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The Cotswolds and Stonehenge

  • 3.5

    (4)

  • 9 nights | 30 miles/day
  • Difficulty Level: 3
  • Self-guided from: GBP1680
  • View Dates

Tours using road, hybrid or touring bikes:

  1. Mostly flat
  2. Flat with some gentle slopes
  3. Rolling, hilly terrain
  4. Some long and/or steep climbs
  5. Extensive climbing

Tours using mountain bikes:

  1. Mostly flat, wide trails
  2. Some gentle slopes, wide trails
  3. Rolling, hilly terrain and/or narrow trails
  4. Some long and/or steep climbs and/or technical trails
  5. Extensive climbing and/or highly technical trails
  1. Variety: Choose from more than 200 tours offered by local operators in 35 countries.
  2. Advice: Our informed advisors help you choose the trip that's right for you.
  3. Lower cost: You pay local tour company prices—less than what big American companies charge.
  4. Great exchange rates: Pay low rates thanks to the millions of dollars in foreign currency we buy each year.
  5. Convenience: We handle the full booking and payment process.
  6. Support: We’re your advocates from initial planning through final pedal stroke.

Tour description

This iconic trip includes the World Heritage sites of Stonehenge, Bath and Blenheim Palace and a stunning journey from Oxford to Stratford on Avon through the Cotswolds. Starting in the historic university city of Oxford you visit many of the best loved villages and valleys that have made the Cotswolds so memorable. See Chipping Campden, the Slaughters, Bibury, and Tetbury as you ride through the Windrush and Coln valleys.

Stay overnight in Stratford on Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare and if you wish enjoy one of his plays at the theatre. Absorb the Roman influence in Cirencester, the film backdrop of Lacock and the engineering feat of the Kennet and Avon Canal. In just 10 days, this tour encapsulates so many of England's historic landmarks. You can do no better!

Photo credits: Visit England, English Heritage, and Iain Lewis

Daily program

Day 1: Oxford
Arrive in Oxford and check into your hotel located in the heart of the city. Enjoy the treasures of this beautiful city and stroll through the lovely colleges of the University with their magnificent architecture and gardens. Take in the museums, galleries, and libraries galore, and perhaps a concert or play. Discover the little tea rooms and fine restaurants, the unique shops and back streets and the river backwaters dotted with punters and rowing eights.
Overnight in Oxford.

Day 2: Oxford – An Oxfordshire Village (33 miles/53 km)
Your host will meet you this morning with your bikes and run through your itinerary before your cycling journey begins. You leave Oxford on a traffic free route as you head towards the Cotswold village of Woodstock. Here is the world heritage site of Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill and now home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough.

Back in the saddle, you can then explore classic Cotswolds country - twisting lanes leading through pretty villages; tiny bridges crossing gurgling rivers; ancient woodlands and wonderful views. Your welcoming inn tonight overlooks a village green.

Day 3: An Oxfordshire Village – Stratford on Avon (32 miles/51 km)
Today's route leads you through a string of Cotswold stone hamlets and villages and to the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh where the Roman Fosse Way now defines the high street. There are plenty of cozy pubs for a lunch stop and the renowned gardens of Hidcote and Kiftsgate for inspiration.

From here it's a freewheel down the scarp slope of the Cotswolds and along an old railway track into Stratford on Avon. This famous old market town, needs little introduction as the birthplace of William Shakespeare and you can visit all the bard's houses in Stratford if you wish to pedal on. Your overnight stay is in the heart of the town with all its half-timbered buildings.
Overnight in Statford on Avon.

Day 4: Stratford on Avon – Chipping Campden (30 miles/48 km)
Enjoy the level ride this morning to the chocolate box village of Broadway perhaps allowing a detour to the medieval and cosy Fleece Inn. This afternoon is truly wonderful even though you encounter the main hill of the tour as you ride through sheep clad hills to the delightful village of Snowshill. Here you can visit the manor house and the stunning fields of lavendar whilst looking forward to a refreshment stop near the Broadway Tower with breathtaking views over 12 counties on a clear day. The gem of the Cotswolds, the 14th Century honey coloured stone buildings of Chipping Campden is where you will stay the night.
Overnight in Chipping Campden.

