Route 5 is a fantastic long-distance route for cycle tourers or bikepackers looking to challenge themselves and experience both the beautiful British countryside and some of its historic towns and cities.
Route 5 begins in Reading and follows the northern half of the Thames Valley cycle route as it crosses the Chiltern Hills and passes through Wallingford, Didcot and Abingdon on the way to Oxford.
Leave time to explore Oxford and admire its elegant buildings. The poet Matthew Arnold called Oxford the "City of Dreaming Spires", an apt term for this beautiful city. Oxford is known for being the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world.
After leaving Oxford you head towards Burntwood. Here, Route 5 forms much of the West Midlands cycle route. Traffic-free sections include the Stratford Greenway between Long Marston and Stratford-upon-Avon and the Rea Valley Route in Birmingham.
Stratford-upon-Avon is well-known for being the birthplace of Shakespeare. It’s a market town with a rich history and many old buildings. It makes for a pleasant stopping off point.
Route 5 is still proposed between Burntwood and Weeping Cross (east of Stafford). For more details check the Staffordshire routes page and the Sustrans online mapping.
From Stafford to Kidsgrove, Route 5 is comprised of traffic-free and shorter on-road sections to Barlaston. From here it follows greenways through the centre of Stoke-on-Trent on canal towpaths and disused railways.
If you have time, stop and explore Stoke-on-Trent. It’s famous for its pottery industry and you can learn about its ceramic-making history at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.
After leaving Stoke-on-Trent you head towards Chester. This delightful town is a must-see. Chester has the most complete city walls, the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1,000-year-old Cathedral.
Chester is known for 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.
From Chester to Bagillt you follow a traffic-free route out of England into Wales. Currently, there are some on-road sections between Flint and Prestatyn via Gorsedd and Gronant. However, a traffic-free coastal route is proposed.
Once you reach Prestatyn you can follow a mainly traffic-free sea-front route to Abergele. This section of Route 5 takes in a number of classic north Wales seaside towns. The section from Abergele to Llanfairfechan has several traffic-free sections. The coastal traffic-free route passing through Colwyn Bay and Rhos-on-Sea continues to Conwy via an on-road section before returning to the traffic-free sea-front route. A longer, predominantly traffic-free spur goes to Conwy via Llandudno.
The final leg of Route 5 is predominantly on-road along the coast to Bangor and then on-road across Anglesey to Holyhead. Holyhead is the largest town on the island of Anglesey and also a busy port with connections to Ireland.
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.