Bristol, Bath and the Cotswolds — South-West Gravel Gold
Includes an off-grid segment
Navigation instructions may be limited.
19 yd in total
Road Cycling Highlight
Mountain Biking Highlight (Segment)
Bike Touring Highlight
Katherine Moore planned a gravel ride.
April 13, 2020
This triangular route heading east from Bristol is one of my favourite local gravel loops from where I live, and a pretty big day out too. It takes in parts of the Cotswold Way, the stunning bridleways of Castle Combe, and the Fosse Way bridleway descent into the city of Bath. Then there’s an easy finish following the river and the traffic-free Bristol to Bath railway path back to the start. It’s a brilliant route, not to be underestimated!
Expect chalky-white bridleways, wide gravel byways, quiet lanes and pretty towpaths. Spend as much or as little time as you like exploring historic Bath, where you’ll also find many places to enjoy a drink, meal or ice cream!
The route is a loop from Bristol’s central Temple Meads train station, paying a visit to Business As Usual, a cycling themed cafe and bike shop, on the way out of town at the start. This is a great place to meet friends for a coffee and pick up any last minute supplies before you venture into more remote terrain.
After following the smooth and traffic-free Bristol to Bath railway path out of the city, you’ll take back lanes through Pucklechurch (including a steep and rocky warm up climb), then on through Hinton up the alternative Cock Lane climb which is quieter than the main road in the village.
Turn left onto the Cotswold Way further up, riding along the field margin with fantastic views on a clear day as far as the Severn Bridge and Wales beyond. You’ll follow this through a few fields, over the main road and alongside the M4 motorway.
To the north of Nettleton, enjoy the bumpy hedgerow bridleway past the dairy farm, which after a few gates opens up into a central path up through a large arable field. Skirt the next few field edges before returning to the lanes, then onto Summer Lane gravel Byway.
The real highlight of the route comes next as you pass the Castle Combe race course, well known for the mid-week crits, and take the bridleway through Hammerdown Wood. Expect chalky hillside trails, impressive valleys, secluded and vibrant with wildlife.
The following leg takes you onto the Fosse Way Roman road, admittedly quite a busy road at times but with good visibility, and corking views to the Wessex Downs on your left. Peel off to the right when you reach Bannerdown, taking the Fosse Way bridleway descent that can be pretty technical down to Batheaston.
Cross the river to the gravel trail that’ll lead you to the canal, and ride into the centre of Bath along the towpath, taking care for other people as it can get pretty busy along here.
From Bath, you follow the Bristol to Bath railway path all the way back into Bitton, before peeling off to ride up Willsbridge Hill. Here you make your way to Hanham Lock, taking the gravel trail alongside the River Avon past Hanham Woods all the way back into town toward the railway station.
April 14, 2020
Did this route yesterday - absolutely fantastic, especially the sections through Castle Combe. Many thanks for planning!
3 days ago
Glad you loved it Ben, Castle Combe is one of my favourite local places to ride!