Summer is gone! Don’t be sad; be glad that autumn is here. The country gets extra beautiful during this time of the year so now is the time to get on your bike and go see some of the changing colours, take advantage of the calmer weather, and enjoy the great cycling temperatures. Don’t wait too long though, another month we’ll be falling into winter so take advantage of what we have.
As autumnal fans, we’ve complied a few good tracks outside of London that could be worth exploring on your bike over the next few weeks. You can get to them via train and they should be a fun day out!
Tonbridge to Penshurst, Kent
This route is about 5 miles long but there’s so much in the area to explore you can use it as a jumping off point for your own exploration. Pop your bike on the train from Victoria or London Bridge and you’ll be in Tonbridge in about an hour. Starting at Tonbridge swimming pool car park (right by the station), you can check out the castle there or get straight on the trail. The trail is mostly gravel and woodland and is free from cars. As you pass under the A21 you’ll enter the Haysden Country Park, which is magnificent. A winner of a Green Flag award, its sure to be stunning this time of year.
Continue on and you’ll end up at Penshurst Place – a medieval manor with beautiful gardens you can check out. You’ll also get £1 off entry if you arrive by bike!
However don’t let the trail limit you! Around the area there’s a lot of beautiful lanes, pubs, picnic spots, and tearooms in the area. So if you want to explore off the train then this is a great area!
Route can be found here via Sustrans.
Viking Trail, Kent
The seaside isn’t the most obvious autum place – but the ocean can be particularly calm and incredibly beautiful during this time of year. The Viking trail is a 51km route around the Kent coast, taking in the coast of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate before heading inland through the surrounding villages. You can do all of it, or just part of it – but it touches some amazing places.
The Turner Contemporary Museum in Margate is a stunning new modern art museum housing many of Turners pieces, as well as contemporary landscape. You will also see the Viking Ship at Pegwell bay or the St Augustine’s Cross marking the site where the first Mass is reported to have been held in 597AD.
Grab your bike and take the train to Margate or Ramsgate or there are many bike hire places in the towns.
Epping Forest, Essex
If you haven’t been already, Epping forest is a great spot that’s convenient for Londoners. Take the Overground out to Chingford (you can pop your bike on too) and walk 5minutes (take a right out the station then first left onto Bury Road – trails begin just off the car park) towards the Golf Course.
If you don’t have a bike or want to mountain bike there is a fantastic bike hire place right be the golf course. You can book it all online to save you time.
From here the whole forest is yours to explore. Stay on trails, or if your bike allows – have a blast through the woodlands. There are cute little cafes perched in the woods or you can stop off at any of the surrounding towns. The Forest is very long, so watch the time in case you need to make a train or bike return deadline. Remember most towns around the forest have transportation links back into London – just check you can bring your bike.
Routes can be found here
The Oxford Waterway, Oxford
The Oxford Waterway is like the Regents Canal but less crowded and not in a huge bustling city. It’s relatively tame in terms of nature, but for the less ambitious or those wanting to stop at few pubs along the way – it’s a perfect day out this autumn.
Take the train to Wolvercote and from there you can take the path either one. One way takes you towards Oxford past the Trap Grounds nature reserve – the other way will take you past The Jolly boatman Pub and to the little hamlet of Thrupp. Stop off at Oxford University to explore some of the ancient buildings or get some exercise in and then post up at The Trout Inn in Lower Wolvercoate for a few pints at the end of it all.
Route and information (including bike hire if you need it) can be found here
I wanted to end with probably my favourite recent discovery for non-London cycling. The whole area around Bath is stunning. The countryside is beautiful, great pubs, and you have Bath itself. Even better, Bristol is a stones throw away. There’s a lot to love about the West Country.
For this area I couldn’t choose one route, because they are all great and quite different. Some are about 2 hours long, some four. One route takes you from Bath to Bristol in 2-3 hours entirely traffic free with canal –lined pubs.
All the information you could ever need is located right here
Trains take about 1.5 hours from London so leave early in the morning or better yet, book in at a local country pub somewhere along the route and spend time fully enjoying the Autumn. Loop back and return from Bath or take the trail up to Bristol and return from there.
There’s so much to do and explore this autumn – it might be slightly cooler than a few weeks ago but the sun is out and the weather is stable to take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy some trails. Happy cycling!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.