Cycling the Heart of England

This was a trip I took in July, 2003, starting in central London, following the Thames Valley cycle path to Oxford, the West Midlands cycle path to Stratford-upon-Avon, and then circling southwest through the Cotswolds.

General Advice

What I would tell someone planning a do-it-yourself bike trip in England, based on the things that surprised me on two cycle trips I took there. This is a short list of items of advice.

Planning the Trip

This is a discussion of the choices we made in planning the bike trip in England -- the choice of route, the logistics of bicycle rental and accommodation, and packing for the trip.

Day One -- London to Staines

We rent the bicycles in London, take the train to Putney, and have bike problems before we start. We race against the oncoming darkness through Richmond Park and delightful paths along the river Thames.

Day Two -- Staines to Reading

Pretty scenes along the Thames, getting lost in Windsor Great Park, having more bike problems, getting a flat on a dark hill in a forest, and limping into Reading as night is falling.

Day Three -- Reading to Oxford

It rains almost all day as we cycle through wet forests and empty panoramic wheat fields. We pass underneath a nuclear power plant, and the sun comes out as we miss a turn and hack our way through underbrush into Oxford.

Day Four -- Oxford to Banbury

We cycle along the canal and help a narrow boat through a lock, stop at Woodstock for lunch, and climb a tiring hill before reaching Banbury.

Day Five -- Banbury to Stratford-upon-Avon

We push our bikes through a farm, where we're not sure we're supposed to be. We arrive at touristy Stratford on a pleasant cycle path and join the throngs in the land of Shakespeare.

Day Six -- Stratford to Tewksbury

For the first time on this trip we leave the national cycle paths and set out on a busy road. We visit the heart of the Cotswolds in the town of Broadway, and arrive in Tewksbury as it starts to rain. We hear incredible music in Tewksbury Abbey.

Day Seven -- Tewksbury to Cirencester

We have to climb the crest of hills that runs through the Cotswolds. Finally we coast down to Cirencester and reach the end of our trip. The next day we get a cab to take us a long way to a train station to return the bikes.


Up to Bob Lucky's Biking Page for other trips