If you’re still on track for keeping fit in 2018, you’ve probably considered taking up cycling! As well as keeping you fit and healthy, it’s also social, good for the environment, appropriate for all ages and most importantly a whole lot of fun!
Did we mention it’s also a perfect way to explore somewhere new and appreciate the beautiful countryside? Whether you want to mountain bike through English woodlands or cycle down country lanes, there’s so much to see up and down the country. So, saddle up and explore somewhere new this year.
There’s plenty of room to take your bike on the train when you travel with CrossCountry, so hop aboard one of our trains and explore some of Berkshire’s stunning countryside.
Choosing the Perfect Route
Discover all the landmarks and pit stops in the map below.
To help you out, we’ve chosen a great route which begins and ends in the historical town of Reading. A cultural place, business space and living base, Reading is also the starting point for a handful of stunning cycle routes that wind their way through Berkshire. We’ve chosen to focus on a loop that covers a mixed route of canal towpaths, country lanes and roads, which is mainly flat with one tougher climb.
From Reading Station, the beginning of this cycle route is just 100 yards away, on the north bank of the Thames at Reading Bridge.
Within just a mile or so of leaving the busy roads of Caversham, you’ll feel like you’re a world away. Mapledurham is home to the last operational watermill on the River Thames and you will make your way along some of the many winding, narrow lanes. Thanks to its picturesque situation and lack of traffic, Mapledurham has been used as a set for several films, including the 1976 thriller ‘The Eagle has Landed’.
Follow the map north to the pretty village of Whitchurch-on-Thames. Lined with charming flint cottages and Georgian townhouses, the village lies within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Much of the town is designated as a Conservation Area, but you can find two pubs, a maze and even an alpaca breeding centre here!
As you continue along the route, you will follow tracks along the edge of the Thames. Whiz through the woodland to Goring & Streatley - two ancient riverside villages, separated by a river and joined by a bridge. Goring & Streatley is a popular holiday destination known for its hospitality, scenery and local attractions. So, lock up your bike and spend some time in the unspoilt scenery that surrounds.
The villages are surrounded by big open spaces criss-crossed with footpaths and trails that are perfect for exploring. If you’re feeling peckish, pop into Pierreponts café and restaurant, which prides itself on serving fresh, locally sourced food. It was recently voted one of the top cafés in Britain for breakfast and brunch, so it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s located on the Goring end of the bridge and if the weather permits, you can dine alfresco!
Leaving Goring & Streatley, you should follow the map south through Aldworth and round to Hampstead Norreys, where you can explore a rainforest without leaving the UK. The Living Rainforest is home to 700 species of plants and animals, including birds, butterflies, lizards and even a two-toed sloth! Visit the cosy White Hart pub nearby for great atmosphere, good beer and even better food.
Continuing on the cycle route, you will pass through the civil parish of Pangbourne and the quiet lanes of Sulham, before encountering the only hard climb of the ride. Don’t worry – the views from the top are well worth the uphill slog.
The final stretch follows the number 4 cycle route along a towpath from Theale. Here you can enjoy peaceful views along the river. If you fancy stopping off to quench your thirst before heading back to Reading, check out the Cunning Man pub; a country inn oozing rural charm and rustic character with a great beer garden and seasonal pub-grub menu.
It’s then just a 20-minute ride back to Reading centre.
Exploring Reading after your ride
Reading is most well-known for its annual summer music festival but that’s not all this enchanting city has to offer. Boasting two beautiful rivers and over 800 listed buildings and monuments, as well as Michelin Star restaurants, museums and a plethora of shops, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
For more information about Reading, check out our Reading Guide.
If you’re keen to get moving and discover somewhere new, take advantage of discounted prices on Advance tickets with CrossCountry.