There are a few different options today; we have prepared a long and a short cycle route. The long route will take you into Stratford-upon-Avon to discover the home of William Shakespeare. If you prefer the short ride, you can take a bus to visit Stratford-upon-Avon in the afternoon. Alternatively, you can take a rest day today to relax in Broadway – there are worse places to spend a day sampling the shops, cafes and local walks!
Today starts with a tough climb out of Willersey that seems to get ever-steeper as you near the top, but once there you can expect gorgeous views on your left. You are right on the northern-most edge of the Cotswolds here, and after a few days where the horizon has always been blocked by the next row of hills, it suddenly feels like you can see forever as you gaze out from a lofty vantage point across the flat agricultural plains of Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
As you near Stratford-upon-Avon you leave the Cotswolds behind; the cycling becomes flatter, the architecturally-magnificent grand Manor Houses less frequent, and the vine-covered, honey-coloured cottages disappear altogether, but there are new delights to be found; row-boats and narrow-boats drift along the River Avon, the Tudor House-lined streets of Stratford are bustling and energetic, and there are many Shakespeare-themed delights to discover.
Once all 'Shakespeared out', you can begin pedalling back to Broadway; it's a gentle start on a dedicated bridleway that was previously a railway. It soon becomes hillier and the charming villages come flooding back, and you'll know you're back in the Cotswolds.
This route take place mostly on rural roads. Drivers are generally used to seeing cyclists so are courteous, passing slowly and giving plenty of room. Be sure that your cycling is predictable with no erratic motions, and whenever you are changing roads, communicate that with hand signals.
There are some testing uphills and thrilling descents today, where it is tempting to let loose of the brakes and fly down; on these country roads however, it is important to cycle expecting the unexpected and adjust your speed appropriately, so whether there is a pothole or an escaping sheep you have enough time to slow down.
There are a few sections on busier roads but these are always fairly short. Before turning onto a busy road, it is advisable to consult the map and read the turn-by-turn directions, so you know where you are turning off and don’t have to stop on the edge to check.
Today the route crosses railway tracks. When crossing it is important you slow down and ride perpendicular (at right angles) to the railway tracks so there is no risk of your wheel slipping down a hole. If you don’t feel confident, don’t worry about getting off and walking over.
Tips and hints
Points of Interest
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
This 500-year old cottage is where William Shakespeare courted Anne Hathaway, his bride-to-be. The history of this thatched Wattle and Daub (black and white) Tudor cottage has been retained with the original furniture of the time still in place. You can also explore the 9 acres of romantic gardens that envelop the property.
More information available here: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/anne-hathaways-cottage/
This is the house where Shakespeare was born and grew up, including the first 5 years of his marriage with Anne Hathaway. Today the house appears plain and fairly unimpressive but in the 16th century it would have been considered a splendid property; indeed, it is the largest house on Henley Street. Today it is a museum and has been restored to how it might have looked.
More information available here: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/shakespeares-birthplace/
You will pedal out of Stratford on ‘The Greenway’ which is a dedicated bridlepath shared by cyclists, horse riders and walkers. But this flat route was originally a railway; built in 1859 by the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, this was Stratford’s link to the south-west. The cycle route still uses some of the railway infrastructure such as bridges across the River Avon, and some of the old train carriages have been converted into cafes.
More information available here: http://countryparks.warwickshire.gov.uk/2012/02/09/cycling/
Food and Drink
You will find a pub where you can eat and drink in most of the villages that you pass through today, but perhaps the best place to stop for lunch is in Stratford-upon-Avon as you will probably arrive around midday, and there is a wide selection available.
Alternatively, there is also a great pub with lots of history and character in Bretforton which has won the Country Pub of the Year in 2016.
All normal cycle equipment and outdoor gear is required, including a helmet, gloves and a wind-break layer. Even if it doesn’t appear necessary ensure you bring enough warm and waterproof clothes as weather conditions can change quickly.
Padded shorts are recommended, as saddle pain takes the fun away very quickly!
This route is mostly on rural roads so be sure to bring a bottle of water and a snack in case you find yourself a long way from the shops.