Route 45 travels in sections from Chester to Salisbury, taking in two of England’s most picturesque and historical cities.
Salisbury is known for its cathedral, which has the tallest spire in Britain, rising 55 metres above the tower. The cathedral also houses four of the original Magna Carta manuscripts, dating from 1215AD. With its timbered buildings and historic houses Salisbury is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon wandering around.
Through Wiltshire, Route 45 links Swindon to Salisbury via the World Heritage site at Avebury where you will find some of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Avebury henge and stone circles were built during the Neolithic period, roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC. At Avebury you’ll find the largest stone circle in Britain which also encloses two smaller stone circles.
Route 45 crosses the North Wessex Downs and Salisbury Plain. This stretch of countryside feels quintessentially English and is a joy to cycle though.
North of Swindon, Route 45 traverses the Cotswold Water Park, an area of 40 square miles between Swindon and Cirencester with 150 lakes and a wide variety of leisure activities. Then you swing across the high plateau of the Cotswold Hills to the ancient Roman town of Cirencester.
After this you travel down the escarpment to Nailsworth and via traffic-free railway paths and canal towpaths to Stroud and Eastington before joining Route 41 at Saul on the Sharpness Canal.
The section of Route 45 between Worcester and Droitwich is very popular and follows some quiet lanes and the towpath of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to link Worcester and Droitwich on the eastern side. This section is only 10 miles and flat, making it perfect for less experienced cyclists. For the return journey Route 46 provides an on-road alternative to the western side, leaving Worcester at the racecourse and following a similar line to the Droitwich Canal.
After Droitwich the route continues on to Stourport-on-Severn, Bridgnorth, Whitchurch and then Chester. As well as having the most complete city walls in Britain, Chester also has the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre. However, what Chester is really famous for is the Rows, continuous half-timbered galleries, reached by steps, which form a second row of shops above those at street level. The Rows are unique to Chester, and nobody is quite sure why they were built in this way. They’re a special sight and one we highly recommend taking the time to visit.
Please note that a section of this route in Swindon that links with Purton Road and runs alongside Shaw Forest Park is closed until August 2024 due to vital works by Thames Water.
Please see the Swindon Travel Choices website for a diversion and further information.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness.
However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes.
Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces.
Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.