The Great West Way from Bristol to London is rooted in the very history of England, telling its own story about the country’s past. From being one of six Great Roads commissioned by King Charles II in the 17th century, to facilitate postal deliveries across England, the route can be traced back further still to the rough wagon tracks of medieval times, and before that even to old Roman roads. The route has taken many detours over the years, and what better way to explore than on a gentle self guided bicycle tour, to experience the beauty and history of the area up close at your own pace. A short detour from the Great West Way takes you to Stonehenge one of the world’s most intriguing ancient monuments and to the beautiful 13th Century Salisbury Cathedral. Bathe like a Roman in Aqua Sulis – now better known as Bath! Marvel at the Kennet and Avon canal built at the end of the 18th-century, to link east and west via the River Avon and River Thames, to transport goods and produce efficiently from Bristol to London avoiding a dangerous trip over the ferocious seas of the English Channel. Today though you’ll find a blissfully different scene. A serene stretch of water and a wildlife conservation area, perfect for a gentle cycle. After meeting the mighty River Thames, the route takes you through the beautiful Chiltern Hills on the way to Windsor and the world’s oldest inhabited castle, Hampton Court Palace – scene of many a royal intrigue, and past Kew Gardens where your traffic free route takes you on into the beating heart of London. Explore these diverse but equally engaging parts of the country, with unique cycling routes that bring you closer to nature, and you’ll be able to see England’s history from every angle. At UNESCO World Heritage Sites, stately homes and medieval castles, offbeat museums and, of course, through the amazing anecdotes of the locals. One way or another, there’s always more to find out.



Holiday details

Price

Classic

from £2,390 per person

Based on two people sharing a room

What’s included?

A personal guided tour of Stonehenge.  See what’s included as standard

Duration

12 nights

Start & Finish

Starts daily from Bristol

Hotels

Classic

hand picked and centrally located hotels and guest houses in Bristol, Bath, Marlow, Windsor and London. Village inns elsewhere

Holiday type

Self-guided

This tour is priced without a guide and you are free to explore on your own.  If you would like a guide for part or all of your trip, we are happy to provide a knowledgeable, local guide

Activity level

Gentle cycling (4) More info...

Electric bikes

available

Mileage

11 days of cycling 18-31 miles per day

Terrain

mostly flat with some slopes and a hill on Day 6

Traffic-free

Very largely

Options

  • spend an extra day to explore Bath
  • take a detour off The Great West Way to visit Oxford
  • split the full trip into shorter sections


Itinerary day-by-day


Classic

  1. 1. Day one

    Arrive in Bristol

    Arrive in Bristol home of Brunel’s SS Great Britain the world’s first great ocean liner and marvel at his elegant Clifton Suspension Bridge. This vibrant ‘city of film’ has a wealth of arts and theatre to enjoy or just settle into your hotel and prepare yourself for your fascinating journey along England’s Great West Way.

  2. 2. Day two

    Bristol to Bath

    Your host will meet you this morning at your hotel to welcome you; brief you on your trip; share some local knowledge and deliver and set up your bikes. Your journey starts with a great ride along a disused railway track to the world heritage site of Bath known for its Georgian architecture and its Roman connections. Discover the Roman baths, a fine collection of museums, cobbled courtyards, historic tea rooms and the abbey.

    18 miles ( 29 km)

  3. 3. Day three

    Bath to Devizes

    Leave Bath along a magnificent canal and take in yet another characterful town at Bradford on Avon. Take in the dramatic flight of canal locks at Caen Hill. Wide vistas and a rural landscape follow before giving way to the cosy hamlets and villages of the picturesque Avon valley. This peaceful scene leads you to the charming market town of Devizes where you have the opportunity to spend the afternoon exploring the Norman Castle built in 1080.

    22 miles (35 km)

  4. 4. Day four

    Devizes to a Wiltshire Village

    A leisurely day today with the opportunity to spend a little more time in Devizes this morning Don’t miss the excellent Wiltshire museum and the Wadworth’s Brewery! Then take a short detour off The Great West Way across Salisbury Plain in the direction of Stonehenge where your stop for the night is just a stone’s throw from this iconic monument.