Day 5: Chipping Campden – Burford (32 miles/51 km)
You will experience the classic wolds and valleys of the Cotsowlds area today taking in a string of notable towns and villages. Visit Stow on the Wold, known for its antique shops now and as a woolen town formerly before discovering the idyllic hamlets of the Slaughters and joining the Windrush valley at Bourton on Water. This valley leads you through unspoilt villages to Burford, one of England's prettiest small medieval towns with beautiful Cotswold architecture and a high street to savour. Stay overnight here and explore the Windrush water meadows if you wish.
Overnight in Burford.

Day 6: Burford – Ewen (36 miles/58 km)
Pedal through a timeless landscape today that is utterly charming. Rejoin the Windrush river and pause for a coffee in Northleach. Then explore the tiny Coln river; it bears a Roman villa at Chedworth and a series of tiny crossings before arriving in Bibury, famous for its weavers cottages. The Cotswold capital of Cirencester features next - important since Roman times and still a delight today. Your overnight stay is in the peaceful hamlet of Ewen a few miles further on where the inn dates back to the 16th Century.
Overnight in Ewen.

Day 7: Ewen – Lacock (38 miles/61 km)
Still in the idyllic Cotswold landscape of quiet lanes, pretty farms and peaceful villages, there are some interesting places to stop by today. At Highgrove you can take a thirst quencher or coffee at Prince Charles's farm whilst in Tetbury there's plenty to explore in this lovely old wool market town. If trees are your thing you can make a short detour to the world renowned and spectacular National Arboretum at Westonbirt. There is also a wonderful pottery and close by a stunning private garden where we may be able to arrange a visit. The most remarkable find of the day maybe Lacock where you will spend the next two nights. Dating back to the 13th Century, this charming rural village with a medieval abbey remains untouched by modern development.
Overnight in Lacock.

Day 8: Lacock – Bath – Lacock (33 miles/53 km)
This is a great ride to the world heritage site of Bath known for its Georgian architecture and its Roman connections. Discover the Roman baths, a fine collection of museums, cobbled courtyards, historic tea rooms and the abbey. Leave Bath along a magnificent canal and take in yet another characterful town at Bradford on Avon. Here there is a short climb as you head back to Lacock. Truly a day to remember!
Overnight in Lacock.

Day 9: Lacock – A Wiltshire Village (38 miles/61 km)
Your last day of cycling leads you away from the Cotswolds and takes in the dramatic flight of canal locks at Caen Hill. Wide vistas and a rural landscape follow before giving way to the cosy hamlets and villages of the picturesque Avon valley. This peaceful scene leads you to within ear shot of Stonehenge and your final night's stay.
Overnight in Salisbury.

Day 10: Tour Stonehenge and Depart
This morning your personal guide will collect you from your accommodation and give you a tour of the world heritage site at Stonehenge. A prehistoric monument without parallel, its site and surroundings pose a number of questions. What a dramatic end to your historic ride through England! We will bid you farewell by transferring you to Salisbury station.

Dates

Saturdays, year-round, 2018

Prices

Category A: Luxury hotels
Per person, double occupancy
GBP2460
Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room)
GBP640
Solo traveler surcharge (1 person in party)
GBP1175
Category B: Classic hotels
Per person, double occupancy
GBP1680
Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room)
GBP495
Solo traveler surcharge (1 person in party)
GBP1030
Please note: Instead of operating bicycle tours ourselves, BikeTours.com represents local bicycle tour operators around the world. Review the tour operator's information and terms below, then submit your booking request through BikeTours.com. The primary benefits of booking your tour through BikeTours.com include:
  • Lower cost: You pay local tour company prices—less than what big American companies charge
  • Variety: Choose from more than 200 tours offered by local operators in 35 countries.
  • Advice: Our informed advisors help you choose the trip that's right for you.
  • Great exchange rates: Pay low rates thanks to the millions of dollars in foreign currency we buy each year. Or pay in euros!
  • Convenience: We handle the full booking and payment process.
  • Support: We’re your advocates from initial planning through final pedal stroke.
Contact us with any questions about booking and paying for your tour through BikeTours.com. We look forward to serving you!

