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Not only is the City of Dreaming Spires a phenomenally beautiful place to ride, when you go cycling in Oxford, you’ll soon see it’s set into glorious surroundings too. Both the River Thames and the River Cherwell pass through this world-renowned home of academia, along with the pretty Oxford Canal and myriad streams.
Cycle routes from Oxford lead you out into wonderful countryside where patchwork fields brush up against little woodlands and historic buildings. You’ll find three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) within riding distance of this ancient city and all are places to head if you’re after particularly hilly routes.
Riding through the city is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get to know its history and beauty and you’ll find plenty of cycle paths.
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Cycling in Oxford is extremely popular, so much so that you’ll find free bicycle pumps available to use at several spots around the city. Exploring the city on two wheels is a wonderful activity, whether you’ve lived here for years or are simply passing through on a cycle tour. Everywhere you look, you’ll be rewarded with exquisite buildings from the university colleges to grand bridges and the cathedral.
Cycle routes from Oxford take you to the Cotswolds AONB, on the edge of which you can ride to the exquisite Blenheim Palace and the nearby remains of North Leigh Roman Villa. A gently undulating route, exploring the rural countryside around here by bike is blissful.
Ride south east from Oxford’s cobbled streets and before you know it you’ll be in the Chiltern Hills AONB. In this spectacular landscape you’ll discover plenty of cycleways and family-friendly routes, as well as tougher trails with strenuous hills. The Chilterns are a place of open commons, old woodlands and rolling fields.
Due south of the city, cycle into the North Wessex Downs AONB, passing by the prehistoric Uffington White Horse on the northern boundary. This carved chalk horse is a marvel to behold before pedaling onwards into the stunning, grassy hills of the Downs.
Both the Downs and the Chilterns can be easily reached on day rides but to really explore their forests, hills and valleys, multi-day adventures from Oxford are ideal.
Bike rides in Oxford cannot fail to take you along one of the city’s many watercourses. The River Thames, called the Isis in the Oxford area, meanders around the western edge of the city centre while the River Cherwell winds around the east, meeting and joining the Thames in the south. As a result, you can’t pedal very far in the city without crossing a bridge or two and this is one of the reasons why riding here is so charming.
There are cycle-friendly sections of the Thames and you can follow the Oxford Canal for hours upon hours northwards along its peaceful banks. The river and canal trails have a range of surfaces, frequently unsuitable for road bikes.
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