Here are some of the routes that Isis Cyclists have covered in recent years. We’re offering them so that people can continue go for bike rides during the current coronavirus outbreak. However, please note Cycling UK’s message that you should go for a ride alone or with members of your household unless any of them have reason to self-isolate. Under no circumstance should you cycle or take part in any cycling activity in groups.
Before you go out, check Cycling UK’s Q&A on safe cycling during the coronavirus outbreak for their current advice, which is in accordance with the Government’s guidelines.
For each route we provide a synopsis and a link to the website (e.g. Mapometer or Ride with GPS) on which you can view the route itself and download the GPS file (possibly also a cue sheet). The routes are publicly available; you don’t need to sign up to the site. For a guide to classifications, visit the About Us page.
The list is organised into five sectors, bounded by the Oxford ring road and four of the major roads radiating from it, as shown in the schematic map on the right. Most routes go through two or more sectors, so we have categorised them according to the sector in which the destination is located (usually the refreshment stop in normal times).
Enjoy – but do take extra care to avoid mishaps, even with fewer vehicles around. We don’t want to add to the existing pressure on hospitals and the other emergency services.
If you don’t see a route that takes your fancy, return to the Home page, where you can browse all of our rides dating back to January 2017. Many of them include links to the actual routes.
- Oxford City: inside the ring road
- North-east: A44 northbound to A40/M40 eastbound
- South-east: A40/M40 eastbound to A34 southbound
- South-west: A34 southbound to A40 westbound
- North-west: A40 westbound to A44 northbound
An Oxford circular and river towpath (Short)
This 8.5-mile route starts in Marston and heads south crossing the Cowley and Iffley Rds to pick up Meadow Lane to Donnington Bridge. A mile of river towpath brings us to Folly bridge which we cross and head up St Aldates, past Christchurch College. We then turn down Pembroke St and up St Ebbs to reach Bonn Square and George St (via New Inn Hall St). We are now heading west towards Jericho where we will turn north up Walton St, have a short detour round the streets near the canal before picking up Kingston Rd, Frenchay Rd, crossing both Woodstock and Banbury Roads and picking up the Marston Ferry cycle track by Cherwell School. Then back to New Marston via the Recreation Ground and the Purcell Road cycle track. If you want to pause, I suggest the recreation ground off Meadow Lane or the New Marston Recreation Ground. Both have plenty of space. The route can be ridden starting anywhere and backwards and forward. (Ellen)
Oxford Circular Route: Cutteslowe, Wolvercote, the Oxford Canal into central Oxford (Short)
This 10-mile route takes us through the quiet roads of North Oxford to Cutteslowe and Sunnymead. We then ride to Wolvercote, picking up the newly resurfaced canal towpath at Bell Bridge on Wolvercote Green. We will follow the canal as far as Walton Well Street before heading through central Oxford to Broad Street. We will return to the start via Magdalen Bridge, St Clements and the University Parks cycle track. Potential places to stop are Wolvercote Green or Parsons Pleasure (off the University Parks cycle track). The route can be ridden starting anywhere and backwards and forward. (Ellen)
Oxford circular route: Marston to East Oxford, Temple Cowley returning through Headington (Short)
This 10.4-mile route starts on the Marston Road and heads for the Cowley Rd to pick up the Barracks Lane track. From there it heads to Marsh Rd and up Temple Rd, crossing Hollow Way and reaching the ring road cycle track at Fernhill Rd. After a short section on the ring rd cycle track we head down Horsepath Rd, Hollow Way and The Slade (making use of the new “access to Headington paths”. We will then cut through to Old Road pass Rock Edge Nature Reserve and Headington Quarry to arrive at Green Rd roundabout. From there it is paths and quiet roads through Old Headington to Northway, Old Marston and back to the start on the Marston Rd. Sensible places to stop for carried refreshments are Barracks Lane meadows or Peasmoor Piece (between Northway & Old Marston) or Boults Lane Recreation Ground in Old Marston. The route can be ridden starting anywhere and backwards and forward. (Ellen)
