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Ancient bridleways of Central England — Icknield Way Trail

Andy Field (Field Office) (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Ancient bridleways of Central England — Icknield Way Trail

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore



6-7 h

/ day

149 mi

6,950 ft

7,275 ft

Part of the larger Greater Ridgeway Trail that links the north coast of Norfolk to the South Coast on the English Channel, the Icknield Way Trail is the cycling-friendly version of the hiker’s Icknield Way Path. It connects Peddars Way in Knettishall, Suffolk, which leads to Hunstanton, to the Ridgeway Trail, from Ivinghoe Beacon to historic Avebury. You can then link with the Wessex Ridgeway to ride all the way down to the Jurassic Coast at Lyme Regis in Dorset.

Passing through six counties of Central and Eastern England; Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, this trail takes in idyllic rural villages, rolling agricultural landscapes and hidden woodlands. Plus there are sandy trails over grassy commons, plantations and heathland, all yielding magnificent views. What this area might lack in mountains it certainly makes up for in charm, and a few steep ascents!

The route is slightly different to the official Icknield Way Path, which is a walking-friendly route for hikers established in 1992. Avoiding footpaths in favour of bridleways and byways so that it can be followed by horse-riders and cyclists alike, the Icknield Way Trail was formed in 2004. Look out for the signs where the official path and trail split.

The Icknield Way Trail is best enjoyed in the drier summer months. In the winter, many of these field and woodland trails become very muddy and slow-going, so you’ll make the best progress when they’ve dried out. You’ll be fine on either a gravel, mountain bike or sturdy tourer, ideally with tyres 40mm wide or more.

Here we’ve proposed the route in three stages, although of course you can choose to split them further or combine as you wish. Being close to many villages and towns in this part of England, you’re never far from places to stay.

Access to either end of the trail is best by train, although you’ll need to add a little ride to your journey to find the nearest stations. Travel to Princes Risborough, a 4.5 mile (7.2 km) ride from the start in Chinnor, on Chiltern Railways for the southern end,, and ride 7 miles (11 km) to Thetford at the other end for the nearest train station to the finish. Do check when you buy your ticket whether you need to reserve a space for your bike too.

Check out the related routes here.
The Peddars Way: komoot.com/collection/900448
The Ridgeway: komoot.com/collection/899679
The Wessex Ridgeway: komoot.com/collection/960938
The Icknield Way Path (walking-friendly): komoot.com/collection/954916

On The Map


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The Icknield Way

148 mi

6,975 ft

7,300 ft

Last updated: November 10, 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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  1. Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Chinnor to Dunstable — Icknield Way Trail

    41.1 mi
    6.8 mph
    3,125 ft
    3,000 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Start your Icknield Way Trail adventure from the village of Chinnor in South Oxfordshire. The train line here is no longer in use by domestic services, but you can get a train to nearby Princes Risborough on the Chiltern Railways main line and pedal down to Chinnor.


    From the village, you’re straight up


  2. 07:21
    54.1 mi
    7.4 mph
    2,025 ft
    2,450 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The second stage of the Icknield way from Dunstable to Great Chesterford is bridleways galore. Sandy ones, rocky ones, woodlands, field margins and mud; this is a big day in the saddle with some of central England’s finest traffic-free trails.


    Start the stage by leaving Dunstable and crossing both the


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  4. 06:57
    53.5 mi
    7.7 mph
    1,800 ft
    1,825 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The third and final stage of the Icknield Way Trail delivers you to the junction with the Peddars Way from your start point of Great Chesterford. Most of the climbing is in the first half of the stage, although it is a very moderate amount, and the latter half will be a relief for your weary legs!





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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    149 mi
  • Duration
    20:23 h
  • Elevation
    6,950 ft7,275 ft

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