An easy start along the Bath-Bristol railway path to Bitton Station where you can drink your freshly-made coffee in a railway carriage. From Golden Valley you reach the isolated village of Doynton, where the village pub is run by a cyclist. Climb through Dyrham and into the Cotswolds. After Marshfield with its Georgian-fronted houses and eighteenth century coaching inn, the land drops away into the exquisite St Catherine’s Valley en route for the canal back into Bath. There are pubs in Doynton and Marshfield.
Cycle along the peaceful Kennet and Avon canal, join the route of the Titfield Thunderbolt, then along the railway path on the route of the old Somerset and Dorset railway to Wellow. In Wellow you go over a ford before following the narrow wooded lane to Norton St Phillip. Here you’ll pass the 14th century half-timbered George Inn, before continuing to Tellisford in the peaceful Frome valley. Pass Farleigh Castle , then climb to the National Trust’s Westwood Manor, before the steep descent to Avoncliff, before an easy ride back into Bath. There are pubs in Monkton Combe, Wellow, Norton St Phillip and Westwood.
Cycle through Bath and along the first section of the National Cycle Network: the Bristol-Bath Railway Path, then into Compton Dando in the Chew Valley. You can visit the old water mill at Priston, then through charming Combe Hay where you’ll pass the well-known Wheatsheaf Inn, and on through Midford and Monkton Combe to join the Kennet and Avon Canal at the magnificent Dundas viaduct for an easy ride back into Bath. There are pubs in Compton Dando, Priston, Combe Hay, Midford and Monkton Combe.
Cylcle along the canal and up the Roman Fosse Way. The route goes through picturesque Castle Combe, then Grittleton On the way back you’ll cycle along a section of the Roman Fosse Way and through the ancient coaching village of Marshfield before the beautiful descent into the Avon Valley via St Catherine’s Valley and back to the start along Bath’s grandest street, Great Pulteney Street. On the route there are six pubs, two teashops and a café on a narrowboat.
Cycle through Bath and along the first section of the National Cycle Network: the Bristol-Bath Railway Path, then into Compton Dando in the Chew Valley. Cross the Chew in the quintessentially English hamlet of Publow, then go under a stupendous viaduct at Pensford.
Pensford Viaduct Visit the pretty and bustling village of Chew Magna then continue to Chew Valley Lake with its café and picnic spots. Back to Stanton Drew and retrace the route back to Bath. There are pubs in Compton Dando, Pensford and Chew Magna.
Along the Kennet and Avon canal, via the magnificent aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff, to the Cotswold wool town of Bradford on Avon with its Saxon church, merchants’ houses, tithe barn and packhorse bridge. Past Great Chalfield Manor (National Trust) and on tiny lanes via the unusual chapel at Monks Park – all wood and chapel hat pegs – through the hamlets of Westrop and Notton into the National trust village of Lacock, with its abbey, the Fox Talbot Photographic Museum and the splendid King John’s Hunting Lodge Tea Gardens. Then along quiet lanes to Kingsdown for an exhilarating descent to the Avon Valley at Bathford, before heading back to the canal and into Bath. There are pubs in Bradford, Lacock and Bathford. Look out for the canal boat serving teas at Bathampton.
Not one of the flattest routes but probably the most varied. It takes in the Kennet and Avon canal, a fine village church with stained glass kangaroos, a toll bridge (free to bikes), a half-hidden stone marker at the corner of three counties, the picturesque hamlet of Slaughterford on the By Brook, the perfect Cotswold village of Castle Combe with its pretty cottages reflected in the river.
You stay on the top through Cotswold villages and into Malmesbury on the river Avon. Here you can see the famous abbey with its magnificent Norman doorway. Next door is the Bell, the oldest inn in England. You can also see a huge rose collection at Abbey House garden. On the way back you can go through the lanes to Chippenham railway station (fairly frequent trains to Bath) or cycle via Alderton with its pretty village pond, along a section of the Roman Fosse Way and through the Cotswold village of Marshfield before a beautiful descent into the Avon Valley via St Catherine’s Valley. Return to John’s Bikes along Bath’s grandest street, Great Pulteney Street. On the route there are plenty of pubs, cafés and two teashops.