London weekend getaway: From Maidenhead to Windsor

dorne lake

The area surrounding Maidenhead ticked a lot of boxes when I was recently looking for a weekend away from London. Great gastropubs, cafes, lots of cycle routes along the river, old manor houses and there were even opportunities to sail, kayak and paddle board for the adventurous at Bray Lake.

With it being off season, the River Arts Club was a reasonably priced place to stay and gave us a good starting point for exploring.

The train from Paddington takes around 40 minutes and we managed to get our bikes on without booking ahead.

Once we reached Maidenhead, we dropped off our things and started cycling.

Soon, we were covered in mud, back wheel sliding everywhere but having a great time. It turns out a single speed and a road bike are not the best for for the muddy river side paths. At one point, we pulled over and had to remove mud from a completely clogged brake.

I’ve plotted the 8 mile route we followed on Ride with GPS. We started in Maidenhead and aimed towards Windsor. On the way, we stopped off at Dorney Court. There’s a nice cafe that has an enormous BLT sandwich on the menu. Perfect fuel for a ride.

Near Dorney Court is Dorney Lake. Built in 2006, this is a purpose-built rowing lake and was used in the Olympics. The area surrounding the lake is perfect for cycling.

After the lake, you can follow the river all the way to Windsor. This is quite a nice town to walk around and, if you’ve got the energy, a visit of Windsor Castle.

For variety, it’s easy to choose one of the other cycle paths to get back to Maidenhead.

If staying overnight and for a more road bike friendly route, you can ride uphill to the Cliveden House. The Italianate mansion and estate regularly ranks in the top 10 National Trust sights to visit.

After visiting the grounds, you can speed down the hill and at the other end you’ll find the village of Cookham. There are some excellent gastropubs to choose from here. We ate at The White Oak and were thoroughly impressed.

From Cookham, it’s a short cycle back to Maidenhead.

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway just outside of London, which isn’t too challenging, I can thoroughly recommend it. My only regret was not getting any more pictures other than one of me awkwardly plotting my route on the iPhone!

For more weekend getaway ideas, take a look at our breakout of London series.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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