Bristol, England is known not only as a thriving city but for the beautiful countryside, ancient roads and old villages surrounding it. That’s why the Bristol area is a popular destination for cyclists, as with a number of gorgeous bike paths to cycle or walk, and some of the prettiest scenery in England, many cyclists dream of the time when they can get back out there. With various Bristol area bike paths to choose from, start off with these three – the most popular and, some would say, the best in the area.
The Bristol and Bath Railway Path – Just about the best place to start leisure cycling around the Bristol area is by beginning on The Bristol and Bath Railway Path. Beginning in Bristol (or in Bath, depending on which end you start from), the bike path runs on a 13 mile off-road trail, wending through historic areas of Bristol, through Easton where the Industrial Revolution is said to have started, on to Staple Hill, through a country park and on into Bath.
On your way, don’t miss the tile work by Sebastian Boyesen, a public art work commissioned by South Gloucestershire Arts Council, The Warmley Giant, Kingswood Museum and the Avon Valley County Park with its wildlife and kiddies’ boat rides.
You’ll also find numerous areas along the bike path where you can stop for a drink or a snack, or a quick nip into a public toilet.
Read the Bristol and Bath Railway Path’s website for more information about the bike path, or Paul’s Cycle Route, with gorgeous photos the whole way along it.
The River Avon Trail – This 23-mile trail is used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders and starts at Pulteney Bridge in Bath, continuing to Pill in North Somerset. You can access the River Avon Trail from the Bristol and Bath Railway Path in Saltford and cycle on it all the way to Pill, a distance of around 15 miles.
On the River Avon Trail, you’ll cycle along the beautiful River Avon, once the area’s main thoroughfare, past the Industrial Museum (which is well worth stopping off to see) and through the historic village of Pill, home of ancient pottery works.
In some places, due to soil erosion, you will have to get off your bike and push as you don’t want to end up going off the edge of the river bank. Just use those times to contemplate the beauty of the area and take a breath before hopping back on your bike and off again.
There’s lots of information about the River Avon Trail on their website, as well as an excellent online guidebook of the trail and its history in PDF form.
The Cotswold WayNational Trail – One of the most popular walking paths and bike trails in the United Kingdom, The Cotswold Way goes through some of England’s most beautiful countryside. The entire trail runs 101 miles through what’s called the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Almost 20% of the trail (around 20 miles of it) can be used by cyclists.
The Transport Trail – If you’re interested in England’s transportation past, you’ll love The Transport Trail. It’s a 20-mile ride on stunning country lanes and passes through areas that were important to the UK’s railway, road and river thoroughfares. The Transport Trail begins in the town of Chipping Sodbury. You can order a free map from an organization called Life Cycle UK, that will guide you through the entire 20 miles, showing you interesting stop off points.
Also, if you like mountain biking trails, good news out of Bristol is that two new mountain bike trails are being designed in the Bristol area by a city resident who was behind the planning of the Olympic courses for Beijing. These will be in Ashton Court and Leigh Woods, and are slated for completion in July, 2011 (see link to article about them below).
Bristol and Bath Railway Path
Paul’s Cycle Route
River Avon Trail
The Transport Trail (free map)
Bristol Named England’s First Cycling City – BBC
New Mountain Bike Trails in Bristol – This is Bristol