Figure of eight: Marston to West Oxford and North Hinksey, Wytham and Wolvercote returning to central Oxford and Marston using the canal towpath (Medium)
A 13.2-mile route starting from the Up in Arms PH at the corner of Ferry Rd and Marston Rd. This route starts off heading for Jericho via the University Parks cycle track and North Oxford before cutting across to the Botley Rd via Roger Dudman Way where you can admire the green walls on the infamous University student flats. In dry weather we could cut across Port Meadow and Fiddlers Island to the Botley Rd instead. We then head over Osney Island, Oatlands Rd Recreation Ground (flooding permitting!) and Willow Walk. Then we will ride through North Hinksey and over the Botley Interchange (on cycle track) to pick up the back road to Wytham and Wolvercote. We will join the canal at Wolvercote Green and ride into town. The return to the start will be via The Plain, St Clements and the Marston Rd. Good places to stop for refreshment are Oatlands Rd Recreation Ground, Wolvercote Green, Recreation Ground at Aristotle Lane. As this is a figure of 8 route it is very flexible. Either loop can be ridden separately or the whole route ridden starting anywhere and forward or backwards. (Ellen)
A loop west and south around Oxford (Medium)
This is a slightly longer ride than the preceding ones, which goes through the pretty village of Wytham. The original ride started in Summertown but you can start the ride in town and follow the usual way up to Wolvercote; from Wolvercote you cycle through the beautiful village of Wytham. We will then come down towards Botley, follow the quiet back lane of OsneyMead and St. Ebbes to end up in the Abingdon Road; to complete the loop you can return crossing the Donnington Bridge and follow the river and canal back through Jericho to the starting point. This 13-mile flat route suitable for all riders and bikes. (Leonor)
Ring Road Faster Blast Route: a circumnavigation of Oxford sticking to or close to the Ring Road (Medium)
This 16.2-mile route will be good if you want to ride a bit faster and more continuously. It sticks to the Ring Rd cycle track except between Wolvercote and through Wytham and North Hinksey where there is no cycle track. It might not sound so pleasant, but at least the ring road will be quieter than we are used to and you can get a decent speed up. My route starts where Elsfield Rd in Old Marston meets the Ring Rd cycle track and works ok in both directions (I think!). I’ve included lots of places you can join. Because of its nature, there isn’t that much opportunity to stop and admire the view, however the car park by the river in Lower Wolvercote is a possibility, or the churchyard or The Fishes in N. Hinksey. (Ellen)
Following the river (Medium)
This is a gentle 13-mile ride when you feel like following the water down to Sandford-on-Thames. It starts in Summertown, but you can adapt it to your starting point.
There are bits of rough surface that can be easily done with a hybrid bike. The river tends to be where everyone goes when it is a nice sunny day so try to avoid times when it may be a bit crowded. (Leonor)
A bit of countryside from north Oxford (short)
This gentle 8.5-mile ride takes you through fields from Summertown to Kirtlington via Water Eaton. (Leonor)
Circular route into the countryside: views over Otmoor (Medium)
This 11.2-mile route starts and finishes at The Up in Arms PH on the Marston Road and starts by climbing steadily to Headington using Jack Straws Lane and Staunton Rd. Once there we head into Old Headington and then the Green Rd Roundabout. We use the underpass to cross the ring road and head down Bayswater Rd towards Stanton St John and the B4027. We’ll only need to ride down the B-road for a short distance before we will turn down Horton Rd and ride into Beckley, hopefully enjoying wide open views of Otmoor as we go. After riding up through the village we will return to the B4027 briefly via Common Rd and views of the Otmoor Nature Reserve. We then cross the B4027 and return to Marston via Elsfield, hopefully enjoying a good whoosh down Elsfield Hill on the way. The route can be ridden starting anywhere and backwards and forward. Also, the routes in and out of Oxford can be used as a springboard for more exploration further north and east. (Ellen)
Circumnavigating Otmoor (Long)
The ride will take you through Woodeaton, Islip, Oddington, Charlton-on-Otmoor, Murcott, Horton-cum-Studley and Stanton St. John. The original ride started in Summertown but you can start the ride in town and follow the usual way up to the ring road. You can return either through Barton or Elsfield. The ride is over 20 miles (depending on where you start and finish) with just a couple of hills. (Leonor)
