Route 51 is a long-distance route that connects major cities in the south of England. It links Milton Keynes, Bedford, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich on its way and also links the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge with the coast at Felixstowe before continuing to Harwich and Colchester.
Starting in the historic city of Oxford the route takes you from Balliol College, one of Oxford's oldest colleges, founded around 1263, and out north along the Oxford Road. Passing Bletchingdon and Wendlebury the route takes you through the centre of Bicester.
Continuing on roads, the route travels through Twyford and Winslow before arriving in Milton Keynes. The route passes Furzton Lake, which has a large population of geese and other waterfowl, before taking you through Campbell Park and skirting Willen Lake. The route travels through Ouzel Valley Park and then heads towards the town of Bedford.
Just after Bedford at Great Barford you follow Route 12 for a short time until Huntingdon, travelling past Grafham Water, which offers watersport activities including windsurfing and dinghy sailing.
Leaving Huntingdon the route wends its way to Cambridge, heading through the town and out to Bottisham and Newmarket. The route continues onto Bury St Edmunds and takes you through the town centre. You then travel onto Stowmarket and Ipswich, where you follow the River Orwell in places and travel alongside Neptune Marina.
Travelling through the fantastic Holywells Parkland and Landseer Park, the route takes you on the Ipswich Road and onwards to Felixstowe.
Once in Felixstowe the route takes you along the waterfront and to Harwich Harbour where you can catch a foot ferry to Harwich. After crossing the harbour you travel past Harwich Maritime Museum and along marine parade in Harwich.
Next, you travel inland, following the River Colne near Wivenhoe which takes you into Colchester and Castle Park. From here you can choose to head north from Colchester on Route 1 if you want to continue following the North Sea Cycle Route (also known as EuroVelo 12) to the Shetland Islands.
There is also a short spur of Route 51 open between Jaywick and Frinton-on-Sea through Clacton-on-Sea on the seafront.
This interesting 211-mile cycling adventure takes you through some of southern England’s nicest towns and cities. On the way you have the opportunity to enjoy some of the UK’s wonderful cultural and natural heritage, including Furzton Lake, Willen Lake, the Forest of Marston Vale, Holywell Park, Harwich Maritime Museum and Castle Park in Colchester.
Due to works by East West Rail, sections of Route 51 between Milton Keynes and Winslow will be subject to closures until late 2022.
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.