The Bristol and Bath Cycle Path: The perfect place for an autumn stroll

The iconic cycle Path between Bristol and Bath is the best way to spend a sunny afternoon. 

A couple are taking a walk along the stretch of the Path between Saltford and Bath.

I love the Path and now carrying more than one million trips a year, I am not the only one! Regardless of whether you like to walk, run or cycle, it’s a great way to exercise during lockdown.

It’s also traffic-free, so is ideal for children and beginners to cycling. The Path also has access for disabled users, so it is truly accessible for absolutely anyone! 

Sometimes the Path is so quiet you feel such peace being alone in nature. As shown by the runner far in the distance.

History of cycle track 

The Path has a rich history as it was constructed on the trackbed of the former Midland Railway, which was closed at the later part of the 1960s. The Path itself dates back to 1829, as the earliest section of the path connecting Coxgrove Hill with Willsbridge, was part of the former Avon and Gloucestershire Railway.

The Path was built to carry coal from Kingswood’s Coalpit Heath collieries near Yate down to the River Avon. The section from Mangotsfield to Bristol was within a few years reconstructed for the use of steam trains. Bringing the south into the ever-expanding rail network. 

The modern Path was built by the cycling charity Sustrans between 1979 and 1986. The campaign group Cyclebag was also involved in building the first stretch between Bath and Bitton, building the now-iconic 2m wide dust track. 

The route then stretched westward with Bristol being the last section built. Many of the former stations along the Path are extremely popular pit stops and a source of historical interest. Especially to rail enthusiast who flock there every year! 

Cyclists look relaxed underneath one of the Paths many bridges.

But where is the Path?

The Path begins in central Bristol before looping North towards Fishponds, then continuing through Staple Hill Tunnel. Emerging in South Gloucestershire, it passes through Mangotsfield, Warmley and Bitton. The last stretch goes through Bath & North East Somerset, passing through Saltford towards Newbridge, Bath.

From the Cycle Path you can see Kelston Round Hill in the distance.

Now the most important part … where to eat!

As a British person, it feels wrong to write about the Cycle Path without mentioning my favourite pubs along the Path. As somebody who lives near Saltford, two of my personal favourite pubs along the Path are the Bird in Hand and the Jolly Sailor.

But if Pubs aren’t your scene, there are many other great spots such as the Avon Valley Railway café, near one of the oldest parts of the Path. 

The distinctive logo of the cycle path was developed by Katy Hallet for Sustrans and is near the exit to the Bird and Hand Pub in Saltford.

The Path offers so much from seeing (or potentially riding) a working steam train at the Avon Valley Railway at Bitton to the public art and sculptures along the route. There’s something for everyone!

There is incredible artwork along the whole stretch of the Path, including this piece which features many tyres attached to this old railway infrastructure.