    24 miles (33 km)

  5. 5. Day five

    A Wiltshire Village to Salisbury and back

    This morning your personal guide will collect you from your accommodation and give you a tour of the world heritage site at Stonehenge. A prehistoric monument without parallel, its site and surroundings pose a number of questions. Returning to the present day and to your hotel, you have a delightful ride south to the historic city of Salisbury with its fine cathedral and setting. Track the Avon as it threads its way through the town and discover ancient buildings before returning to your hotel for a second night. This truly is a day full of drama!

    20 miles (32 km)

  6. 6. Day six

    A Wiltshire Village to Hungerford

    Challenge yourself today with a ride up onto Salisbury Plain as you head back to The Great West Way, where there are grand landscapes and far reaching views - a unique scene for this one day's cycling. Hungerford, where you will stay the night at a traditional inn, is an interesting market town that sits within the cosy Kennet valley which provides your route beyond the plain. Dotted with charming villages, the valley is criss-crossed by the picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal.

    28 miles (45 km)

  7. 7. Day seven

    Hungerford to Sonning

    Following the pretty canal as it flows towards the Thames River, weirs, locks, waterside cottages and meadows abound. This rural scene briefly gives way to the urban as the waterway flows through the heart of Reading and meets the bolder Thames just beyond. Here you have a ride beside the river before reaching the beautiful Chiltern Hills. Characterised by beech woods, soaring slopes and red kites this is an idyllic area. Your overnight stay is in an old inn nestling in a typical Chiltern village.

    27 miles (42 km)

  8. 8. Day eight

    Sonning to Marlow

    Follow the river today through the picturesque Chiltern Hills. There are some slopes on the quiet lanes but there are also wonderful views and woods as well as flat Thames towpath and pretty bridleways. Cycle through the delightful riverside town of Henley with its weirs and old mill; stop and visit the River and Rowing museum or some of the haunts of Inspector Barnaby from TVs Midsomer Murders, before reaching elegant Thameside Marlow.

    18 miles ( 29 km)

  9. 9. Day nine

    Marlow to Windsor

    Leave the riverside scene for a short while and enjoy quaint villages and country lanes before meeting the Thames again near Windsor. Cycle through the heart of Eton and across the river into Windsor where you will stay the night, almost adjacent to the castle. Now is an excellent opportunity to explore this historic castle and royal home with its dramatic riverside setting.

    20 miles (32 km)

  10. 10. Day ten

    Windsor to Old Shepperton

    There is a wonderful ride into Windsor Great Park if you want a little extra cycling; you will be rewarded with expansive views of London and a different glimpse of royal life. Then head off along the river towards Hampton Court passing houseboats and villas, famous islands and pretty lock cottages, your riverside hotel is in an old village square.

    14 or 31 miles (22 or 50 km)

  11. 11. Day eleven

    Old Shepperton to London

    Cycle beside the Thames almost all day and enjoy the royal history so prevalent along the banks of the river. Take in the palaces at Hampton Court, Richmond and Kew, the famous Botanical Gardens and the fine houses on the waterfront at Richmond. The route leads you almost traffic free past the Houses of Parliament to your hotel in the heart of London.

    32 miles (51 km)

  12. 12. Day twelve

    London to Greenwich

    Ride east towards the sea and unravel the layers of history that have built up over two centuries beside the River Thames. Take in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind, the Tower of London and the atmosphere of the old wharfs of London's docks. Enjoy a traffic - free route to the historic maritime centre of Greenwich and to the Thames Barrier where your adventure finally ends. Reward yourself with a lazy boat trip back upstream to your hotel for a second night and congratulate yourself on cycling England's Great West Way!

    13 miles (21 km)

  13. 13. Day thirteen

    Depart London

    Enjoy London and depart at your leisure. Your cycling equipment will be collected from your hotel.