One of the best-kept secrets of the Cotswolds is just how good it is for cycling. From mountain bikers to road cyclers, from beginners to pros, there’s something for everyone.
This Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty spanning 800 square miles boasts a rich network of country lanes, bridleways and permitted cycleways for cyclists to enjoy the area’s spectacular views.
So here it is: our list of 8 of the best cycling routes in the Cotswolds.
1. Tetbury to Bath
- Length: 27 miles
- Required climb: 1000 feet
This cycling route takes you from the picturesque town of Tetbury through Chavenage – notable as the filming location of Poldark – around the back of Prince Charles’ Highgrove Estate.
From there you ride past Westonbirt and its famous arboretum – well worth a stop for a quiet meander around the trees and flora.
Next, take the Fosse Way – a 2,000 year Roman Road – and along the Kennet and Avon Canal where you’ll finally reach the historic city of Bath.
2. Burford to Tetbury
- Length: 37 miles
- Required climb: 1950 feet
Starting in the historic town of Burford, this route takes you around the North of Cirencester via the awe-inspiring Chedworth Roman Villa. From here, carry on South-West, via Sapperton (don’t forget to stop for a pint at The Bell!) and towards Tetbury via Cherington and Chavenage House.
3. Oxford to Moreton-in-Marsh
- Length: 32 miles
- Required climb: 1225 feet
From the great cycling city of Oxford, take the route north along the Oxford Canal towards Wolvercote where you can join the A44 to Woodstock. Consider stopping for lunch at The Bear Hotel or, if you have time, take a walk around the glorious Blenheim Palace Gardens.
Beyond Woodstock, you carry along the A44 around the Marlborough estate towards Charlbury and the villages of Chadlington and Churchill where you could stop for lunch at The Chequers (and maybe catch a glimpse of Jeremy Clarkson).
Onwards and you’ll reach Daylesford and its world-famous farm, the playground of the rich and famous – a great place to stop for a wander around the award-winning farm shop or a cup of tea in the cafe. Beyond Daylesford farm is another 7 miles around the perimeter of the North Cotswolds towards Morton-in-Marsh, your final destination.
4. Moreton-in-Marsh Circular
- Length: 35 miles
- Required climb: 1775 feet
Moreton-in-Marsh is a great place to base yourself during your Cotswolds stay, and if so, there’s a lovely circular bike ride taking you around some of the area’s best landmarks.
Starting in Moreton-in-Marsh, head North-West towards the 14th Century market town of Chipping Campden, one of the most beautiful towns in the area. The cycle route then takes you towards Broadway and its famous tower, from which you’ll get some of the best views of the Cotswolds.
Beyond Broadway, you come to Snowshill and its stunning lavender fields (in bloom during late Spring and Summer), and towards Kineton where you can stop for one of the best burgers in the Cotswolds at The Halfway House. From Kineton, head on towards Lower and Upper Slaughter via The Old Post Office at Guiting Power where you’ll find the best victoria sponge in Britain. Past the Slaughters, two of just the most delightful villages in the area, go on towards the historic Stow-on-the-Wold and loop back to Morton-in-Marsh.
5. Bath Circular
- Length: 34 miles
- Required climb: 2075 feet
Bath – one of the most historic and picturesque cities in England – is a great place to begin your bike tour of the Cotswolds.
Starting in Bath, take off along the Kennet and Avon canal, built in the early 1800s for the transport of coal and stone East towards Newbury and London. Onwards to Bradford-on-Avon, a pretty little town, and then to Laycock Abbey – now wholly owned by the National Trust.
From Laycock, head North-West towards Biddeston for lunch at The White Horse, and back down the Roman Road towards Bath.
6. Bampton Circular
- Length: 42 miles
- Required climb: 1550 feet
Bampton, made world-famous for its setting of Downton Abbey, lies in the East of the Cotswolds and is within fairly easy reach of some of the most iconic Cotswold landmarks.
Starting at Bampton, head towards Burford via the Windrush Valley past the Sherborne Estate, one of the sites of the Battle of Britain in 1940. Beyond Burford, you’ll come to Northleach (which has a fantastic local pub in The Wheatsheaf), and then Bibury, known for its nearby Arlington Row, one of the most photographed streets in the UK.
Beyond Bibury is a delightful ride through the Coln Valley through the Hatherop Estate from where you loop back round to Burford and back to Bampton.
7. Cheltenham Circular
- Length: 36.7 miles
- Required climb: 2525 feet
This one is for the fitter and more experienced cyclists; with its big climb up the Cotswolds escarpment, it’s not for the faint-hearted!
Starting at the Regency town of Cheltenham, head North towards the small town of Winchcombe, famous for its historic Sudeley Castle. From Winchcombe, cycle towards Broadway, a nice spot for lunch at the Broadway Deli.
Follow a figure of eight back through Winchcombe and on towards Cheltenham for a well-earned rest.
8. Morton-in-Marsh to Stratford-upon-Avon and back
- Length: 42 miles
- Required climb: 1900 feet
For those looking for a trip out of the Cotswolds into Shakespeare country, this is a fantastic route.
Starting at Morton-in-Marsh, head towards Chipping Campden and onwards towards Stratford-upon-Avon via the Church where Shakespeare himself was laid to rest. There’s no shortage of eateries or watering holes in Stratford; a great place to stop for a rest.
From Stratford, take the route along the dismantled railway line and loop back around towards Ilmington. You’ll then climb a steep hill towards Compton Scorpion, from where you head due South towards Paxford and its lovely pub, The Churchill Arms.
Just a short wobble back towards Moreton-in-Marsh will complete your journey.
These are just 8 of many stunning cycle routes around the Cotswolds. As you can see, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re into viewing the stunning patchwork Cotswolds scenery, checking out historical landmarks like Shakespeare’s stomping ground, or visiting some of the best pubs in England.