Route for a bike ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal and Thames Path
PUBLISHED: 09:49 09 July 2019
Celebrating Bike Week this June, Colin Wharton brings you a cycle ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal and the Thames Path
This cycle ride is a chance to explore some of the waterway paths close to Reading, the county town of Berkshire, from the Thames to a section of the Kennet & Avon Canal. It's mainly off-road, with some parks and a few small sections of road.
From Reading Railway Station, head towards Trooper Potts Way to the north of the station, which is also next to the station car parks. Cross the A329 using the cycle sign (signed Hills Meadow Car Park and Caversham) and cycle through Norman Place till the end, where you will see a narrow path that leads to the River Thames and National Cycle Route 5. This is where this cycle route starts.
- Start/finish: Station Approach, Reading, RG1 1LZ
- Map: OS Explorer 159, Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne
- Distance: 15 miles or 24km
- Time: 1-2 hours
- Terrain: A short cycle ride using a combination of the Thames Path and Kennet & Avon Canal paths and it's a mainly flat route
- Refreshments: Eateries and pubs in Reading
1 (SU 71622 74148) At the Thames Path follow the river east with the river on your left and continue until you reach a footbridge.
2 (SU 73057 73818) You leave the Thames Path at this point and need to cross to the south bank of the River Kennet. Now follow the river with the water on your right, past the large gastro Fisherman's Cottage Pub.
The Kennet & Avon Canal consists of two sections of navigable river linked together by a canal; the name commonly refers to the whole section. The waterway follows the River Avon before a canal links to the River Kennet at Newbury, before heading to the Thames at Reading.
After a short time you have to leave the river close to Star Lane. Cycle through Star Lane following the marked cycle signs and turn left onto London Street and then immediately right up Yield Hall Place.
Now follow the river again with the Vue Cinema on your left and the river on your right. You are now in the heart of Reading and the developed river front with restaurants, close to The Oracle shopping centre.
3 At Bridge Street you need to turn right, cross the bridge and turn left at Fobney Street, then turn sharp left down a little cycle lane that will take you back to the river again. Follow the cycle lane with the river on your left.
4 (SU 71345 72860) When you come to Fobney Pumping Station the cycle path crosses the lock and continues the other side of the river. The lock was built in the 18th century and the next stretch of the river is known as the Kennet Navigation. The adjacent island is a wetlands nature reserve.
Follow the path with the river on your right. You will go across another lock and pass Southcote Mill, which supplied bar iron from Sowley Forge in Hampshire. The mill closed in the 19th century and is now residential.
Stay on the south side of the river until you reach Mill Road and continue south along it till you reach Moatlands Cottages.
5 From Moatlands Cottages, turn right and follow the cycle lane with a lake on your right and continue northwards, cross the River Kennet again over a wooden bridge and follow an uneven path across a field. At the end of the field, cross the railway using the level crossing (take extreme care over the crossing and follow the signs).
Cross the water meadows that form part of Holybrook, an area named after Holy Brook − a watercourse that is a corollary of the River Kennet. You eventually reach a bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the path with the brook on your right side until you reach a small lane (Mill Lane).
6 Follow Mill Lane north until you reach a junction, turn right, still on Mill Lane, and follow it until you get to a small roundabout. Turn right at Carters Rise and follow it turning left at another small roundabout into Calcot Place Drive, following it past Kennet Valley Pre School and then turn immediately right along an unnamed road using the cycle ways provided whenever possible.
Turn left at Underwood Road and then left again at Holmwood Avenue, following the A4 Reading cycle sign. This section of the cycle ride is slightly uphill. At the end of Holmwood Avenue, you will see a small gap leading to a cycle path still directing you to the A4 Reading. The cycle path leads north past a large store on your left. When you reach the Bath Road, turn right and follow the cycleway crossing at Burghfield Road.
7 Turn right at Granville Road and follow the road with a small green to your left and residential buildings to your right. Turn left at the end of Granville Road, following the cycle path along Circuit Lane until you get to a small roundabout. Turn right at the roundabout and follow the Bath Road again until you reach the entrance to Prospect Park.
The park was originally the site of Dirle's Farm and part of the Calcot Park Estate. It was made into a public park in 1902 after being bought by the Reading Corporation. Follow the cycle lane north, diagonally across Prospect Park.
8 At the end of Prospect Park, cross the roundabout and turn left down Waverley Road and then right at Grovelands Road. Follow this road to the end and turn left along the A329, the Oxford Road. Cross at the lights opposite a petrol station just before a large roundabout and follow the cycle path until you reach Wigmore Lane. Cross the pelican crossing and follow the cycle path until you reach Scours Lane. At Scours Lane, turn right and follow this until you get to a railway bridge. Go under the railway bridge and follow the fork of the lane past a caravan park on your left.
9 At the end of Scours Lane you come to the Thames. Now turn right and follow the river east past St Mary's Island and the Thames Side Promenade. Eventually you will reach a cycle path on your right; the one you came down originally to the Thames from the station. Follow this and it will take
you back to the station and the end of the cycle ride.
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