The Cycleplan Blog

The 5 Best Cycle Routes In Bristol

With Sustrans – the charity behind the National Cycle Network – being founded in Bristol, there are no shortages of well-marked and well-maintained cycle routes across Bristol and Avon.

The organisation has created over 16,000 miles of signed cycle routes throughout the UK, including 5,200 miles of traffic-free paths. That’s on top of all the existing trails found throughout Bristol’s scenic green belt.

Here are the best Bristol cycle routes to take in the city’s amazing scenery.

Bristol and Bath Railway Path

Bristol cycle routes

Distance: 13.9 miles
Elevation: 266m
Map: Download here

This is one of the most popular routes in Bristol for cyclists and walkers alike. It was originally a railway in the 1960s, before Sustrans converted it into a cycle path between 1979 and 1986. In the process, it became the first of Sustrans’ many cycleways.

The Bristol and Bath Railway Path is a point-to-point route and can be ridden in either direction. You can set off in Bristol on the corner of Trinity Street and St. Philips Road, or in Bath from the old railway bridge before Windsor Bridge Road. The riverside path continues into the centre of Bath, so why not carry on and explore this beautiful town if you have the time?

You won’t have to contend with any cars on this route either. It’s entirely traffic-free and lined with lush greenery, so you’ll feel nestled into the countryside. There are some interesting features along the way as well, namely the Staple Hill tunnel and the traditional Bitton train station serving refreshments, cakes and sandwiches.

Bristol to Portishead

Bristol cycle routes

Distance: 11.2 miles
Elevation: 329m
Map: Download here

Beginning at Queen Square, you ride directly south to the wharf, crossing the small Prince Street bridge before taking a right and cutting through Museum Street to meet the River Avon.

From here, you ride along the River Avon’s banks as it winds down the striking Avon Gorge, past Leigh Woods and underneath the towering Clifton Suspension Bridge. The dirt path is smooth and the sharpest hill is only a 30m incline over 1.5 miles on the approach to Ham Green, so this ride is well suited to cruising.

At the halfway point, you’ll arrive at the quaint boating village of Pill. Here, you can stop for lunch or a quick coffee before pressing onto Portishead.

The last quarter of the journey hops back onto the road, but you’ll still ride along tree-lined lanes between farmland for the most part. Once you reach Portishead, you can continue northwest and finally rest at the shoreline overlooking Wales across the Bristol Channel.

Chew Valley Lake Loop

Bristol cycle routes

Distance: 24.2 miles
Elevation: 541m
Map: Download here

The start point for the Chew Valley Lake Loop is at Queen Square in the heart of Bristol. The trail is easy to navigate, as you stick to National Route 3 heading south and continue in this direction. In fact, you only return north once you hit Chew Lake and jump on Route 410 to take you back around.

At Felton Lane, turn onto Route 334 and follow it until Pear Tree Avenue. Here, you’ll take Route 33 to bring you back into Bristol via Long Ashton and Ashton Court.

The surface of the Chew Valley Lake Loop route is entirely asphalt and there are some traffic-free sections as well. This is an ideal route to take your road bike out on.

The top of Dundry Hill out of Bristol yields fantastic views, so it’s well worth the climb. The latter part of this route takes you through the charming village of Chew Magna and onto Chew Lake, which is renowned for bird watching.

Avon Cycleway

Bristol cycle routes

Distance: 85.5 miles
Elevation: 1471m
Map: Download here

If you’re up for a challenge, the 86-mile long Avon Cycleway has a bit of everything – hills, lakes, woodland, history and dramatic views.

It circles Bristol from its outskirts, dipping into Bath and parts of Somerset along the way. Start from whichever point suits you best and simply follow Route 3 and 4 until you’re back where you started.

En route, you’ll see a substantial selection of Bristol’s natural and industrial attractions, from the striking Pensford viaduct to the Stanton Drew stone circles.

You’ll also get to see the vast woodland around Iron Action. There’s idyllic countryside scenery throughout the route, punctuated by cosy towns and villages.

The Avon Cycleway is a route for culture buffs and those with a penchant for distance riding. A hybrid bike is most suitable for this route because while most of it is asphalt, there are sections of loose stone paths.

Bristol Docks Loop

Bristol cycle routes

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: 57m
Map: Download here

Some might argue that Bristol is best experienced by bicycle – and it’s hard to disagree after watching this documentary from Böikzmöind, a Bristol fixie bike community.

The Bristol Docks Loop consists of nearly three-quarters traffic-free paths, which is quite a feat for a city centre cycle route. At 3 miles, it’s perfect for taking things  easy and soaking up the city’s atmosphere.

You can glide down the banks of the Avon and cut across town to see all it has to offer in no time compared to walking or using public transport. There’s something more romantic about it too.

Starting at Bristol Cathedral, you’ll pass the Bristol central library and then join the path at the wharf for views of the docks and the SS Great Britain. Pass the docks and you’ll join the River Avon and the Chocolate Path will guide you back into town. Central Bristol is full of pubs and cafes if you fancy a pit stop before finishing off the ride.

Now you know where to take your bike when you visit Bristol, make sure you’re safe when you do. Our specialist cycling insurance means you’ll be covered against injuries and your bike and accessories will be covered against damage, theft, or loss – whether you’re out riding or at home. Get an instant online quote today and see what we can do for you.

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