Up and Down the Cherwell Valley (Long)
This 33-mile route takes riders up the western bank of the Cherwell Valley as far as North Aston and returns down the eastern bank. It starts by making rapid progress to Woodstock using the A44 cycle track. If you prefer, you can cut some of this off by picking up the canal towpath in Wolvercote and emerging several miles up the A44 at Yarnton. Otherwise, the scenic stuff really gets going at Woodstock where the route picks up Sustrans NCN Route 5 north through woodland to pick up a pleasant green lane northwards. Back on road and once you have crossed the A4260 (Banbury Road) you will enjoy a descent on a minor road along the edge of Tackley Wood, a great place for bluebells in the late spring. We meet the River Cherwell near Rousham and climb sharply to Steeple Aston. Turn right at the shop and if you pedal hard downhill and you might make it to the top of the following uphill! Ride through Middle Aston to North Aston enjoying views of the river and canal down and to your right. Turn right in North Aston and descend into the valley to cross both canal and river to arrive at Somerton on the east bank. The route now turns south along an undulating road through the village and on to Upper Heyford. Back when I started riding around here you used to have to stop and put your fingers in your ears every time a F16 jet from the nearby US airbase shot low over the road. Happily these days you will probably only hear skylarks! Once you’ve climbed away from the village, there is a long, straight and gradual descent to Kirtlington and then the familiar territory of Bletchingdon, Hampton Poyle and Kidlington that is approached via the meadows. Originally this route was designed for coffee in Woodstock and lunch at The Yurt at Nicholsons in North Aston. However, there are plenty of places to stop for coffee al fresco on the track out of Woodstock or on the green lane, the upper section of which has wide grassy verges. You could picnic on the large village green at North Aston. (Ellen)
Liz M. adds: The cycle track from Woodstock to the crossing at the B4027 can be muddy when wet, so you may wish to take this detour: in Woodstock, continue along Hensington Road (instead of turning left into Green Lane), then fork left (still Hensington Road) and leave town. When you reach the B4027, turn left and you’ll eventually come to the crossing with the cycle track, whereupon you turn right.
Stratton Audley Christmas Barn (Long)
This 43-mile ride was the final warm-up for the 2019 50-mile challenge and takes you north-east. It stopped at Stratton Audley Barn for lunch, but you’ll need to take a picnic to eat en route instead. The anti-clockwise route starts in Radcliffe Square, at the back of the University Church. Leave Oxford through Marston and ride out via Otmoor and Marsh Gibbon, well to the east of Bicester. The return route swings north to Fringford, south-west to Middleton Cheney, then due south back to Oxford via Weston-on-the-Green and Bletchingdon. You re-enter Oxford through the back of Summertown.
In terms of terrain, there are a couple of short hills at 5 and 35 miles, and some gentle undulations after Stratton Audley. (Liz M.)
A (hopefully) Sunny Ride to Sunnyhill (Medium)
This route starts from the North Lodge of the University Parks (corner of St Cross Rd and South Parks Rd). It takes tracks and minor roads through Marston, East Oxford and Cowley, before crossing the Ring Road using an underpass at the end of Long Lane. The route now takes riders through Minchery Farm and past the Kassam Stadium before riding beside Fry’s Hill Park and through Gillian’s Park in Greater Leys. Soon the route emerges on Grenoble road and then takes the B480 for a mile or so before turning for the pretty village of Garsington. This involves a long but steady climb and you will be rewarded with wide open views over S. Oxfordshire towards the Chiltern Hills. A left turn then takes you rapidly downhill and past Sunnyhill Vineyard to Horspath and thence to the eastern ring road. The route finishes at the bottom of Barracks Lane on Bartlemas Close and is just over 13 miles long. (Ellen)
Pumping your heart (Medium)
Here is one for when you want to test your stamina going up hills; it’s a 15-mile route that starts from Summertown and goes south-east through Headington and out to Littleworth (on the edge of Wheatlety), but you can adapt it to your starting point.
