There’s nothing better than taking the family out for a ride to enjoy the beautiful Chilterns countryside – zipping along quiet paths, wind in your hair, surrounded by nature and wildlife and the perfect excuse to treat everyone to an ice cream at the end of the ride!
Here in the Chiltern Hills we are lucky enough to have lots of open countryside and different habitats to explore but, as the name suggests, there are hills and this can sometimes put people off. (There’s nothing we can do about those though, you get used to them!) Parents are also concerned about their children riding on roads with traffic so we are often asked about places for families to enjoy a pleasant ride together.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most family friendly cycling route in the Chilterns. Some are off-road and traffic free, some involve short sections of quiet lanes, some are suitable for children of all ages, some are only suitable for slightly older children riding a bike with slightly bigger wheels, some have hills, some don’t. These are just suggestions of where you might want to go depending on how adventurous and fit you are and how old and confident the kids are. Many of these suggestions might also be suitable for beginners to try.
Cycling in the Chilterns: Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire
A well-known area for cycling and outdoor activities, Wendover Woods is owned by the Forestry Commission and has a 6 mile waymarked cycle route. Compared to other FC mountain bike trails, this is graded as ‘easy’ although it is steep in places. The trail does have a good, all weather, stone surface though. A map and route leaflet are available at the centre. They also have a Go-Ape and Junior Go-Ape course.
Cycling in the Chilterns: National Trust Ashridge Estate
Ashridge Estate covers around 5,000 acres of the Chiltern Hills and has been managed by the National Trust since 1926. There are a variety of bridleways criss-crossing the estate, some surfaces are in better condition than others and they can get very wet and muddy when it has been raining. There are also a couple of waymarked cycle routes, a map is available online or at the visitor centre.
Cycling in the Chilterns: The Phoenix Trail – Princes Risborough to Thame
Launched in spring 2002 the Phoenix Trail follows the course of an old railway line and forms part of National Cycle Network route 57. The 5 mile route is a shared use path with walkers and horse riders and is surfaced with tarmac and limestone dust. A tranquil path to amble along, the route is rich in wildlife and a place to spot Red Kites, it also has over 30 artworks from local artists sited along it.
Cycling in the Chilterns: Grand Union Canal
As Britain’s longest canal, Grand Union Canal runs for around 80 miles from London to Birmingham through rolling countryside, industrial towns and peaceful villages, including Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring and Marsworth with a currently unused arm to Wendover. The surface can vary from wide, gravel tracks to grass with muddy sections; it all depends on recent weather. Obviously being a canal the route is reasonably flat and is popular with other users.
Cycling in the Chilterns: Thames Path – Goring to Mapledurham House
As one of 16 National Trails across England and Wales the Thames Path is mostly made up of public footpath on which cyclists have no legal right to ride unless they have permission from the landowners. However, this little gem combines a public bridleway section and quiet lanes stretching from Goring all the way to Mapledurham. The 9 mile linear route starts at Goring station and makes a good out and back ride.
Cycling in the Chilterns: Stonor to Christmas Common/Christmas Common to Stonor
Two large sections of Restricted Byway and Public Bridleway that can be joined up to form a reasonably easy, traffic-free circular route of around 9km/6.5miles on gravel roads and dirt tracks, through Queen Wood and across farmland. As a circular route it can start with a descent from Christmas Common or save it until the end by starting at Stonor.
Cycling in the Chilterns: Berkhamsted through Ashridge Estate
With a little knowledge and some new bridleways this is a fantastic off-road route, steeped in history passing Berkhamsted Castle and the World War I trenches at the National Trust Ashridge Estate – a spectacular ride for everyone. Aside from the short road section at the start, it’s a 13.5 mile off-road route, great for beginners and children old enough to cover that distance.
These routes are just a small selection of the riding on offer in the Chilterns. There are a range of cycling facilities in the area too including pumptracks and BMX tracks and other trails similar to those listed above. Full details are on the Cycle Chilterns website.
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