The Cotswolds may not have the same reputation as the Surrey Hills, the Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, but this quintessentially British landscape is one of the great untold secrets of cycling in the UK.
Anyone who has ridden here will have fallen in love with the challenging climbs, gorgeous views and charming café stops. All it takes is one trip, and you’ll fall in love with it too.
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The Cotswold Hills – the clue is in the name. Everywhere you look you’ll find some of the country’s best cycling climbs. Long or short, gentle or lung-burstingly steep, the combination of challenges and exhilarating descents make for some of the best training roads that the UK has to offer. Head north to Chipping Campden or Winchcombe to really test yourself.
Listen to the whirr of your spokes reflect off stone cottages and blend into the happy trickling of streams. Peer into quaint kitchen gardens and watch the bees busily hurry around archetypal English country gardens. Pure bliss.
Excellent cafes and pubs
Nowhere else in England is there such a wealth of traditional pubs spilling over with old world charm. In summer, sit outside and soak up the glorious sunshine; in the winter find yourself a corner and warm your hands and feet by the fire. And if you’re looking for a quicker stop, grab a cup of tea and a scone from a traditional tea-room or explore some of the quirky independent coffee houses that have sprung up in recent years. You’re spoilt for choice.
Thousands of quiet lanes
With a myriad of roads criss-crossing the Cotswolds, you can be sure of finding a quiet lane to enjoy all by yourself. Roll through lush copses and past dry-stone walls with the wind in your hair, with nothing but the rustling of the poplars, the humming of the crickets and the soft bleating of sheep to accompany you.
You never know what you’ll find
Look closely and you can find pretty villages far from the tourist trail, hidden country estates and some sumptious gardens. There are even Roman villas and ancient Neolithic standing stones — and if you’re really lucky you might even stumble across the local ‘Olimpicks’ in Chipping Campden or the infamous cheese-rolling on Cooper’s Hill near Brockworth.
That glorious golden glow
There’s something about the way that the late afternoon sun hits the ripe, golden fields and the Cotswolds’ honey-coloured limestone that has to be seen to be believed. It is utterly, utterly wonderful.
Interesting place names
Which of us wouldn’t chuckle when riding through Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter, Compton Scorpion, Foss Cross, Ready Token or Petty France? Some, like Temple Guiting and Guiting Power, are just downright peculiar. There’s even a road named ‘Granny’s Pumps.’
If gentler cycling is more your thing, the Cotswold Line cycle way bisects the region by following the line of the railway from Oxford to Worcester, tracking close to the River Evenlode along quiet lanes. Whether it’s a family-friendly route, or you simply don’t fancy slogging up any more hills, the Cotswolds offers something for everyone.
What better way to end a day out on the bike than with a refreshing pint? The Cotswolds are full of independent breweries using local ingredients to craft old-fashioned English ales as well as more modern craft ales and lagers. Keep your eyes out for the Cotswold Brewing Company, the Wychwood Brewery, and the historic Hook Norton Brewery.
If the Cotswolds are the perfect place to ride, the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is the perfect way to get there. This versatile seven-seater offers you a myriad of family-friendly configurations, and you can fold seats away to boost space for your bike or your luggage — and the automatic opening and closing tailgate is ideal when you’ve got your hands full after a long ride.
To win your own luxury family weekend away in the Cotswolds with the use of a BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer for the duration, click here.