A great opportunity to get outside….. get the kids on their bikes!

For my eldest this is a bit of a drag, she is not a keen cyclist, so I have to push, pull and cajole her off her phone and into the saddle! My youngest however is raring to go and can not wait to find out what adventures the two tunnels around Bath will bring.

We are taking the Sustrans Bath Two Tunnels Circuit a circular route that follows NCN routes 4, 244 & 24.  Approximately 13 miles with about 500ft of climbing. I estimate it will take about 3 to 3.5 hours with a few stops along the way. If you follow the link I have attached it will take you to the Sustrans information and the gpx route which we downloaded as well as a free map you can print out.

My daughter fixing her bike together

My youngest learning how to put her bike together before the ride

Our starting point was at Batheaston we found a car park in the village with easy access across the bridge and cycle way to The George Pub at Bathampton.

This was the easiest starting point from our home base enabling us to get in and out of Bath avoiding the traffic.  I would highly recommend doing the same, that is choose your starting point according to where you come into Bath. As a circular route this is quite easy to do.

There are many ways onto the route including the ones from Bath Spa or Oldfield Park Train Stations so traveling by train is also an option.

Heading straight on to a tow path we are spoilt for the views, but rather than stop this early on the ride for our picnic we decided to get through the City centre first.

 

My family on their bikes with my daughter 'arms' folded

Arms folded…. she is enjoying it really.

Within a few minutes we are peddling our way through the traffic both vehicle and pedestrian!

A bell is a must, otherwise you will be calling out forever to get through. As an instructor I found navigating the town with two children relatively simple but if you are not used to cycling with kids in town then think about how to navigate this section. Walking and pushing your bikes may be far safer than negotiating the busy one way system vying with busses and cars for space whilst spotting the NCN signposts.

If you are confident then just make sure you take a good line. With the children to your left and adults in a ‘shepherding’ position alongside them or behind them.

Once out of town we meander through a combination of leafy bike trails, before hitting the tunnels. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I won’t say too much about them here. Other than they are worth the trip. It is as much fun for the kids as the adults to travel the 1 mile stretch through gradually rising darkness.  Lights though are not absolutely necessary as the tunnels do have low lighting but it is still quite dark and you need to be mindful of where you are pedalling and the oncoming bike and pedestrian traffic if you don’t have them!

Entrance to the first Sustrans Tunnel

Entrance to the first (shorter) tunnel

The tunnels come within about a mile of each other but the adventure doesn’t stop here. Soon after you are pedalling up and down a couple of short but sharp hills (particularly sharp for the kids) along quiet country roads.  We stopped at this point for much needed refreshments at a local pub. It was a peaceful village that looks like it is entirely made up of one school. Indeed you pedal your way around the campus and down to follow the river past their sports fields, cricket grounds and boating club.

Following the route back to the canal is where we got a little lost, navigation on my old ‘steam powered’ garmin was not great at this point.  I simply read the signpost to head to Bath…. We actually took the wrong turning not realising until about half a mile!  You see even experienced cyclists with gadgets get lost. Thankfully, for me, it was on a very flat section.  I can just imagine what my 13 year old would have said if this was along the hilly part of the route.

taking the canal path in Bath

Turning Right and we should have turned Left, lucky it was a beautiful flat canal path….

Now on the homeward straight we flew along the canal for the last few miles. There were some amazing looking boats, all shapes, colours and sizes.  It was easy to keep the kids distracted from the tired legs imagining what it might be like to live amongst the river beds and slowly weave your way from one mooring to the next.  I actually think it was also the promise of Burger and Chips from the pub we set out from just a few hours ago, but let a parent dream.

With the Two Tunnels complete we drove back home in JellyBeane and reflected on the ride with the girls. We cycled about 3 miles further than the route suggested it would be. With an extra mile or two to join the route from the car park and of course our little miss-adventure at the end didn’t help either. Overall we all though we enjoyed it.

The girls are of course used to cycling, but they are neither of them endurance cyclists by any means so we took it gently, carried plenty of food & drink for snack stops and a lunch break as well as planning a cafe/pub stop along the way.

On a good day this route is fantastic for riding with the kids. Be prepared for a day out and not just a few hours ride though.  Oh and watch the navigation; it is easy to take the wrong turn and if you don’t regularly check on the map & your direction of travel you can be miles off course very quickly.

Bath Two Tunnels – Sustrans NCN Routes 4, 24, 244

#Sustrans #TwoTunnels #CycleAdventure #Getoutside

 

Posted previously on Tyres and Trails in  June 2016