Mountain bikers and road cyclists are spoilt for choice in the Cotswolds. There are a range of country lanes, permitted cycleways and bridleways to suit all experience levels, and you can be sure of some incredible views. The Cotswolds were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966. The glorious, honey-coloured towns and villages of the Cotswolds are perfect to explore on two wheels. Covering 800 square miles, the region is home to many world-class cycling routes. Here we outline the very best.
1. The Winchcombe Circular
This picturesque cycling route begins in Winchcombe, an unspoilt Cotswold town which is home to Sudeley Castle. The ride takes you onto Stanway, and continues through a number of villages in the north Cotswolds. It’s a 28 miles (45 kilometer) journey that ends back where you started: wonderful Winchcombe. You can then enjoy a well-deserved slice of cake in one of the town’s quaint tea rooms.
2. Painswick to Winchcombe
For those cyclists looking for a steep climb, the route from Painswick to Winchcombe is worth tackling. Steep from start to finish, this cycle route passes by the Great Witcombe Roman Villa, which is an important English heritage site. The journey continues on towards Winchcombe town, passing near Chedworth Roman Villa and Belas Knap. This 38-mile (48-kilometer) route is moderately strenuous and suits relatively experienced cyclists. The route follows mainly quiet lanes but you’ll experience strenuous climbs and steep descents.
3. The Infant Thames Cycling Route
The Infant Thames cycling route begins at Kemble Station. From here it’s a leisurely ride through the Cotswold villages of Ewen, Keynes, and Shorncote. The latter is often deemed the smallest village in Gloucestershire. The bike route then takes you to Cotswold Water Park, which makes the perfect lunch spot and is home to 140 lakes covering 40 square miles. Finally, you end up back where you started – Kemble Station.
4. The Nailsworth Circular
The Gloucestershire town of Nailsworth is a wonderful place to explore on two wheels. The route has two brief moments on A and B roads, but after that, it’s smooth sailing down quiet and unclassified Cotswold lanes. This 30-mile (48-kilometre) route takes cyclists past Mantara Garden, Chavenage House, Tetbury Police Bygones Museum, Highgrove Gardens, Westonbirt Arboretum, Rodmarton Manor, and Dunkirk Mill. Nailsworth is renowned for its selection of award-winning restaurants and pubs, so when you’re cycling you know a culinary feast certainly awaits you at the end of your journey.
5. Cirencester to Stroud
Cirencester is known as the ‘capital of the Cotswolds’ and was one of the largest towns in Roman Britain. The Cirencester to Stroud cycle route is a moderately challenging ride that covers a distance of 31 miles (50 kilometers). Cyclists will experience fairytale views of the rolling Cotswold countryside and pass by numerous attractions on the way, including Cotswold Water Park & Beach, Police Bygones Museum Tetbury, Highgrove Gardens, Westonbirt Arboretum and Chavenage House. If you tackle this route on a Saturday, Stroud Farmer’s Market will be open from 9 a.m.-2pm. Here you can buy lunch from one of the 90 different producers selling local Cotswold produce.