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The Cotswold Classic

Without a doubt the Cotswolds is one of the most popular tourist destinations in England, and true enough they do flock to the area year round, coach loads of them, from all over the world. But for cyclists, the good news is that they all tend to stick to the same well-trodden tourist trail, which rarely leads them away from the main roads and better-known
towns in the area. This leaves the lanes and bridleways free from traffic and quiet all year round.

Our route is a classic Cotswold back road tour, which takes you into these lanes well away from the tourists and the traffic. The ride is short but tough, with plenty of short sharp climbs, some rough stuff (OK on road tyres), and a whole load of fantastic scenery thrown in to make it even more worthwhile.

If you want to extend the ride then you’ll have no difficulty in coming up with options; there are literally hundreds of miles worth of back roads in the area – you could ride all day without ever being more than an hour from base.

The route stats

• Distance: 34 miles
• Grade: Short but sharp
• Bottom gear: 39×25
• Terrain: Hilly minor roads and gritty farm roads (rough in places)
• Time: 2.5-3.5 hours
• Map: Goldeneye Cotswold Cycling map is ideal for this ride.

The Route – In Detail

  • From the centre of Winchcombe head south out of town on the minor road besides the Old Tea House.
  • Follow this road as it climbs past an old gatehouse, take the first left after this
  • continue up the hill for a while and then turn right again.
  • Once you start to drop down hill bear right on to the farm track.
  • Stay with this track, keeping right at the fork.

  • Turn left, then first right at the next junction and continue to a
    sharp left then right turning.

  • Follow the road until you reach a turning on the left. Turn left here then keep right at the next junction.
  • Turn left at the T-junction and go straight over the next cross roads and then turn right again at the end of the road and descend to Bourton-on-the Water.
  • After checking out the town head out along the main road towards Cheltenham, taking the first fork to the right onto the A436.
  • Bear left at the first turning then follow the signs to Cold Aston, Notgrove and on to Turkdean.

  • As you descend out of Turkdean turn sharp right to double back on yourself. Climb up until you see the main road
    ahead, but turn right onto the minor road just before this and continue to Hazleton.

  • On entering the village
    turn right, then first left, and right again – which takes you around the village.

  • Continue up from here to meet the main road, where it’s right then left. From here this road will take you straight back to

Getting there

The ride starts from the village of Winchcombe, which is about 8 miles to the east of Cheltenham City centre. The village is right on the B4632, which you can join from the north-eastern edge of Cheltenham. The easiest way to get there is to leave the M5 at either junction 10 or 11 and to head for the city centre, from where you pick up the
Prestbury/Winchcombe signs. Cheltenham is also the
nearest rail station.
For details go to www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 08457 484950.

Food and drink

Winchcombe has a whole load of teashops and pubs. They’re all much of a muchnesss – very Cotswoldy and quaint. So if you fancy a cupper in one of them then be sure to clean up a bit first, and try the Old Tea House or the Olde Bakery. There are also loads of pubs, with the Plasterers Arms being pretty good. Out on the ride you’ll pass several pubs and inns, while in Bourton-on-the Water there are loads of teashops and eateries.

Bike Shops

Cheltenham Cycles (01242 255414)
Williams Cycles (01242 512291)
Noah’s Ark (01242 241550)

Cotswold hell

Each April the “Hell of the North Cotswolds” takes place around these trails and roads. The event is a massed start rough stuff randonee style ride, with 2 distances on offer, usually around 50 and 90kms in distance. Anywhere between 500 and 1500 mountain bikers and roadies take part in this classic annual event. This year’s event has sadly already passed by (9th April)
For more details of next years event check out

This is tea room heaven

An English Summer – unbeatable

Short, sharp and tough

Introducing Steve Thomas
Steve is one of the UK’s leading bicycle travel journalists. He has written extensively for Cycling Plus and ProCycling on routes and rides accross the globe. Our hope is to bring you a ride a week, with great pictures, details of how to get there and an on-route direction finder.

We’d also like to hear about your rides too, good pictures and descriptions of your local training and riding routes, so we can share them with RCUK’s readers. So please e-mail us your rides.


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