Roaming the sprawling Somerset countryside and its hidden historical gems on your bicycle – what could get better than that? This Collection guides you through diverse scenery around the city of Bristol; from unique Victorian piers jutting into the River Severn to Iron Age hill forts and Aerospace museums. This fun and easy ride offers something for everyone.
Although the original Avon Cycleway runs 85.5 miles (137 km), our Collection guides you 141.6 miles (228 km) to include a few detours to the best sites along the way.
You can start and finish your adventure at any point along the Avon Cycleway as it forms a loop around Bristol. We’ve started this Collection from Temple Meads train station in Bristol to make it easier to reach the official route.
Each of the seven stages in this Collection can be shortened or combined to match your fitness level and time frame. They work well together as an epic adventure or individually as city escapes, especially if you live in or around Bristol.
Following quiet country lanes and traffic-free cycle paths, the Avon Cycleway is suitable for all levels of riders. With no challenging climbs, it is a perfect first adventure for the whole family as you will climb a total of 6496 feet (1980 meters) over the seven stages.
Whether you prefer your roadie or sturdy touring bike, any set of two wheels is suitable for the Avon Cycleway. The route follows excellent surfaces, with only a few bridleways that can become muddy after rain.
To ensure your adventure is both fun and comfortable, each stage ends in a town or village with accommodation, as well as restaurants or cafes to please your stomach. Food lovers (i.e. everyone) can tuck into a cream tea at a former railway waiting room or try Wickwar’s famous cask ale en route.
The Avon Cycleway is a varied adventure: birdwatching in ancient forests, indulging in cake stops at vintage tea rooms, exploring magnificent country estates, wandering the graffiti-covered Bristol streets, and much much more.
You can easily reach the start line of this Collection in the vibrant city of Bristol by train. The city enjoys direct rail connections to London, Cardiff, Plymouth and Birmingham. You will also find a huge range of accommodation in the city.
For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/stations/bristol-temple-meads
For more information about the Avon Cycleway, visit: sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/avon-cycleway
From the thriving city of Bristol to the banks of the River Severn, stage one of your adventure cycling the Avon Cycleway takes you 25 miles (41 km) through the Somerset countryside, passing many interesting sites along the way.
Although the Avon Cycleway technically follows a loop around Bristol, we have started this Collection from Temple Meads train station, a convenient place to begin your adventure. After exploring iconic Bristolian landmarks like the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Floating Harbour, you will leave the city via cycle paths and join the official Avon Cycleway route close to Easter Compton.
After 18 miles (29 km), you will ride across the impressive Avon Bridge over the River Avon before passing through Easton in Gordano, a commuter village on the edge of the Gordano Valley. A designated National Nature Reserve, the Gordano Valley is a beautiful area of Somerset with unique nature. You can enjoy its tranquil landscapes as you ride towards Portishead, the final stop for stage one.
A coastal town on the banks of the Severn Estuary, Portishead has been a prominent fishing town for centuries. From Norman Conquest to modern-day bands, Portishead has plenty to discover beneath the surface. You will find plenty of accommodation in the town, as well as shops, restaurants, and a train station.
Stage two of the Avon Cycleway is a gentle 11 mile (17.5 km) ride along the Severn Estuary from Portishead to Clevedon. Riding along luscious valleys that merge into industrial cities, today is full of contrasts.
After exploring Portishead’s picturesque marina and battery point, you will follow winding country lanes through the Gordano Valley. This flat section of the route is a delight to cycle – its tranquillity is worlds apart from the busy M5 flyover closeby. The Black Horse pub in Clapton in Gordano is a lovely place to stop for lunch.
You follow the valley for 4 miles (7 km) reaching Cadbury Camp at its end. Combining ancient history with panoramic views, Cadbury Camp is a beautiful spot nestled amongst the hills.
Between the hills and the Severn estuary, you will find Clevedon the final destination of stage two. A popular seaside resort in Victorian times, Clevedon has a spectacular pier that is one of the oldest in the UK. You will find a range of accommodation, as well as great restaurants serving everything from pub food to Italian classics.
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Historic villages, impressive viaducts, and vast reservoirs – stage three is a varied 25 mile (41 km) ride through history and nature. With 1410 feet (430 meters) of climbing, stage three is the hilliest section of the Avon Cycleway.
From Clevedon, you can enjoy a flat stretch through the countryside before climbing into the emerald hills. Look out for planes flying overhead as you ride by Bristol Airport towards the glistening Barrow Gurney Reservoir.
After 13 miles (21 km), you will arrive in Winford, a small village with a friendly pub and shop. The village gets its name from the Old English word ‘woenfaru’ which means journey or route, fitting since the village lies on the Monarch’s Way long-distance footpath.
From here, you will descend towards Chew Stoke and take a small detour to visit the Chew Valley Lake. The fifth-largest artificial lake in the UK, Chew Valley Lake is brimming with wildlife; take a break from pedalling to look out for over 260 species of birds that live around the water.
