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Cycle along historic waterways – Severn and Thames Way

Hammerhead27 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Cycle along historic waterways – Severn and Thames Way

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

3-5

days

3-5 h

/ day

167 mi

4,350 ft

4,250 ft

Streams weave through vast reedbeds, canals pass colourful meadows and ancient forests, rivers meander through picture-book villages built from golden stone – cycling the waterways of the Severn and Thames Way is pure bliss.

In this Collection, I guide you along the Severn and Thames Way as it follows canals and rivers 173 miles (279 km) from Gloucester to Reading. I've broken the route down into six gentle stages ranging in length from 15 to 30 miles (25 to 49 km). You can combine them to complete the route in fewer days too.

The Severn and Thames Way follows the majestic River Severn, River Avon and Kennet & Avon Canal before reaching the River Thames in Reading. As such, families and easy-going cyclists will love this route – you only climb 4,921 feet (1,500 m) in total. The route mostly traces towpaths and traffic-free ways, just bear in mind that surfaces can be a bit muddy after rain so make sure your tyres have suitable tread.

Panniers packed and bike ready, all that’s left to do is get pedalling. This Collection takes you through some of the UK’s finest countryside, cities, and sites. You ride through stunning nature reserves, over ornate Victorian bridges, through the golden town of Bradford on Avon, explore hipster graffiti in Bristol, relax in the city of Bath, and much more. From dining in gourmet restaurants to fishing in the river, the Severn and Thames Way offers something for everyone.

Waterways once served as a vital artery of life in the UK. Along the Severn and Thames Way you can learn about their important legacy and influence on the industrial revolution. You find history around every curve of the river: old dockyards, impressive aqueducts once used to transport goods, and former railway stations converted into cafes.

Your adventure begins in Gloucester, a bustling city known for its beautiful cathedral which featured in the Harry Potter movies, and renovated docks. With direct train connections to Birmingham, Nottingham, Cardiff and London, Gloucester is easy to reach from across the UK.

All that's left is to get pedalling – have fun!

On The Map

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Severn and Thames Way

159 mi

4,275 ft

4,200 ft

Last updated: November 30, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Gloucester to Berkeley – Severn and Thames Way

    Intermediate
    02:12
    21.6 mi
    9.8 mph
    325 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your first day of adventure cycling the Severn and Thames Way, you cycle a relaxing 20 miles (33 km) along canals and rivers from Gloucester to Berkeley. Before setting off, it's worth exploring Gloucester’s stunning cathedral and docks with excellent shops and restaurants. The centre has undergone a

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:25
    35.0 mi
    10.3 mph
    750 ft
    775 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Walk the corridors of medieval castles, gaze upon iconic bridges, and enjoy a hearty meal at a country pub – stage 2 is an epic ride to Bristol.

    

    Setting off from Berkeley, you cycle along quiet rural lanes as they wind through green countryside. After 4 miles (7 km), you reach the village of Hill. Don

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:38
    26.2 mi
    10.0 mph
    775 ft
    700 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Quiet canal paths, former railway lines and the spectacular city of Bath – Stage 3 is a gentle ride from Bristol to Bradford on Avon.

    

    Join the Bath to Bristol Railway Path to leave the city. Once an important industrial railway line, today this 15-mile (24 km) off-road cycleway is a popular way to travel

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:08
    29.8 mi
    9.5 mph
    975 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 4 takes you deep into rural Somerset and Wiltshire as you ride 29 miles (48 km) from Bradford on Avon to Avebury, passing many interesting highlights along the way.

    

    In Bradford on Avon, you rejoin the Kennet and Avon Canal as it flows through Trowbridge, a historic town with a rich industrial heritage

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:34
    31.1 mi
    8.7 mph
    1,350 ft
    1,600 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Country lanes rise and fall through rural life, passing regal towns and following gushing rivers: stage 5 is a beautiful journey through rolling countryside.

    

    Today, you ride 29 miles (47 km) from Avebury to Newbury. With 1,246 feet (380 m) in elevation gain, this is one of the hilliest legs of your adventure

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:51
    23.5 mi
    8.2 mph
    175 ft
    275 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Passing through vast nature reserves and along winding waterways, your final day of adventure takes you through stunning landscapes. Today, you continue eastwards, riding a flat 22 miles (35km) from Newbury to Reading.

    

    On the outskirts of Newbury, you pass through the sprawling Thatcham Reedbed Nature

    by Amy

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    167 mi
  • Duration
    17:48 h
  • Elevation
    4,350 ft4,250 ft

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