The Kennet and Avon Canal is a brilliant place to go on a family bike ride in Berkshire. There are miles of fairly flat, car-free paths and the scenery is stunning. We spotted swans, canal boats, people paddling canoes and an artist painting a river scene.
You could pick up the tow path at any lock and cycle as far as you would like then turn back to return to the beginning. However as the railway runs alongside the canal there are also some great options to park at a train station, cycle along the tow path and then get the train back to the beginning.
We parked at Thatcham station, cycled 8 miles to Theale (stopping at Woolhampton for lunch) and then got the train back to Thatcham. This is a great family bike ride but better suited for confident cyclists as there can be some maneuvering amongst walkers next to the river, a few roads to cross and a short section at the end on road (or pushing along footpath) to get back to the station at Theale. It took us about 2 hours 15 minutes of cycling with under 8’s – plus a stop for lunch in the middle.
You can park at Thatcham rail station (£2 all day parking at weekend) and pick up the tow path just beside the station, keeping the river on your left. It’s about 2 miles to Woolhampton where we stopped for lunch at The Rowbarge pub. It’s a brilliant stop right on the river, with lots of outdoor seating and a kids menu.
We carried on through Aldermaston (about another 2 miles) where there’s also the option to stop at the Aldermaston Tea Room for an ice cream or bite to eat. From here, it’s a further 4 miles on to Theale where you can get the train back to Thatcham.