cycling the English Countryside

Great West Way & Cotswolds Ride

6 days
from
£1,349 £1,249
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Cycling
Activity level:
Moderate
Activity Rating - Moderate
Trip code: 
MGC
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
New Cycling Holidays
Group size:
6–16
Ages:
16+

Cycle along the Kennet and Avon Canal, Bath, the Great West Way®  and the South Cotswolds

The River Avon, Bath, and the Cotswolds. Three beacons of quintessential Englishness. The Avon River has been at the heart of English life in the south for centuries, leading to the establishment of great cities such as Bristol, and of course, Bath, whose very name indicates its long and rich history.

On this trip we cycle along the Kennet and Avon Canal, built over 200 years ago to provide safe and efficient travel between London and Bath.

We also cycle along part of the Great West Way®, a tourism route that joins up many of England’s iconic destinations and attractions along a corridor west of London through to Bristol, based on one of the first Great Roads commissioned by the Kings of England. 

Though far from flat, the Cotswolds offer a wonderful mix of beautiful villages, little changed for years, verdant countryside and of course some fantastic authentic pubs.

The breadth of history, landscapes and cultures packed into this week shows just how much you can see when you know where you are going, or in this case, are with someone who does!

Highlights

  • Beautiful canal rides
  • Discover the Cotswolds villages and scenery.
  • Explore Bath

Key information

  • 5 days cycling
  • 80% tarmac roads, 20% gravel or tracks
  • Group normally 6 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs.
  • 5 nights hotels, inns and guesthouses
  • Countries visited: United Kingdom

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation
  • Luggage transfers throughout week

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa and vaccinations
  • Single supplement (available on request and subject to availability)
  • Bike hire (optional extra if you do not wish to bring your own)
Call for general departures:
052-4811569
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

5

Days of Cycling
Pace:

Moderate: 13-16km/8-10miles an hour

Terrain:

Low altitude; 80% tarmac and 20% gravel/unpaved

Day by day breakdown
Day 152.9km/32.9miles
Day 243.1km/26.8miles
Day 372.4km/45.0miles
Day 453.0km/32.9miles
Day 575.2km/46.7miles

Itinerary

Newbury
to
Newbury
  • Day 1

    The Kennet and Avon Canal

    Starting from Newbury railway station, we get on our bikes and head out into the countryside. Before long we join the path along the Kennet and Avon canal, for so long a vital artery for trade.

    After a tranquil stretch by the water, we take the beautifully named Honey street and join the quiet roads in the surrounding areas. Lunch is taken by the canal in an old pub at Crofton before finishing the ride and heading to our hotel for the night via Avebury and its huge stone circle, where unlike Stonehenge you can get up close and personal with the 40-tonne monoliths!

    Accommodation: Hotel

  • Day 2

    Kennet and Avon Canal and Bath

    Of the many characteristic features of the UK canal system, locks are perhaps the most ingenious. Today we make our way back to the canal l for a wonderful ride, starting down the Caen flight. The name given to 22 consecutive locks over a one-mile stretch, a real feat of engineering. We bike alongside the boats, stopping at the pubs and soaking up the atmosphere as the landscape slowly passes by. 

    Keeping with the theme of impressively engineered constructions, we pass over the majestic Dundas and Avoncliff aqueducts before finishing the ride for the day in Bath. Though we stay a little outside the city, we should have time to explore. Among the many highlights are the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent and Jane Austen’s house.  

    Overall, the going is flat, despite all the locks, though there is one climb at the end of the day worth noting, just over 1km at an average of 6%, perfectly manageable when taken at a modest pace.

    Accommodation: Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Bath into Bristol

    We ride all the way into Bristol via a disused railway line. Rest assured the line has been well adapted for cyclists, so leaves on the line will not be an issue. After a short sharp climb early on we will set our sights on Bristol, which as anyone who has visited will know is not flat. Much of the day will be relatively gentle with one short last blast up as we approach the city itself. Once there we can visit some of the historical sites, maybe a craft brewery or go on the Banksy trail. There is also the option to extend the ride through newly renovated railway tunnels and a loop back via the Kennet and Avon Canal.

    Accommodation: Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    The Cotswolds

    Heading up the hill from Bath we depart the Great West Way®  and head to the Cotswolds. The ride is shorter than the previous day, and lunch will be taken in Tetbury, near Prince Charles’ house and gardens at Highgrove. There is also the option to visit the national arboretum at Westonbirt before arriving at our hotel for the night on the side of the beautiful Minchinhampton Common.

    Accommodation: Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    The Cotswolds

    We head into the Cotswolds on our longest ride of the week for a delightful jaunt through countryside worthy of any postcard.  On our route we discover gorgeously traditional villages, including the world-famous Bibury, one of the many local villages to be mentioned in the Doomsday Book. We stop for lunch and a drink in the wonderful Bell at Sapperton, known for its fantastic food and drink selection. We return to the hotel for the night our final meal together in the hotel, the Bear of Rodborough.  

    Accommodation: Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Farewells

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

United Kingdom

No vaccinations are obligatory.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts are included.

Lunches can be purchased from local bakeries, cafes, and supermarkets, which will offer you the opportunity to sample local specialities. We might also stop in pubs or cafes along the way.

Dinners will be taken at accommodations we stay at or traditional local pubs along the way.

Weather

As with the rest of England, the weather in the West Country and the Cotswolds is hard to predict. Generally mild, the warmest months to visit are from June through to August, although temperatures start to warm up around April and remain pleasant until October time. We advise you take waterproofs as rain / showers can occur at any time of year.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is rated moderate, level 3.

Cycling is on country roads and cycle paths. Occasionally as we approach towns and cities traffic may become heavier. As such experience of cycling on roads is preferable, however your leader will be giving instructions as required.

The longest day is approximately 75km and there is the occasional longer stretch of climbing, with 1.5km being the longest. In most cases the climbs are gradual, save the odd short burst of a slightly sharper gradient.

Should you choose to bring your own bike please ensure it is suitably geared to allow you to climb at a comfortable pace.

This trip is not designed to be taxing, instead to allow mainly gently countryside riding so as to fully enjoy the scenery.

Throughout the week, the group's luggage will be transferred separately each day between accommodations and as such there is limited vehicle support during the first part of the trip and full vehicle support while in the Cotswolds. The group will cycle some of the canal paths on their own, meeting the leader at various points of the day. A qualified & experienced cycling leader will cycle and be with the group in the Cotswolds.

Call for general departures:
052-4811569
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, Inns, Guesthouses

Kings Arm room
Kings Arm room

We stay in comfortable, traditional accommodation throughout the trip. All rooms are en suite.

The Kings Arms Melksham - an 18th-century inn offering a warm welcome and an authentic taste of the Wiltshire countryside. 

The Premier Inn Bath City - ideally located to maximise our time in this historic city.

The Bear of Rodborough - An idyllic Cotswold hotel in the village of Stroud. 

Call for general departures:
052-4811569
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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