There are bits of rough surface that can be easily done with a hybrid bike. A few twists around Headington Quarry that I felt like exploring. (Leonor)
“Great” and “Little” Villages SE of Oxford (Long)
Your ride starts at The Plain, on the corner of Cowley Place and Iffley Road (by the cycle racks in front of the Magdalen College School sign). Head out down the Cowley Road to the Barracks Lane cycle path, crossing the ring road next to the Mini Plant. Continue through Horspath and up the hill to Cuddesdon, before undertaking your tour of the Miltons and Haseleys: the Littles first, then the Greats. Heading back, swing north at Wheatley, passing under the A40, for tea at Waterperry Gardens, then wiggle through Holton and cycle briefly alongside the A40 to Forest Hill before dropping down through Beckley and Elsfield to Marston.
The route is 26.7 miles long to the exit from University Parks by Linacre College. The terrain is mainly undulating with one substantial hill through Horspath. There is also a very short stretch of unsurfaced track at the top of Gidley Way past the Wheatley Windmill; this can be walked.
The route is a variation of one covered in May 2019, which made a detour to Waterperry for tea. Hopefully, you can re-incorporate the detour before too long! (Liz M.; variation designed by Ellen)
A Good Long Ride to Wallingford (Long)
Here is a good long ride, ideal for a nice day in late spring or summer. It starts and ends in Radcliffe Square and takes riders out and along the Ring Rd cycle track to the B480 via Barracks Lane and Temple Cowley. It then follows the B480 through Chiselhampton to Stadhampton. A short section on the A429 (never a busy road) takes you to the turn to Drayton St Leonard and to quiet country roads all the way to Dorchester on Thames whose Abbey and Abbey Gardens are well worth a visit. We leave Dorchester over the long bridge over the River Thames and its flood meadows. After a short section on cycle track adjacent to the A4074 you can turn off to cross the River Thames at Shillingford Bridge and then enter Wallingford. You will pass the entrance to the Castle Meadows on your left which is a good place to have a wander and eat a picnic. In Wallingford the route heads back over the River Thames and into Crowmarsh Gifford. Turn to ride through Howberry Park, home to the EA and some high tech businesses. The route then passes through Preston Crowmarsh. Another great place for a picnic is Benson Lock which you can walk to using a footpath off the road to your left in Preston Crowmarsh. We then continue through Benson, Rokemarsh, Berrick Salome and Chalgrove before heading to Little Milton, Cuddesdon and Horspath. We return to central Oxford using Barracks Lane and the Cowley Rd. The route is 36.4 miles long. It is undulating rather than hilly, but watch out for Cuddesdon Hill towards the end! (Ellen)
A Trip to Jarn Mound (Medium)
This route starts from Costa Coffee on Banbury Rd in Summertown and heads south through Walton Manor and Jericho before picking up canal and then river towpath all the way to Iffley. From there, it climbs up Tree Lane and continues through Rose Hill, under the Ring Rd, through Littlemore and onto Sandford on Thames. It crosses the river again at Sandford Lock. On the outskirts of Radley, it turns up Sugworth Lane besides Bagley Wood, a great place to stop and admire bluebells in the spring. It then continues to Bayworth where there is a steep wooded climb, often referred to by us as the “Cote de Bayworth”! It’s then only a short way to Boars Hill and the famous “Dreaming Spires” view. Jarn Mound is half a mile or so further on. It was created by the archaeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, and in addition to the mound (which you can climb to admire the view) the surrounding paths and tracks contain many interesting (though not real) archaeology. The route returns to Oxford directly down Hinksey Hill and finishes by the river at the end of Marlborough Rd. If you follow the entire route, you will have ridden 17.6 miles. (Ellen)
Oxford to Abingdon Circular (Medium)
This 18.7-mile medium circuit begins at Oxford station and takes you south-west to Cumnor, then south-east to Besselseigh (take care crossing the A420!), Dry Sandford, Cothill and Abingdon, where you can have a rest and refreshment by the river across the bridge (not shown on route). The return takes you along the cycle path through Abingdon meadow, parallel to Barton Lane and past Thrupp lakes to Radley; however, if it’s muddy go along Audlett Drive instead and rejoin the route by the exit from Thrupp Lane. From Radley, continue to Kennington and up the south Oxford cycle route to Folly Bridge. If you don’t fancy Cumnor Hill, simply ride the route in reverse! (Liz M.)
