Jenny Hayes highlights some of the best low-budget activities to try in and around the city that will not break the bank, but will keep the kids happy


Pedal power went a long way toward securing our title as European Green Capital 2015, because Bristol is well-known as a city that loves to cycle. I have to admit, though, it is precisely that which makes me a little hesitant about getting on my own bike. As I walk to work, the roads seem to be lined with proficient cyclists who swerve with elegance and ease through the dense city traffic, whereas I worry I’d wobble off into a bus. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels daunted at the prospect of getting on their bike, so I caught up with Alec James from Bristol transport charity Sustrans to find out some good beginner routes, as well as a few for those who live life in the fast lane.

Why is Bristol such a great cycling city?

Despite being a bit hilly, Bristol is brilliant for cyclists. There are lots of great traffic free routes throughout the city centre, and out to the surrounding countryside. And with traffic speeds averaging 11mph at rush hour, cycling is a much quicker, easier way to get about.

What’s a good route for families/beginners?

There’s lots of great family friendly rides around Bristol. For families with younger children a ride along the Festival Way (National Cycle Network route 33) and up to Ashton Court for an ice cream and look at the Red Deer makes for a great ride. The route is almost entirely traffic free with safe crossings of any roads and is (mostly!) flat.

And one for people looking for a challenge? Why not try the Chew Valley Lake?

This is a circular route that starts from Queen Square in Bristol and takes in the traffic free National Cycle Network, country lanes and some busier roads. The ride is 27 miles and is quite hilly but explores some beautiful countryside south of Bristol and rewards you with tea, cake and rest at Chew Valley Lake. We’d recommend taking a minute to spot some of the 4,000 ducks that live in the lake before heading back to Bristol!

If you’d prefer a less hilly route, the Bristol to Bath path is a must ride. The path is a 13 mile traffic free and mostly flat ride that leads all the way from St Phillips Road in Bristol to the centre of Bath. It was the first route on the National Cycle Network and is the most popular in the UK. There’s great tea and cake at Bitton and Mangotsfield, lots of beautiful countryside and very little traffic to overcome.

To celebrate 20 years of the National Cycle Network, join Sustrans at Fair in the Square, in Queen Square, on Saturday 22 August from 12pm – 8pm. There will be pedal powered entertainment, led walks and rides, live music, bike check-ups, food stalls and more.

For details, and local cycle route maps, visit: