Route 51

Route Details

  • From - to: Oxford to Bedford, Huntingdon to Colchester via Felixstowe
  • Distance: 209 miles
  • Access: various train stations along the route
  • Terrain: A mixture of on and off road cycling

Route Description

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 fantastic, historic city of Oxford the route takes you from Balliol College 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 pick up 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 though 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 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. You travel inland, picking up the River Colne near Wivenhoe which takes you into Colchester and Castle Park. Head north from Colchester on National Route 1 to continue following the North Sea Cycle Route/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.

Things to see and do

  • Furzton Lake, Milton Keynes
  • Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
  • Forest of Marston Vale, which covers 61 square miles between Milton Keynes and Bedford. 
  • Holywell Park, Ispwich
  • Harwich Maritime Museum
  • Castle Park, Colchester

Related maps


Please be aware that due to Local Authority restrictions on Sheep Street in Bicester you will be required to dismount your bike and walk the 0.2 mile street. 

Zoom level: 
Buy the map

The official route map for the ride linking the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge.

National Route 51 passes through Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex. The section between Harwich and Colchester forms part of the North Sea Cycle Route, also known as EuroVelo 12.