Best cycling routes in the Cotswolds
Cotswolds holidays were made for countryside adventures and cream teas in honey-hued villages, and there is no better way to see the region than by bike. Cycling is a great way to feel your way around a new place and it’s good for you too, with countless studies showing that it cannot only boost your cardiovascular health but also strengthen your immune system and make for a better night’s sleep.
Covering an area of around 800 square miles, all of it designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds has a cycling route for all abilities and ages. From the steady to the strenuous, these are some of the best cycle routes to incorporate into your holiday.
With so many Cotswolds cycling routes on your doorstep bike rental from Lower Mill Estate offers a great way to get out and see more. You can book your bike hire and set out on a mini adventure right from your front door.
The family-friendly one
The Lower Mill Estate is home to miles of unspoiled nature reserves created with the sole purpose of reconnecting families with nature. The team at Lower Mill has conveniently marked several cycling trails around the Estate, offering the best chance to take it all in and even spot some of the resident wildlife such as the Eurasian beaver. The Yellow Trail, the longest route, stretches 5 kilometers and encompasses all four corners of the Estate. Along the route, you will find lots of interesting things to keep the kids engaged, such as the pond-dipping area where you can fish for mini beasts or the Miss Mouse Bike Trail, where children can take their first steps into off-road cycling.
The casual one
Life in the Cotswolds is relaxed, and you’ll have plenty of time to take it all in on one of its more casual cycle routes. Without a doubt, the prettiest is the ride through the quintessentially English village of Bourton-on-the-Water, through The Slaughters and beyond, there are a few route options that cover these.
The twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter are beautiful and experiencing them by bike is something special. If you can, make time to incorporate a visit to Daylesford Organic Farm into your bicycle adventures here - the farm shop is one of the best in the UK and its restaurant was awarded a Michelin Green star in recognition of its sustainability practices.
For those looking to start nearer the Estate and experience everything that the Cotswold Water Park has to offer, the Lake Tour Loop is a great option. This 17-mile route provides numerous coffee stops and stunning views around the water park. Although the ride includes sections of B-roads, there are plenty of byways and country lanes to explore. It is recommended to attempt this ride on a gravel or road bike due to the unpredictable nature of some of the byways. The hire bikes from the Activity Hub are more than capable of taking on this challenge.
The challenging ones
For those already familiar with the joys of road cycling, the Lower Mill Estate has much to offer. Set in the Cotswold AONB, you can plan rides that extend into the rolling hills of Bath and beyond. The water park itself is an excellent starting point, with its incredibly flat terrain allowing you to push your average speed to the next level. The quiet country lanes are more likely to be inhabited by cows than traffic jams!
If you're up for a great time trial route, why not try this 10-mile sprint that forms a figure of 8 around our local Cotswold villages?
Alternatively, you could start at the Roman market town of Cirencester which is just a few miles away from the Lower Mill Estate, known as the capital of the Cotswolds. The Cirencester to Stroud route covers 31-miles and takes in many of the region’s attraction highlights on your way through, including Westonbirt Arboretum and Chavenage House. Cirencester itself deserves to be explored before you set off and if you time your ride for a Saturday, you can round it off with lunch at Stroud Farmer’s Market at the other end.
The expert ones
Finally, if you're looking to push your limits and explore as much of the area as possible, why not attempt our 74-mile route? This one is not for the faint-hearted and should only be undertaken with a quality road bike and a matching fitness level. This ride will take you north through the heart of the Cotswolds, passing through charming towns and villages with plenty of refreshment stops along the way. Around the halfway mark, you will reach Down Ampney, a quintessential Cotswold village that feels as if time has stood still, transporting you back to a time before modern life and the busy roads that come with it.
For a true test of endurance, the Kemble Round is a self-guided gravel cycling route. Sitting at a challenging 100-mile distance, the route is intended to be completed in a single day. The route crisscrosses the Cotswolds countryside to make for some scenic views - but be warned that whilst it may be pretty, it is tough, incorporating upwards of 10,000ft of hill climbs. Once you have soaked up the rousing sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing such a tough route, your luxury accommodation and spa awaits!