The Carter Company CANCELLATIONS AND AMENDMENTS
Should you wish to cancel your trip you may do so by writing to us. If you cancel, you will be liable to pay the following fees:

Number of days before trip starts and Cancellation Fee per person:

  • 60 days or more:  30%
  • 29 - 59 days:  50% of total price
  • 15 - 28 days:  75% of total price
  • 0 - 14 days:  No refund

If, after you have paid your deposit, you wish to change your arrangements in any way, we will do our utmost to make these changes, but it may not always be possible. Any request for changes to be made must be from the "lead name" on the booking. You will be asked to pay an administration charge of £80.00 per person

1. BOOKING CONFIRMATION
When we receive your booking form we will check the availability of your trip and confirm your party details with you.

3. OUR AGREEMENT
When you book a trip, a contract is made when we or your Travel Agent confirm your booking, which is your commitment to pay for the whole trip. We will send you an invoice the day after you have made the booking. The person providing the contact details accepts responsibility for paying for all the people in the booking. You must be at least 18 years old to make a booking with us. This agreement will be governed by English Law and any disputes will be dealt with by the English Courts. If however you have booked your trip in Scotland or Northern Ireland any disputes may be dealt with in the local courts in Scotland or Northern Ireland and will be subject to the law of those courts

4. YOUR FINANCIAL PROTECTION
The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) provides financial protection under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 for the tour operator, and in the event of our insolvency, protection is provided for the following:

  • non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK;
  • non-flight packages commencing and returning to a country other than the UK; and
  • flight inclusive packages that commence outside of the UK, which are sold to customers outside of the UK.
  • 1, 2 and 3 provides for a refund in the event you have not yet travelled. 1 and 3 provides for repatriation. Please note that bookings made outside the UK are only protected by ABTOT when purchased directly with the tour operator.

5. PRICE GUARANTEE
The prices quoted are guaranteed until the end of October 2018 and are inclusive of tax and delivery costs. Prices are quoted in Pounds sterling and are payable in that currency

7. ITINERARY CHANGES
All our trips are personally researched by us and carefully planned. As conditions change though we may find improvements to our itineraries that will benefit everyone. We may also have to alter an itinerary due to unforeseen circumstances. We will always seek to maintain our high standards

8. INSURANCE
To take one of our trips, you must have Travel Insurance covering unexpected costs due to illness, accident, trip cancellation or lost luggage. If you live outside the UK, this should be obtained in your home country

9. COMPLAINTS
Should you have a complaint during your trip please notify our host and they will do their best to rectify the difficulty. If it is not possible to resolve the problem on the spot and you wish to write to us after your trip, this should be done within 28 days of your trip end

10. ACCOMMODATION
On our luxury trips, the accommodation is among the finest available in the areas you tour. All bedrooms have private bath or shower rooms with tea and coffee making facilities etc. On our classic trips, all accommodation is hand-picked and all is ensuite. If you would like a single room, which will carry a supplement or a family room, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you

11. MEALS
All our trips include breakfast each day. Dinner is included where specified on luxury trips. We leave you free to make your own choices for lunch

12. HELMETS
We recommend that you wear a helmet when cycling and helmets are included in the trip price unless stated

13. BICYCLES
Bicycle hire is included on all our cycling trips unless stated and you are responsible for the bicycle during this period. If the bicycle is lost or damaged during its hire we are entitled to charge you for its repair or replacement. We recommend that you use our bicycles rather than bring your own but if you wish to bring your own the price of your trip will be reduced by a nominal amount. Please ask us for each trip. Our bicycles come with a pannier, water bottle holder, pump, cable lock, puncture repair kit and map holder

14. WET WEATHER
If it rains, you will sometimes get wet! If it is raining in the morning, have another cup of coffee and start your journey when the rain lightens. On all our trip days there is plenty of time to linger and very often there is the option to take a train or boat to your next hotel

15. LANGUAGE
If you don't speak English very well, don't worry! Our hosts are on hand to help with communication and in most of our hotels, there is likely to be a member of staff that speaks your language

16. FITNESS
All our trips are designed to be enjoyed by anyone who is reasonably fit. Most are leisurely journeys with plenty of time for relaxation and sightseeing and some include days when you don't need to be active at all. The more demanding trips where we suggest some regular cycling or walking as a prerequisite are listed. If you haven't cycled or done much distance walking for a while, it is better to get in shape before rather than during the tour. If you are in doubt about your physical ability, let us know so that we can advise you on your trip selection