Chill Out on Charney Bassett Village Green (Long)
This route was used for the 35-mile warm-up ride to the 50-mile challenge in 2014. You can reduce the distance by taking any of the turnings to Charney Bassett once you’re south of Southmoor. It leaves Oxford via Willow Walk and Raleigh Park Road; to lessen the gradient, go all the way down Botley Road and up Cumnor Hill. The full route passes through the villages of Cumnor, Appleton, Fyfield (take care crossing the A420 here!), West Hanney, Denchworth, Goosey, Charney Bassett and Southmoor, and then back along the quiet road through Appleton and Cumnor, down to Botley and the city centre. (Liz M.)
A Multi-purpose “Loopy” Route (Medium)
This route was originally designed for a ride to Worton Organic Gardens, but because it is made up of three loops stuck together is actually quite a flexible. You could ride one, two or all three loops, depending what mood you are in and where you start. You can also ride the route forwards or backwards.
The original route started and finished in Radcliffe Square and the outward route went via Marston and Summertown before heading west to pick up the canal in Wolvercote. A short hop along the A44 cycle track took us to Worton via Yarnton. If you can’t visit the gardens, just keep going to Cassington and use Bell Lane to cut through to the A40 cycle track. This will bring you into Oxford at the Wolvercote Roundabout. We return to the City centre via Cutteslowe and North Oxford. The whole three loop route is 16.8 miles long and reasonably flat. (Ellen)
Not the Coombe Cream Tea Route (Long)
This is the route that we have ridden a number of times to visit Coombe (NW of Woodstock) for cream tea in the Reading Room. This usually happens every Sunday afternoon from the end of July through August. However, even if you can’t indulge in a cream tea, it’s still a nice route that starts and finishes in Summertown. The 25-mile route leaves Oxford via Cutteslowe and Kidlington. There it wiggles its way to cross the railway on a pedestrian crossing and then picks up a pleasant off road track (Begbroke Lane) to arrive at the A44 cycle track which is followed to Woodstock. Then it picks up Sustrans NCN Route 5 through wood and field to reach the road to Wootton. After a short stretch on this B-road it turns left by the Oxford Drama School and soon descends to cross, and then climb away from, the River Glyme. It then crosses A44 and goes for some way along “Stonesfield Straight.” A left turn, and it arrives at Coombe with its generous village green, ideal for a picnic. Leave Coombe by its East End and descend to cross the River Evenlode before (guess what!) climb up to Long Hanborough and then Church Hanborough. If you want a bit of a break, stop by the church. There’s a seat, or you could leave your bike and follow the nearby footpath into Pinsley Wood, an ancient wood and another good place for bluebells and other spring flowers. From here, the route picks up Lower Road which takes you to the Eynsham roundabout on the A40 and you can follow the cycle track back to Oxford.
Witney with Minimal Main Roads (Long)
This 29-mile route starts and finishes in Summertown, and visits Witney with minimal use of main roads. The route begins by picking up the Oxford Canal towpath in Wolvercote and brings riders out on the A44 cycle track which is followed as far as Yarnton. It then turns off through the village, passing Worton, before taking the straight road to the A4095. If you are confident riding on main roads then just turn left and ride up the main road for about a third of a mile before getting onto cycle track at a pedestrian crossing. If you prefer, there is a narrow and not much used footpath on the other side of the road which will turn into a cycle track in due course. Whichever your tactic, ride up through Long Hanborough and out the other side. The track continues past North Leigh Common, crossing Boddington Lane. Opposite the gates to Eynsham Hall you will turn and ride through North Leigh and descend gently through New Yatt. You should soon see the spire of Witney parish church in the distance. The route takes you into the Green in the centre of Witney on tacks and minor roads, around the back of Wood Green School and then down Church Lane to cross the River Windrush. The Green in Witney is a good place to stop for a picnic. The return route is via Cogges Farm and Tar Lane to Stanton Harcourt, Sutton and Eynsham before it meets the A40 cycle track for the last 3 miles to the Wolvercote roundabout. This route has a few gentle inclines: nothing at all intimidating!