Find the south west's most scenic cycle routes with SWR

Most scenic cycling routes in the south west

11 January 2022

Fancy a scenic day out exploring on two wheels? Or perhaps you’re planning an entire cycling holiday? Whatever your intentions, and whether you’re preparing for an adventure with your partner, your family or your friends, the south west is the perfect destination for getting out and about on your bike.

With South Western Railway, you can take your bike on the train and then you’re ready to go from the moment you disembark! Read on to discover seven of the most scenic cycling routes in London and the south west.

Most Scenic Cycling Routes in London

There’s no better way to see our capital city than by bike. Thanks to its plentiful cycle paths and superhighways, you can visit some of London’s key sites and cover a lot of ground while feeling pretty safe in the process! Here are some of the best cycle routes in London:

Big Ben to the Tower of London

For a leisurely sightseeing cycle around the city, this is the cycle route for you. It’s just 5km long and follows the River Thames, so you don’t have to think too much about navigating your way around. Catch the train to London Waterloo and cycle around the corner to Big Ben – but stay on the south side of the river. Follow your way along the river, taking in the riverside views, the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe and so much more! Your final destination in the Tower of London, and you could even enjoy a ride over Tower Bridge for the ultimate memorable experience. Take it at your own pace – it's only 5km but you could easily make a day of it!

Tower Bridge at dusk

Battersea Park to Greenwich

If you like the idea of a riverside cycle but want to cover a little more distance, then the 16km cycle route from Battersea Park to Greenwich will be right up your street. You’ll pass all the same landmarks with some added extras including the leafy expanse of Battersea Park, the towering skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the historic sights of Greenwich. The journey is made up of quieter roads and traffic-free paths, so you’ll feel safe as you sightsee to your heart’s content!

View of the city of London over the old Naval College in Greenwich

Catch the train to London Waterloo and cycle 20 minutes to the starting point (or cut off that leg and start midway through).

Big Ben to Richmond Park Loop

Fancy something more challenging? Give the cycle from Big Ben to Richmond Park a go! This 38km circular trail is one of the best cycle routes in London and takes you from central London to the scenic outskirts of the city and the beautiful Richmond Park – so you’ll get a good glimpse of all that London has to offer. This route takes you past Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, and once you’re in the park, be on the lookout for the famous deer that roam freely. Stop for a coffee or lunch in the park and take some time to soak in the scenic countryside that is right on the city’s doorstep.

A stag in Richmond Park

Take the train to London Waterloo to begin your ride.

Most Scenic Cycling Routes in the South West

Head further into the south west of the UK for scenic cycle routes that are all accessible on our network. These routes will take you through rolling countryside, along riverside stretches and past impressive points of interest. Here are some of our favourites:

The Red Squirrel Trail, Isle of Wight

There are a number of cycling routes on the Isle of Wight, but this 50km trail is one of the most popular. The Red Squirrel Trail follows a disused railway track from Cowes (the route starts and ends here so it’s ideal for a day trip from Southampton). It’s an easy, family-friendly, traffic-free route that can be completed in one go or tackled in sections. Why not make a family cycling holiday of it and complete it over two or three days? The route is so-called because of the island’s native red squirrel, so keep an eye out for the little furry creatures as you pedal from Cowes, through Newport, to Sandown on the coast.

Sandown Bay

Get a train to Southampton Central and then hop on the ferry or fast catamaran to Cowes. Make the most of our combined train and ferry tickets to save on your journey.

Exe Estuary Trail, Devon

Nothing beats a riverside cycle, and the 26km cycle route along the Exe Estuary doesn’t disappoint. This newly constructed cycle trail is almost entirely traffic-free, and takes you all the way from Dawlish on the west side of the estuary to Exmouth on the east side. On the way, you’ll pass through the beautiful villages of Starcross, Topsham and Lympstone (plus many more!), and with RSPB reserves near Topsham and Dawlish Warren, there are plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife.

Topsham Bay, on the River Exe estuary

The nearest SWR station is Exeter St David’s. You could choose to start your bike ride from here and complete just one half of the cycle route, or alternatively jump on a connecting train to Dawlish or Exmouth to complete the full trail.

Reading to Basingstoke  

Saddle up and get set for a 38km cycle from Reading to Basingstoke. This cycle route uses National Cycle Network 23 to take you from Berkshire into Hampshire, and on the way you’ll pass several points of interest including the Roman settlement of Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester), Stratfield Saye House (the ancestral home of the Duke of Wellington) and Wellington Country Park (350 acares of wooded parkland).

Wellington Park lake view

Catch the train to Reading, and from there the route follows quiet lanes and traffic-free paths all the way down to Basingstoke.

Corfe Castle Loop

This is one for the avid cyclists amongst us! Starting and ending in Bournemouth, this 70km circular cycle route takes you around Poole Harbour, through Wareham and into Corfe village. There are many amazing highlights on this route, with the pièce de résistance being the spectacular views over Corfe Castle. It’s a hilly route, so be prepared for burning glutes!

View of Corfe Castle at sunrise

Take a train to Bournemouth to begin your adventure.

There are plenty of scenic cycle routes to take your pick from in London and the south west. Once you’ve decided which one you want to try first, explore our flexible range of ticket types and book your train tickets with SWR. Remember that if you have a Railcard, you could save even more on your fare! Find out more about travelling with a bike and what else you can bring on board.