-Accommodation: 3,4 and 5 star hotels, three country pubs, two boutique hotels and a National Trust village inn. Dinner for 2 nights is included.
-Cycling mileage: 12 days of cycling 30 - 38 miles (48 - 61 km) per day.
-Grade out of 5 based on distance and elevation: 4
-Terrain: gently rolling
-Traffic free: 25%; very low traffic on the rest
Starting and finishing in Oxford, The Grand Tour includes the world heritage sights of Stonehenge, Bath and Blenheim Palace, the iconic River Thames, the well loved towns of Stratford and Salisbury and the stunning hills and villages of the Cotswolds and Chilterns..
From the historic university city of Oxford see Chipping Campden, Bibury, and Tetbury as you ride through the Cotswold 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. Take in the outstanding cathedral in Salisbury, the soaring downs of middle England, the Thames with its pretty waterside villages and the undersung Chiltern Hills with their beech woods. The Grand Tour is our longest tour and embraces everything that is England.
Day 1: Oxford.
Arrive in Oxford on Sunday and check into your hotel located adjacent to the heart of the city. At a time to suit you make your way to our base in the centre of Oxford, which is open from 10.00 to 16.00 to pick up your cycling equipment. Your host will meet you, organise your bicycle and run through your itinerary. Enjoy the treasures of this beautiful city - on foot or by following our traffic free cycle directions for an insiders guide to Oxford. 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
Day 2: Oxford to an Oxfordshire village.
33 miles (53 km). Your cycling journey leaves 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 11th 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 to 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 cosy pubs for a lunch stop and the renowned gardens of Hidcote and Kiftsgate for inspiration. From here its 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
Day 4: Stratford on Avon to 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
Day 5: Chipping Campden to 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
Day 6: Burford to Ewen.
36 miles (58 km). Pedal through a timelesss 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.
Day 7: Ewen to 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 atWestonbirt. 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
Day 8: Lacock to Bath and back
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 Roiman baths, a fine collection of museums, cobbled courtyards, historic tea rooms and the abbey. Leave Bath along a magnificant canal and take in yet another charcetrful town at Bradford on Avon. Here there is a short climb as you head back to Lacock Truly a day to remember!
Day 9: Lacock to a Wiltshire village
38 miles (61 km). Today's 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 where you will stay for the next two nights.
Day 10: A Wiltshire village to Salisbury and back.
20 miles (32 km). This morning your personal guide will collect you from your accommodation and give you a tour of the world heritage sight at Stonehenge. A prehistoric monument without parallel, its site and surroundings pose a number of questions. Returning to the present day and to your hotel, you have a delightful ride south to the historic city of Salisbury with its fine cathedral and setting. Track the Avon as it threads its way through the town and discover ancient buildings before returning to your hotel for a second night. This truly is a day full of drama!
Day 11: A Wiltshire village to Hungerford.
28 miles (45 km). Challenge yourself today with a ride up onto Salisbury Plain where there are grand landscapes and far reaching views - a unique scene for this one day's cycling. Hungerford where you will stay the night is an interesting market town that sits within the cosy Kennet valley which provides your route beyond the plain. Dotted with charming villages, the valley is criss crossed by the picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal.
Day 12: Hungerford to a Chilterns village.
34 miles (54 km). Following the pretty canal as it flows towards the Thames River, weirs, locks, waterside cottages and meadows abound. This rural scene briefly gives way to the urban as the waterway flows through the heart of Reading and meets the bolder Thames just beyond. Here you ride beside the river before heading up into the beautiful Chiltern Hills. Characterised by beech woods, soaring slopes and red kites this is an idyllic area. Your overnight stay is in an old inn nestling in a woodland village.
Day 13: A Chilterns village to Oxford.
29 miles (46 km). The final day's ride into Oxford is a classic as you freewheel down through the Chilterns with soaring views. Traversing the Thames a number of times, there's time to enjoy several of its riverside towns - characterful Wallingford and ancient Abingdon, before pedalling past locks and boat houses to complete the ring back to Oxford and your final night's stay in the heart of the city. What a grand tour of England!
Day 14: Depart Oxford.
Return your bikes to our base and depart at leisure.
Minimum cost is for Classic version. Maximum cost is for Luxury version.
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