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Where history comes alive – West Midlands Cycle Route

IceNineJon (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Where history comes alive – West Midlands Cycle Route

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

3-6

days

3-6 h

/ day

197 mi

7,300 ft

7,350 ft

From Victorian streets where the Industrial Revolution boomed to serene cycle paths through luscious nature parks – the West Midlands Cycle Route is full of contrasts. Here, you will discover urban and natural treasures as you ride through history to the present day.

This Collection takes you along the entire route in seven stages. You will ride a total of 195 miles (314 km) from Oxford to Derby through some of the region’s most fascinating history and stunning scenery.

Ranging in length from 17 miles (27 km) to 35 miles (56 km), each stage is suitable for most riders whether amateur or pro. You can easily shorten or combine the stages to suit your particular needs as the area has good train links.

Aside from the Cotswold hills and Oxfordshire countryside, the West Midlands Cycle Route is fairly flat; it includes 7,217 feet (2,220 metres) of elevation gain spread over the seven stages, with a maximum of 2,001 feet (610 meters) of climbing in one day.

In centuries past, the West Midlands skyline smoked as the Industrial Revolution grew in its workshops. Although many of the factories have now closed their doors, history is still alive in the area. Along the route, you will find villages built from the wealth of the wool trade, canal navigations once used to transport goods, and even the Cadbury chocolate factory.

Thanks to its industrial boom, the West Midlands has many exciting cities. You will ride through the UK’s second city of Birmingham, a thriving multicultural hub which is home to the famous 'Balti Triangle' and, visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon.

In between the towns and cities, you will find stretches of tranquil nature such as the rolling Cotswold scenery, botanical gardens and peaceful lakes. You can enjoy the nature far away from busy roads as over a third of the route follows along traffic-free towpaths, bridleways and greenways. This does mean, however, that a sturdy bike with a decent tread is required to fully enjoy your adventure; a touring bike with 34mm tyres would be perfect.

The West Midlands Cycle Route can be ridden in both directions, starting in Oxford or Derby. In this Collection, we set off from Oxford, a gem of a town with a rich academic legacy. Here, you can roam the quiet corridors of historic colleges, forgotten libraries and museums brimming with bizarre archaeological treasures. The city also has lovely restaurants and cafes along its honey-coloured streets.

With direct trains from Bournemouth, London, Manchester, Hereford, Southampton and Newcastle, the start line is very easy to reach. If you decide to travel by train, remember to book a place for your bike. Most trains offer free reservations, but spaces are limited.

For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/stations/oxford
For more information about the West Midlands Cycle Route, visit: sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/west-midlands-cycle-route

On The Map

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West Midlands Cycle Route

178 mi

5,375 ft

5,175 ft

Last updated: December 22, 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: Oxford to Charlbury – West Midlands Cycle Route

    Intermediate
    01:59
    17.0 mi
    8.5 mph
    600 ft
    475 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Golden palaces, college gardens and fascinating museums – welcome to the West Midlands Cycleway. Brimming with history and culture, your adventure starts as it means to go on. Today you will ride 17 miles (27 km) from Oxford to Chalbury.

    

    Known globally for its universities, Oxford is a wonderful city

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:35
    24.8 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,350 ft
    1,400 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage two journeys further into the history and culture of the West Midlands discovering Gothic spires, medieval fortified manor houses and Jacobean halls. Today the ride covers 25 miles (40 km) from Charlbury to Banbury.

    

    You will climb 1,345 feet (410 metres) over the course of stage two, following

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    03:36
    34.1 mi
    9.5 mph
    2,000 ft
    1,825 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Imagine cycling over rolling hills, past golden stone manor houses and farmers' markets, spotting birds of prey as you ride – stage three takes you through the Cotswolds, and it’s wonderful.

    

    Today you will ride 34 miles (55 km) from Banbury to Chipping Campden. With 2,001 feet (610 metres) of elevation

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:10
    32.4 mi
    10.2 mph
    800 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage four takes you from emerald fields to literary treasures as you clock up 32 miles (52 km) from Chipping Campden to Redditch via Stratford-upon-Avon. Today is easier on your muscles with 787 feet (240 metres) of elevation gain.

    

    Your day begins with a downhill stretch leading from Chipping Campden

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:46
    27.2 mi
    9.8 mph
    1,200 ft
    1,175 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From layered hills to chocolate factories, stage five takes you to some of the West Midlands' most iconic sites as you ride 27 miles (44 km) from Redditch to Birmingham.

    

    A cycle path leads to the outskirts of Redditch where you will join country lanes towards Upper Bentley. This section of the route

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:40
    26.7 mi
    10.0 mph
    825 ft
    1,000 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your penultimate day of adventure riding the West Country Cycle Route reveals more of the region’s industrial past as you ride 26 miles (43 km) from Birmingham to Lichfield.

    

    After exploring the more peaceful side of Birmingham at Edgbaston Reservoir and the canal, a cycle path takes you away from the

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:35
    35.0 mi
    9.8 mph
    525 ft
    650 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Your final day of adventure along the West Midlands Cycle Route takes you 35 miles (56 km) from Lichfield to Derby. With only 525 feet (160 meters) of elevation gain, you can enjoy a relaxed final ride.

    

    From Lichfield centre, you will follow a cycle path which takes you to the outskirts of the city and

    by Amy

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    197 mi
  • Duration
    20:22 h
  • Elevation
    7,300 ft7,350 ft

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