Looking for something to do this Easter? On a budget? Well our fab collab Laura Hilton has the perfect solution for you, not only does it involve the great oudoors, but it also is a great way of getting fit AND bonding as a family! Want to know what we’re on about?! Then read on…
As the days get longer and the weather continues to improve (fingers crossed) we start to find the prospect of being outside increasingly appealing. One great way to enjoy time outside as a family is cycling. It enables the whole family to enjoy exploring the local area, allows every member to get active, and provides a great bonding opportunity through which you can make many happy memories. A family bike ride can be as long or as short as you like (or little legs can manage), so don’t discount the idea if the younger members of your family aren’t up to many miles yet. We have some wonderful cycle paths in our local area, meaning that car-free routes are easy to access, which makes family cycling safe and therefore far more appealing.
Chew Valley area
You can park in either of the Chew Valley Lake carparks, unload the bikes and from there you have access to roads which circumnavigate Chew Valley Lake via Bishop Sutton, West Harptree and Chew Stoke. If you like you can easily extend the route by continuing west towards Ubley and/or Blagdon Lake, or east towards East Harptree and/or Litton. There are a couple of small hills on these roads, but nothing longer legs can’t manage. These roads can get busy so this route is not advisable for less competent cyclists, but older children will enjoy exploring this flat, beautiful area that’s rich with wildlife. There are great refreshment stops at Salt & Malt at Chew Valley Lake or New Manor Farm Shop, just outside Bishop Sutton. There are also often ice cream vans positioned on the causeway sections of the lake.
Bath to Bristol cycle path
The Bath to Bristol cycle path offers a 13-mile flat route between the two cities. If you’re planning to cycle the whole route please be aware that there are small sections of the route that use quiet roads, but the majority of the route is traffic-free. There are plenty of picnic benches along the route perfect for lunch breaks, lots to look at including the trains at Bitton station. There are also several places to stop for refreshments along the way including the Bird in Hand pub in Saltford, and the cafe at Bitton Station (seating for which is two static carriages – perfect for train enthusiasts).
This route, which opened in 2013 features two well-lit tunnels that are great fun to cycle through however old you are. The route can easily be accessed from Bath Spa station, or you can easily park in Oldfield Park and unload the bikes from there. Sand Pits park can become a useful bribe back to the car for tired legs. The Combe Down tunnel is just over a mile long, so having a few layers to hand can be a good idea if your children are likely to need to walk at all. It can take quite a while to get back out into daylight and the tunnels can be pretty chilly, even on a warm summer’s day.
The Colliers Way stretches between the Dundas Aquaduct and Frome. It can easily be accessed from Bath, Frome, Radstock, Midsomer Norton and Mells. A good option is to park in Radstock and to get onto the track from there. This offers the added benefit of a great play area near the car, which can provide a useful incentive for tired legs to keep peddling towards the end of the ride.
Further afield the beautiful Strawberry Line allows cyclists to explore the beautiful Cheddar Valley area, including the edge of the Cheddar reservoir. There’s a tunnel in the Winscombe area that children enjoy cycling through and the trip can easily be combined with a wander up the lovely gorge for an ice cream or some fish and chips.
The pretend road in Alice Park is perfect for legs that are new to cycling. It’s a fun way to build confidence in a safe environment, and refreshments are readily available at the lovely park cafe
Odd Down cycle track
The brilliant cycle track at Odd Down offers a great opportunity for families to cycle together, and is particularly handy for those who want to build their confidence on their wheels. It’s can also be great if your children are quite varied in their cycling abilities. Newer cyclists can build their confidence, whilst more able cyclists can have fun timing themselves whizzing around the 1.5km loop.
I hope you have great fun exploring the wonderful cycle routes on our doorstep. Please share photos of your family having fun on their wheels, and share any other favourite routes with us. Enjoy! – Laura