Berkshire cycle route - Thatcham and Theale

PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 March 2020

Riding a bicycle on a tow path by a canal concept for healthy lifestyle, exercising and vacations (c) BrianAJackson/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Riding a bicycle on a tow path by a canal concept for healthy lifestyle, exercising and vacations (c) BrianAJackson/Getty Images/iStockphoto

BrianAJackson

This spring, Colin Wharton takes you on a scenic cycle ride along the Kennet and Avon Canal

Lock gates on Kennet and Avon Canal at Aldermaston (c) JohnnyWalker61/Getty Images/iStockphotoLock gates on Kennet and Avon Canal at Aldermaston (c) JohnnyWalker61/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Enjoy a short, pleasant cycle ride between the pretty villages of Thatcham and Theale. The ride uses a cycle-friendly length of canal towpath on section four of the Sustrans National Cycle Network route.

This cycle ride can be made in either direction between Thatcham and Theale and can be a linear 10 miles, in which case you would need to take your bike on the train at either Thatcham or Theale, or you could just return the way you came, making the ride 20 miles.

The Kennet and Avon Canal refers to the whole length of a waterway that is made up of sections of both river and canal with the River Avon from Bristol to Bath and the River Kennet from Newbury to Reading, much of it canalised. The waterway was made navigable in the early 18th century and after decline and dereliction in the early 20th century has been restored. It is now a popular destination for boating, leisure and wildlife conservation.

1. (SU 52728 66373) Start the ride from Thatcham Rail Station cycling south across the bridge and taking a left turn next to the River Kennet to join section 4 of the Sustrans Cycle Route signposted to Reading. 
The route is well laid out and you will find yourself crossing a number of locks and interesting waterside features.

Shortly into the ride you will see the remains of Colthrop Mill on the north side of the canal, which was a major site for paper manufacturing in the area but was shut down in the early 1970s. There are ongoing plans for redevelopment here.

2. (SU 55129 66258) Pass under the Brimpton Road and continue until you reach Woolhampton, where you are about a third of the way through the route. You could enjoy a break at The Rowbarge pub, which is next to the swing bridge and was built in the early 18th century.

After The Rowbarge continue cycling along the canal until you reach Aldermaston Wharf, where you will have to cross the road to the north side of the Kennet and Avon Canal to continue following the cycleway, still in the direction of Reading. Aldermaston Wharf is a short distance from Aldermaston village and the village is close to the more widely known Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).

3. (SU 60196 67168) After Aldemaston Wharf cross Padworth Lane at the Froudes Swingbridge and continue along the towpath, crossing to the south bank again at Ufton Bridge. You will see Tyle Mill on the north side of the canal, which was originally built in the early 18th century and is now a private house.

Turn left at Hangar Road and leave the canal, crossing the swing bridge and again across a railway bridge to reach Theale Station and the end of the ride.

DETAILS

Start/finish: Pipers Lane, Thatcham Station, RG19 4PP

Map: OS Explorer 158 (Lambourn & Kintbury) & 159 (Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne)

Distance: 10miles or 16km

Terrain: A short flat cycle ride using the Kennet and Avon Canal

Time: 1 to 2 hours

Refreshments: Eateries and pubs en route between Thatcham and Theale

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