Your next spot is the charming Chew Magna village, a highlight of the Chew Valley. With many medieval houses and ancient churches, the village wears its history on its sleeve.
Heading back into the luscious Chew Valley, you will follow country lanes as they gently rise and fall through the landscape. Your final destination is Pensford, a pretty village with a magnificent viaduct and three pubs. Although accommodation in Pensford is limited, you will find a wide range of B&Bs, self-catering rentals and inns in the area.
Stage four takes you 13 miles (21 km) from Pensford to Staple Hill. Today, you will learn more about the region’s industrial past and railway heritage as you visit former waiting rooms and disused railway lines.
Following the River Chew as it meanders through rural Somerset, you will visit Woodard and Compton Dando villages. Here, you can take a dip in the river’s cool waters as the area is a popular spot for wild swimming.
From Compton Dando, a gradual climb will take you to the historic village of Saltford. Built in 1160, Saltford Manor House even claims to be the oldest constantly lived-in building in England. Saltford has a good selection of pubs, cafes, and shops to grab some lunch. The village also has a train station.
On the outskirts of Saltford, you will join the Bristol and Bath Railway Path as it leads through the countryside and crosses the River Avon. This popular traffic-free cycleway will take you around Bristol’s outskirts, passing the Warmley Waiting Room cafe and abandoned Mangotsfield Railway Station.
Stage four ends in Staple Hill, a suburb of Bristol. Thanks to its proximity to Bristol, you will find a wide range of accommodation ranging from budget hotels to Airbnbs.
From 19th-century collieries to regal 17th-century estates, stage five reveals over five centuries of fascinating history nestled amongst the peaceful countryside. Today, you will ride 21 miles (33 km) from Staple Hill to Yate, climbing 885 feet (270 meters) in total.
Continuing along the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, you will visit the Brandy Bottom Colliery before taking a detour to Dyrham Park. Set amongst parkland and rolling hills, Dyrham Park is one of the most beautiful estates in the UK and well worth pedalling the extra miles.
Rejoining the Avon Cycleway, you will continue to cycle through quiet rural life, visiting Bitterwell Lake along the way. This area was once an epicenter for the Industrial Revolution. Indeed, Coalpit Heath was founded as a coal mining settlement in the 20th century. Today, you will find a thriving town with a wide range of cafes; from vintage tearooms to greasy spoons.
The final stretch of stage five follows along the River Frome as it flows into Yate. Yate has a diverse history; from hosting American troops during World War II to being the birthplace of J.K. Rowling. A popular commuter town, Yate has excellent amenities and a wide range of accommodation from luxury hotels to cosy B&Bs.
Sheep graze in open farmland, birds navigate the treetops of ancient forests, and monuments watch over green countryside – stage six guides you through wonderful nature spots. The route leads 23 miles (37 km) from Yate to Thornbury gaining 1246 feet (380 meters) in elevation over the day.
Firstly, you will follow a cycle path to leave Yate city center. With the hustle and bustle of town life behind you, you will enjoy quiet rural scenes for the rest of the day. After passing the Chase Airstrip, your first stop is Horton Camp, an Iron Age hill fort just outside Horton village.
From here, you will descend towards Hawkesbury before climbing up to the Somerset Monument. At the top, you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views over the surrounding farmland and hills.
Next stop is a visit to the Lower Woods Nature Reserve. With a network of trails running through its ancient trees, it is worth spending a few hours exploring this enchanting forest. After 15 miles (25 km), you will arrive in Wickwar a thriving village known for its brewery and popular cask ale. Here, you will find shops and cafes to stop for a bit to eat or a pint.
The final 6 miles (10 km) of stage six take you further into the countryside, following quiet rural lanes. You will pass through Cromhall village and Milbury Heath before arriving in Thornbury, your final destination.
With an ancient castle and colourful parks, Thornbury is a delightful historic town. Here, you will find everything you need for a comfortable rest: from Indian takeaways to delicious pastries.
From Medieval Castles to palaces built for ducks – stage seven takes you to all the weird and wonderful places from Thornbury to Patchway. The final stage of the Avon Cycleway, stage seven takes you 23 miles (37 km) passing many interesting places along the way.
After visiting Thornbury Castle, you will cycle into the surrounding countryside, passing countless fields of grazing sheep and hedge-lined fields. You will ride through Littleton Upon Severn and Elberton before arriving in Olveston, a sleepy village with a pub and a curious regal house for its ducks – Duckingham Palace.
Next, you will take a small detour to visit the River Severn estuary at Severn Beach before continuing to Easter Compton a small village with a post office shop and bowling alley. Easter Compton is the official end of the Avon Cycleway, however we have included directions to the closest train station to make it easier for you to return home from your adventure.
From Easter Compton, you will cross over the motorway and pass Cribbs Causeway shopping complex. Although this section has a lot of traffic, regular cycle paths ensure your ride is stress-free.
At Charlton Hayes, you can visit the fascinating Aerospace Museum and the site of the first Concorde flight before heading to Patchway train station. With direct train services to Cardiff and Exeter, you can easily return home from here.
For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/stations/patchway