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
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 full of architectural wonders and museums. It's worth spending some time exploring the city before setting off.
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 quiet lanes that rise and fall through the countryside. Don’t forget to stop off for supplies before leaving Charlbury as you won't find many places en route today.
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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 gain, stage three is the toughest section of the West Country Cycle Route.
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 to Mickleton, a lovely village known for its vegetable growing and market gardening. There are two pubs in the village.
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 is up and down, but there are no big climbs.
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 …
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 into the countryside. Riding along quiet lanes, you will explore the countryside from here, visiting the wonderful Croxall lakes along the way.