Until the coming of the railways and cars, the Chilterns were largely rural with country towns situated on the main routes through the hills. The position of these hills, northwest of London, affected the routing of major roads, railways and canals into and out of the capital. Many of these once-busy routes have found new purpose as leisure and tourism experiences, offering heritage railways, canal-boat holidays or cycling and walking routes.
Day Rides From Gateway Towns Set off from a market town with these day rides which range from flat, traffic-free routes for complete beginners to off-road challenges for experienced riders. All routes are graded for ease or difficulty. Some are signposted. Route maps and other information can be downloaded in advance.
Electric Bikes are a wonderful way to enjoy the rolling Chiltern hills without the frantic pedalling! Bikes can be hired from Chilterns Cycle Hire (mobile cycle hire coveirng the central Chilterns area). You can also enjoy guided rides by Electric Bike Tours.
For more fresh air, exercise and marvellous views, take a look at these ready-made walking and cycling tours in the Chilterns or build your own short break or longer holiday around these long distance walking and cycling trails:
The Chilterns Cycleway is a 173-mile circular cycle route which takes in the finest Chiltern landscapes in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The route is mainly on-road and is signposted throughout, with highlights including suberb views, market towns and villages, country pubs and National Trust properties. It lends itself to a leisurely one-week tour or to a choice of three, two-day breaks on the Northern, Central and Southern Loops.
Henley-based brewer and pub operator Brakspear has launched another Country Ale Trail to encourage walkers and cyclists to explore its rural estate which includes some really lovely, off the beaten track pubs. The new route joins the Henley Ale Trail in the town centre and the first Country Ale Trail, introduced last year, bringing the number of Brakspear pubs now included on a trail to an impressive 30.
Popular with the locals, is a disused railway line, that runs between the market towns of Thame and Princes Risborough, passing through the villages of Towersey and Bledlow. The Phoenix Trail is the perfect place to enjoy the Chilterns countryside, including views of the Whiteleaf Cross carved into the hillside above Princes Risborough and a very active Red Kite population, swooping and diving as they hunt for prey. This route is probably best-known as being family friendly, without worrying about four-wheeled traffic, young cyclists can get to grips with the sport and parents can relax! There is a wonderful collection of 30 original sculptures built by Angus Ross and six furniture students from Thame's Rycotewood College, which draw on the trail's railway heritage and the landscape towards the Chiltern Hills, but are subtle and sometimes easy to miss, as they are not all at head-height. Artworks include Winged Shelter by Angus Ross, Three Characters on Poles by Lucy Casson, and Reflective Space by Leigh Robert. There’s lots of parking at either end of the trail which is five miles in either direction. This trail is part of the National Route 57 and an information leaflet can be downloaded here