17. RISK
In taking one of our trips, you agree to travel at your own risk

All photos used by permission. ©The Carter Company

Ratings

Ratings Snapshot

  • 5 Star 1
  • 4 Star 1
  • 3 Star 1
  • 2 Star 1
  • 1 Star 0

Average Ratings

  • Overall

    3.5

  • Difficulty level (Actual vs. expected) 3.8
  • Value 2.5
  • Included meals 3.3
  • Bikes & equipment 3.5
  • Hotels or boat 4
  • Scenery 4.5
  • Ease of navigation 3
  • Tour documents 3.8
  • Local tour company services 3.8
  • Route selection 3.8

Reviews

Jim n Anne November 21, 2017

Almost Too Much To See!

The Cotswolds tour was so interesting; we visited so many lovely honey-colored villages, plus the must-see spots - Stratford-on-Avon, Bath, Stonehenge. The bikes were perfectly suited to the terrain, the roads were quiet, and the gps routes worked perfectly which was good because the routing was complicated. The accommodations were lovely, and easy to find.

JDig October 10, 2017

Idyllic countryside

The Carter Company is very organized and has done a fantastic job developing a route off the beaten trail and on very lightly traveled roads. It seemed like we were riding through a picture postcard village every 4-5miles. There are hills but none that were too long. The locals were very welcoming. We came across many hikers but very few other bikers. I highly recommend this tour.

ipatom August 20, 2016

Disappointing due to bikes ill-suited to the terrain

As stated by another reviewer, this tour was more difficult than advertised due to the rolling terrain. The biggest problem for my wife and me was that the bikes were too heavy. Also, the bike locks were heavy NYC style chain locks that weighed at least 3 pounds - good for security but bad for touring cyclists. This area is more complicated than recent self-guided tours we took in France and Italy. We got lost more frequently and bikes were not supplied with simple cyclometers that would have been a great help in navigation. Incidentally, we crossed the Appennine mountains last year on hybrids with no problem so we're used to hilly terrain. I thought the cyclometer issue would be ameliorated by our GPS phone but mobile coverage in the Cotswolds is sporadic due to lack of cell towers that might despoil the bucolic countryside. On the positive side, the towns we stayed in were picturesque and the hotels were centrally located. Bike quality and suitability is important on any bike tour and Carter Company did not measure up in this regard therefore I can't recommend this tour.

Responses from Biketours.com

Lindsay Nash April 26, 2018
Hi, thanks for your patience! The operator has responded and said they will be offering lighter weight bicycles and GPS for the 2017 season! Thank you again for your valuable feedback which is helping to improve this tour experience.
Lindsay Nash April 26, 2018
Thanks very much for your feedback, which we take very seriously. We're following up on your comments about the bicycles with the tour operator to see what improvements can be made. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us and other travelers.
Jim Johnson April 26, 2018
We're received word that the local tour company has gotten new bikes for the 2017 season: “brand new Trek bicycles which are much lighter than the previous ones.”
Noodle July 2, 2016

Beautiful scenery but harder than expected

As a somewhat novice bicyclist, I found this trip to be a greater challenge than expected. Having completed a level 2 tour in Italy last fall (Bolzano to Venice, a fantastic trip) I was assuming a similar difficulty level for this level 2 trip. Not so. I would estimate that 75% of the tour is rolling hills, 15% moderate upgrade/downgrade, and 10% level. The other negative for me was the vast majority of the tour was on narrow country roads with no shoulders, and yielding way for cars was the norm rather than exception. We were generally pleased with the upgraded hotels we stayed at and the larger towns offered some decent restaurants, particularly Indian cuisine, as well as lovely old pubs where we enjoyed many a well deserved pint. The trip directions were generally adequate, with some glaring exceptions where they were unclear or downright wrong. There were no odometers provided on the bikes so it was up to us to estimate distances. The countryside is very beautiful but the scenery does not vary much throughout the tour. We did this trip in late June and the weather was mostly in the 60's and overcast, with some rain.